July 27, 2015
Our last morning we thought we’d take one more quick ride on FR24, but instead of turning north into the previously closed section, we turned south toward FR25, planning to take 25 back to pavement, and then pavement back to the lodge. As usual, having a limited amount of time has its compromises.
We packed up the truck before we left so all we’d have to do is throw the bikes on the trailer, de-gear, and get out of there. But first, we mounted up to ride, used the same unpaved “escape route” into the forest as yesterday, and were soon flying down 24. We made the sharp turn south at the intersection, and entered another part of the road that we love.
Part of FR24:
We’ve ridden it many times, but it never loses its appeal. On this day, it was overcast and cool, the forest green and full of thick vegetation, the leaves dripping with moisture from the previous day’s rain, the soil dark with dampness.
Since it was the last ride of the trip, we had a bit of a romp by opening the throttle and tearing along the road. We splashed through a few puddles and avoided a few fallen branches, all the while enjoying the beauty of the woods. Quickly, we reached the end at the intersection with FR25.
“That took about 15 minutes,” I said, flushed with excitement.
“What??” Hal asked, incredulous.
“Yes!” I said. “Remember when it used to take us about a half an hour, or more?”
“Yeah. Now we have time to ride it back. Want to?”
“Sure!” Any excuse to stay out in the woods.
So, we turned around. This time we rode more slowly, enjoying the lovely environment of the damp forest. We looked, we enjoyed. We even stopped to take a few photos.
Hal, the photographer, photographed (in IR):
I hadn’t been “in the moment” as much as I’d wanted to during this trip, and I enjoyed that feeling now. I looked at the beautiful creek, and the forest surrounding me.
Creek, almost hidden in the vegetation (photographed in IR):
Greenery throughout evidence of the burn:
Too soon, we were back at the lodge, right on time, and loading up.
Bye bye lodge, and all your pretty wildflowers:
We settled in for the trip home, watched for deer and elk on the way out, and then sighed with depression as we dropped into the lower elevation near Escudilla Mountain, which usually signals that the most beautiful part of the trip is over. The sky was clear as well, and I was not glad to see the mean-spirited sun. I had hoped for rain on the way home, but we didn’t get any.
After a stop in Payson for fuel, and coffee for us, we dropped down to the valley of heat. We resolved to return to the White Mountains in three weeks, something to look forward to as I return to … work.