Jaeger's Blog

To look at things is very different from seeing it – Oscar Wilde

Fall has arrived in Arizona

SONY ILCE-7RM4, f/7.1, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800

It is already late in the year, but because it has been such a warm summer and fall, we can expect to still see some fall colors up in the mountains. Since we have hardly any aspens or oak trees here in the valley we have to drive up to higher elevations to find them. 

This is actually not the first thing Marco has in mind when he and some friends decide to head up to Aztec Peak. On the way up there we are hoping to see bighorn sheep and we also heard from different sources that black bears had been spotted recently.

To avoid busy roads and crowds we go during the week and leave early morning – we meet Shirley and Charlie at the old bridge that leads over the Upper Salt River at 7:00am. We take a few side roads out to some plateaus looking out for bighorn sheep. Unfortunately the bighorn sheep and bears seem to be hiding today. 

Nevertheless it is a beautiful drive up the mountain on the narrow and steep gravel road all the way up to the top of Aztec Peak which is at 7,700 ft (2,350m) above sea level. The 360 degree view on the summit is quite dramatic, with a panoramic view that stretches more than 100 miles in every direction. As we have experienced on our recent trip to Page already, the long distance view is rather hazy due to numerous wildfires in California and Arizona . 

The trail should not be attempted without a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. Once passed the waterfall, Forest Service Road 487 is steep, narrow and scary for those afraid of heights.

Since we all got up early we are hungry and decide to have our picnic before slowly heading down again. We stop several times and stroll into the colorful forrest – it is gorgeous and the fall colors are just spectacular. 

On the way home we are driving thru the area that was heavily impacted by the wildfire earlier this year. For miles and miles we are seeing burned shrubs and cacti along Hwy 87. It will most likely take years for the vegetation to grow back.  

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