March 18 – 20, 2017
On the eastern side of Arizona are the White Mountains and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Much of this land is owned by the Apache Indian Reservation, which makes much of this land inaccessible to someone like myself. However, there are roads that pass through these mountains and one of them is Hwy 191, also known as the Coronado Trail. The distance between Clifton and Springerville is 120 miles, and much of the drive is on a very curvaceous road with speed limits of 10 – 25 mph for much of the southern half of it.
My regular readers know that I’m not a person who rushes a drive if I have the option to take it slow. I usually start looking for a place for the night around 4:00 PM. This gives me time to find a place, get level, explore the area a bit and learn about it, prepare supper and clean up the dishes, relax a bit, and get prepared for a sunrise beer, glass of wine, or cup of herbal tea before it goes dark. I can then read, watch a movie, or write during the evening hours.
As far as I’m concerned there is no such thing as too many spring-times. As I travel north, spring keeps on repeating itself with each elevation gain. This is one of the best things about being a Nomad, and I’ll still be experiencing new flowers in June and July in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains.
I spent a night in the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area just east of Safford. The thought of camping by a river appealed to me, however, I couldn’t actually see the river from my camping area. I even decided to stay in a campground (my first this winter?), but it was a lovely campground with huge spots and was worth the $5.00.
The next day I continued on Hwy 191, to the town of Clifton, and the mining area of Morenci.
I was a little bit taken aback by the sheer enormity of this mine. As with the copper mines, I witnessed earlier on this trip, seeing this mine in person caused me to think deeply about the raping of the earth by humans. This particular mine had eaten away at whole mountains, I mean they were just gone, and I have to wonder how much of that rock was actually used for things we need, as opposed to things we just want as humans. I cannot help thinking that if we had more respect for the land, we could mange with a lot less. I understand we need rock, but do we really need as much as we devour in our greed for growth.
The enormous earth-moving machines in this mine, look like little beetles, destroying everything in their wake. Look at the size of those machines and think about how much it takes to remove a mountain with them or several mountains. I find it to be astounding.
Below is an areal view of the mine, this really put things into perspective for me.
Once I left the mine behind, things started to get much prettier, and as the road gained in elevation the temperatures got colder, and the views more encompassing. When I found a camp spot that night, I was close to 9,000 feet in elevation, and there were still patches of snow around. I had to be careful where I drove because of mud from snow melt.
The next day I drove the last section of road to Springerville. It went a little faster because the speed limit varied between 35 and 55 mph. I didn’t hang around up in those mountains for long, it was still a little wintry up there and I wasn’t too eager to meet winter, I was trying to avoid it.
I hope you have enjoyed this installment of my travels during the winter of 2016/2017, and hope you’ll continue the journey with me. Please visit the HOME page to find more articles, and feel free to share, sign up and leave a comment. Also please visit my YouTube Channel. Until next time…remember to step outside of your comfort zone as often as possible and watch it grow.
Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature
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