On Aker Lake Rd:
The White Mountains, near Alpine, Arizona
On Sunday morning, I woke up to the sound of birds singing in the pre-dawn light, and later, motorcycles leaving Hannagan Meadow Lodge. At least everyone wasn’t gone already because at breakfast we had a good group, and it was so pleasant to spend time talking, eating, and relaxing. Yes, I ate too much bacon, but it was worth it. 😉
After breakfast, most people took their time gearing up. Hal and I packed the Xterra, but before we left, we geared up for one last quick ride in our beloved White Mountains.
We started out on the same forest road as the day before, FS576 right next to the lodge. This time when we got to FS24, we turned left instead of right. We would be riding the road so familiar to us, the one we took our fellow dirt riders on last year at the rally. It was, as usual, stunningly beautiful. One thing we have noticed this year is how much more noticeable the deterioration of the forest is. Many of the trees have fallen now, and the ones that are already on the ground are breaking down quickly. It’s a fascinating study in forest regeneration.
At the south end of FS24, where it ends at FS25, the dirt superhighway of the White Mountains, we looked for our usual herd of deer and elk. They were nowhere to be found this time. However, wildlife would be abundant soon!
Our plan was to take 25 to the pavement of 191, then ride the short distance to the road to Aker Lake. Hal turned right off of 25 by mistake, but it turned out to be a great thing because off to the side of the road, almost camouflaged by fallen trees, we saw a herd of about 15 deer! They were grazing, and of course, leaped across the road in front of us, one by one. The video camera wasn’t with us, which was unfortunate, because later in the ride we saw an elk cow, and a wild turkey!
Aker Lake Rd.:
We turned around and went back to the Aker Lake road. The entrance to Aker Lake road was strewn with logging debris and gouged with tracks made by logging vehicles. But that was only for the first mile or so, and we started to wind down the long descent to the lake.
This is a short road, but very scenic. We enjoyed every moment, knowing that we soon would have to go back to Phoenix. Ugh.
Hal and I stopped at the lake for a few minutes to take photos. Not that we haven’t done this many times before, but it was an excuse to prolong the ride. We sat down there at the lake for a while, drinking in the beauty and solitude because we had the place to ourselves.
The lake, much smaller than we’ve seen it before:
New growth, dead trees:
Odd, tortured shapes of burned treetops:
Hal enjoying the surroundings:
Too soon, it was time to make ourselves get back on the bikes and get back to the lodge. We loaded up, then did a short photo tour so I could shoot some IR images of the trees and rock formations near the “arrow tree” near Blue Pt. Vista.
Some “wildlife.” We noticed that there were a lot of hand-lettered signs along the road saying, “Watch out for the cattle!”:
Later, on the way out of Alpine, we saw a small group of deer grazing near Tal Wi Wi lodge. This time I was able to get a few photos (most of them of deer running away).
First we see the herd – “Huh?”:
The inevitable outcome of our proximity:
We stopped in Springerville at Western Drug, which was, uncharacteristically, a disappointment this time. They didn’t have what I wanted, so I settled for a bag of Skittles, which I pigged out on during the drive home. After Western Drug, we stopped at the riparian area at the edge of town at the Little Colorado River. I got a few photos there, but it was less exciting than I thought it would be. Finally, we got back in the truck and settled in for the long drive home.
At the riparian area:
Funny, though, how the drive home seems to go too fast since I don’t like having to return to the heat. Hal and I talked about what a great weekend it was, but too short. That’s okay, it made every moment of fun during our time in the White Mountains seem all the better.