Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mount Baldy - Arizona

West Baldy Trail #94
Mount Baldy Wilderness
Apache-Sitgreaves NF
Springerville, Arizona
Mileage - 16.1
AEG - 2864ft
Time - 5:34

The first hike in a weekend of 3 high altitude ascents began in the White Mountains of Northern Arizona.  After driving up to the Winn Campground late Friday night; Matt, Ben and I woke to a very chilly 38-degree morning, a near 50 degree swing from Phoenix temperatures.  We broke camp early and hit the trail by 7:00am to climb the state's 6th most prominent peak at 11,421 feet above sea level.  The cold morning made our 8 mile climb through the pristine Baldy Wilderness really quite nice.  The first few miles were rather easy going and followed a crystal clear mountain stream, which I later learned is the headwaters of the Little Colorado River.  Pretty cool!  The three of us steadily climbed through meadows, pine and aspens forests, and along the nicest, softest, smoothest trails outside of Flagstaff.   Intermittent clouds and tree cover kept us cool all day long, before we knew it, we were back down and the trailhead was in sight. What a great start to a great weekend!

Mount Baldy certainly deserves the highest level of federal protection (wilderness area) as this type of forest is unique to the state of Arizona and provides a habitat for numerous species of plants, birds and big game animals. 

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