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Lynx Lake Campout
Prescott National Forest
June 11-13, 1999
by Jeannie Van Lew
Front Row: Elaine (with Sandy), Tom, and Ingrid.
Middle Row: Christina, Peggy, Angie, Ben, and Chuck P.
Back Row: Jeannie and Chuck G.

Tom and I left Phoenix early Friday morning June 11, 1999, and headed to Prescott with our dog, Sandy. We had our campsites selected and camp set up by 10:30 AM. We posted signs on the message boards of both campgrounds at Lynx Lake, directing those that followed us to the Hilltop Campground, Loop C. As we were deciding what to do next, Chuck Parsons drove up.

Mama Osprey.
    Following lunch and a last minute trip to the store, we took a walk around the lake. We stopped at the Lynx Lake store and visited the newly opened cafe. We spotted an information board and read about an Osprey platform that had been built directly across the lake. We continued on around the lake, spotting a water snake and talking with fishermen. As Chuck filled us in on the Osprey habits, a large shadow swept over us and we had our first glimpse of the “momma” Osprey and her catch that she held in her talons, returning to her nest. We stopped to watch a while, wishing we had brought our telephoto lenses!

After seeing little activity in or around the nest, we continued around the lake, until that familiar shadow swept over us again we maneuvered for a better view. From this new vantage point we could see the male perched on another nearby tree like a sentinel protecting his young family. Again we waited for the mother Osprey’s return, awed by the expanse of her wing span as she flew overhead on her return flight to the nest. By now it was getting late and we returned to camp to prepare dinner.

Later, as we sat around the campfire, I read from Chuck’s book “In Old Arizona: True Tales of the Wild Frontier “ by Marshall Trimble. Our story was interrupted by the arrival of Chuck and Peggy Giovaniello. The were glad to finally be there after a 1½ hour delay drive due to an accident up the road from the campground. We all helped them set up and soon we were enjoying the campfire – until nodding heads and long yawns prompted us to “hit the hay”.

We were awakened early with the sounds of a pack of coyotes calling out in the distance and the response from another pack much closer. Shortly after breakfast Angelia Lien and her friend Christina arrived. At 9 AM we loaded our hiking packs into our truck and headed to the #62 Trailhead. On the way out of camp we met up with Ben Velasquez, Elaine Cobos and Ingrid Nelson. After the requisite photo, we started on the trail about which began as and old jeep trail. The altitude increased steadily and then dropped into a wash. Soon we found ourselves making our way through the under brush in the dry wash. Deciding we had missed a turn somewhere we backtracked and indeed found the trail we had missed.

The angle steepened on to another ridgeline where vistas of the San Francisco Peaks, Kendrick Peak, Granite Mountain, Prescott Valley, Granite Dells, Thumb Butte and Mingus Mountain open up. A pleasant level ridgeline trail will carried us through juniper, scrub oak, manzanita, lemonade berry, mountain mahogany, ponderosa pine, pinyon and a few yucca plants. The higher we went, the hotter it got. By 11:00, the 90° sun began to take its toll on us. The hike closed in on neighboring homes, not the best of what nature could offer, so we decided to call it quits and turn around. We were all glad to wait until we were under the shade of the tall Ponderosa pine trees at our campsite before having lunch.

Tom spoke to Dennis Robertson later, and found that he and his wife had indeed arrived to do the day hike with us. Unfortunately, they were not able to find us at our campsite. It seems they, along with everyone else in our group, missed two little words on the note we left giving our whereabouts – “Hilltop Campground”.

Sandy keeps watch over hikers along
the Lynx Lake Circumference Trail.
What a perfect day for Lynx Lake
in the Prescott National Forest!

We rested for a bit and then we again donned our hiking boots and hiked the Lynx Creek Ruin Trail. The trail is part of an interpretive site administered by the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office. Signs describing the early Native American civilization were posted along the route. The path winds through ponderosa pine, scrub oak, juniper, manzanita, lemonade berry, yucca and local grasses. The ruins are believed to have been inhabited by 25-30 people about 700 years ago. We were somewhat disappointed in the ruins themselves, as the structures have deteriorated down to ground level. However, from the platform built to view the “ruins” we had views of Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte, the San Francisco Peaks and the Bradshaw Mountains. Returning to camp some of us decided to take advantage of the late afternoon lighting and walked around the lake to photograph the fishermen, the Osprey (this time with telephoto lenses in hand) and the lake itself.

We had a food feast for dinner, with everyone BBQ-ing his or her meal of choice. We shared beans, rice, salad, cheesecake, banana boats and ‘smores. We were a little heavy laden with desserts. After dinner we again sat around the fire, entertained with Ingrid and Ben’s reading of Arizona Tall Tales written by Marshall Trimble. Sleep came easy and all too soon the sun was back up and beckoning a new day.

Following a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and headed to Prescott to see what was happening during the Territorial Days. After visiting the craft, food and artisan booths and displays in the courtyard lawn, we met for lunch at the Prescott Brewing Company. In too short a time, we returned to the 106° temperatures Phoenix had waiting us on our return.

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updated December 6, 2012