White Mountains, June 2013

Mary Ann and I took a trip to the White Mountains to celebrate our wedding anniversary. This post has a description and some pictures.

We usually try to go someplace for our anniversary. This year we decided to go to the White Mountains Pinetop-Lakeside area in Arizona. We had read about some hikes there and decided to try them out. Here’s a link to a description of the hikes: http://www.azcentral.com/travel/articles/20130510hiking-miles-trails-pinetop.html.

Our trip started out with some excitement. We left on Wednesday after work on the 3 hour drive to Pinetop-Lakeside. About 5 miles before Showlow we hit an elk! It was dark and two elk appeared suddenly in our headlights in the middle of the road; a large male with huge antlers, and a female. I slowed down and tried to avoid them, but the big male moved into the car. He hit the driver’s side fender, rolled onto the hood, and smashed out our windshield. His antlers dented the roof. He rolled back off the hood into a standing position on the road. We stopped to assess the damage. The two elk were gone, and the car was drivable, except for poor visibility due to the broken windshield. We were able to make the remaining 20 miles to our hotel. We were fortunate we weren’t injured, and that the damage wasn’t worse. I included a photograph of the damage to the car.

The next morning we contacted our insurance company and got the windshield fixed. It didn’t get done until about 3 in the afternoon, so it interrupted our hiking plans. It turns out there was a nice lake and park near the hotel called Woodland Lake Park. We went there while waiting for the windshield to be fixed. It had paved hiking trails and quite a few birds.

After the car was fixed we did the Springs Trail hike. It was a nice easy 4 mile hike. We went clockwise around the loop, but should have gone counter-clockwise, because we would have gotten to the creek sooner, rather than getting there at dusk.

We splurged for our anniversary and had dinner at Charlie Clark’s steakhouse. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t say great.

The next morning we drove to the Ice Cave trail. We had a little trouble finding the trail head – the description in the paper wasn’t great. However, we made a worse wrong turn on the hike, and wound up turning the 4 mile hike into a seven mile hike. We got to the sign indicating the connection to Osprey trail. We went that way. We should have continued straight, even though there were no blue diamond markers along it. When we got to the Wickiup marker we went right instead of left, and had to retrace our steps. Eventually we made it to the cave. It’s a cave formed by a lava flow. There is a constant stream of 52 degree F air coming from the cave. It’s a natural air conditioner!

We had planned to go to the Big Lake Outlook, but the Ice Trail hike took a lot longer than we planned due to the wrong turns, so we didn’t make it.

I didn’t get any great bird pictures. I liked seeing the Lewis’s woodpecker. I followed the Hairy Woodpecker around for a while. It started working on a stump and let me approach pretty close. Eventually I found out what he was working so intently on when he pulled out a large grub. The Northern Flicker also let us approach very close as it was eating ants in a stump. I didn’t post that picture, but the Flicker was also close for the picture I took of it in the tree. It was interesting to see the Red Crossbill. When I took the shot I didn’t know what it was, and I knew it wouldn’t turn out. I was surprised when I got home to see it was a Red Crossbill. The Ash-throated Flycatcher was also fun to see.

We left for home on Friday afternoon. It was another fun anniversary trip – we’ll always remember our encounter with the elk!

Here are the pictures:

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One Comment

  1. Jill
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Crazy elk story. Unbelievable bird photos. I love them all.

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