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Trippinant - The Western Circle Journal - 2011

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Anthony "Trippin Ant" Culpepper
City: Prescott
State: AZ
Country: US
Begins: Mar 5, 2011
Direction: Southbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sun, Mar 13th, 2011
Start: Marshall Lake
End: Casner Park
Daily Distance: 28.4
Trip Distance: 182.7
Hours Hiked: 5
Min Elevation: 7190
Max Elevation: 6620
Min Temp: -3
Max Temp: 12
Breaks: 2
People Met: 0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,748
Journal Visits: 3,939
Guestbook Views: 258
Guestbook Entrys: 2

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Day 09 13 Mar 2011

Day 09
Marshall Tank to Casner Park
13 Mar 2011
34,9199 -111,5672 6970'
Distance Day/Total - 28,4/182,7
Route - AZT, FR240
High Point - Saddle on FR240 South of Mormon Mt 7580,
Low Point - Walnut Creek 6870'
Weather - Beautiful sunny day, cool and breezy, low of -4 and a high of 11 some high clouds mid day.
Fence XC - 9/14

Another night of frozen water bladders, sleeping with batteries, and another day of tracking through mud: seems like we might have a pattern. I am in for my last cold night though. The terrain today was pretty much homogeneous, Pondo forest, pretty open on Anderson Mesa, intermixed with PJ. My guess is the PJ is a factor of a more drained subsurface. The mesa hike had a few treats in the form of vernal lakes for lack of a better descriptor. These lakes are low pockets in the basalt mesa that have filled with clay, clay I might add that i got to know very well today. These collect melt and rain water forming some of the only natural lakes in AZ, Mormon Lake passed later in the day being the largest.

The FS has done a good job building exclosures around these lakes to keep out cattle and their trampling hooves. While the lakes have been fences off i did notice the use of "good" fencing, i.e. no barbs on the top and bottom strands and PVC shielded jump crossings. So, nice for the water seeking hiker as well. There is always that uneasiness in the crotch area when crossing barbed wire. More PVC crossings please!

Last night’s camp was near one of the larger lakes, Marshall, and I had another goose wake-up call. In calm of dawn i could also hear the interstate and rail line to the north. It is amazing how intrusive transit can be. Soon I could hear the Sunday motor bike traffic on the highway that parallels the mesa of this morning’s muddy venture.

The naturalist in me is seriously regretting not carrying my binoculars as the lakes were filled with migratory water fowl. I am not a big bird person but i do like watching the comings and going around water in the spring. I did have a nice break at Horse Lake for an early lunch and bird watching; the last time I passed here it was a small puddle. Then back to the mud. I was anticipating this section to be muddy in the planning stages so i was not as frustrated with slower progress than up north. What I was not expecting was the amount of snow still hiding in the shady forest at came closer to the prominence of the area, Mormon mountain.

After leaving the mesa, the AZT follows the route of an old logging rail grade formerly connecting Mormon Lake to the mills in Flag. Big patches of snow along this otherwise easy section, still very muddy. The AZT left the grade to round the east side of Mormon Mt. Since it proceeds in and out of NE facing slopes and the presence of snow in the flats, i decided to drop down to the paved road that parallels the route. Nice to have an hour of easy walking and great view of a very full Mormon Lake.

I tracked up from the vicinity of Double Springs CG to rejoin the AZT. My original intent was to remain on the AZT for 3-4 more miles and then bee-line to I-17 via secondary forest roads. I decided to revise this plan due to snow and the closure of the main forest road 240 that connects Mormon Lake to Munds Park on the interstate. West now on my own route climbing through the pines on a very snow covered road. Dusk was near and the snow was beginning to harden but there was a while there that i was regretting mailing off my snowshoes in Flag. I made it as far as the broad open flats of Casner Park.

Like last night I wanted to continue a bit further into the night but needed to stop. Not for mud this time but for snow and route finding. I was looking for a road on a map that no longer exists on the ground. Something better left for daylight. Well this will be the last cold night for a week as tomorrow I plunge off the Mogollon Rim, dropping a couple thousand feet into the Red Rocks of Sedona and the Verde Valley, which also means this will be my last night on the Colorado Plateau until New Mexico.

The moon filters through the grove of pines and the owl calls me to sleep.

Entry 10 of 10
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The Western Circle

The Western Circle is a roughly 6000 mile route that connects the broad range of landscape and biodiversity in the Western United States. Beginning at the Grand Canyon, the TWC travels in a counter clockwise loop south through Arizona, west and north through New Mexico, through Colorado and Wyoming along the Continental Divide Trail, around the Greater Yellowstone region, back south through the Tetons and Wyoming Range, down the Wasatch, out onto the Colorado Plateau in Utah, and across the Arizona Strip back to the Grand Canyon.


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