Aspens in the Mountain
Hello again, dear readers! I’ve gone and given you two posts last week and only one this week, but please contain your addicted fury as today’s post is, I hope you’ll agree, quite nice. Yesterday I made my second trip to the Inner Basin, the extended remnants of the San Francisco Peaks’ violent past as a volcano. You may recall it from last October, when the aspen forest was ablaze with autumn color. That post still remains my most popular on the site, but maybe I can challenge that reputation today.
The trail starts at Lockett Meadow, a spacious expanse at the very bottom of the interior valley. Hiking up takes you through a beautiful stand of aspens then shifts to more spruce/fir woodland, ending in the meadow which marks the Inner Basin itself. The hike up is intense, climbing about 1,000 feet in under three miles, starting and ending in the thin air above 8,500 feet. As a result I have few pictures from the hike up, but several from the more leisurely walk down. Above you can see Agassiz Peak, the second highest in Arizona, still with patches of snow despite the 90 degree weather Flagstaff has been burdened with recently.
Starting down, the aspen forest climbing the valley takes on a new light as you look downhill through countless white trunks. The ground, as before, is covered in thick green grass, and the waving canopy is far above. The forest has a special open atmosphere to it, enhanced by the cool breeze and scent of growing things, and by the absence of any artificial noise. If you hike this trail you will no doubt notice that, perhaps unlike any other place in the state, it is completely isolated from civilization. No airplanes fly overhead, no motorized vehicles are allowed on the trail, and the nearest road is a very long way away. With this silence surrounded by huge mountains, a definite feeling of peace prevails.
As the trail descends there are some places which give the feeling that you can see through the forest forever, infinite white aspen trunks filling in all the gaps and blocking out any sight of the outside world. I tried to capture this in the image at the top of the post, but it is also clearly visible in most of these other shots. The grassy hills just beg for a day like yesterday, with the bright sun shining through the leaves and warming the soil. For much of the trail there is nothing but trees and grass, but occasionally a boulder breaks the pattern and makes for a good resting point. Here and there, too, are spruce and fir trees growing up beneath the aspens, waiting until the grove opens and sunlight pours through to reach their full height.
Despite the steepness and length of the ascent and the quick pace of the descent, the forest seems to welcome those who wish to linger with its vibrance and light, beckoning across the grassy slopes with dappled shade and glimpses of blue sky above. I am glad to have seen the valley in its usual colors, which proved no less magical than those in the fall. If you can make the hike I strongly recommend it, it’s free and incomparable within Arizona, just make sure you’re prepared for a wicked drive up to Lockett Meadow.
All these images have been linked to the new gallery, so please give that a look and let me know what you think. I’ve also updated the D’ni Proverb of the Week, which though scheduled is oddly coincidental to current times. I would also like to announce the addition of DeviantArt to my list of accessory sites. I will only be posting my very best on that account as time progresses, so give it a look if you’re part of that community.
Thank you, as always, for reading, liking, and commenting!