NOTE: Open post and then Single Click On first Post Photo to view an album in a more detailed, larger format...

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Woods Lake to Navajo Lake

Stretching both my legs and the limits of a senescent memory on a lonely Woods Lake trail, I recalled how, even as a child, it never took long to outgrow my front yard and neighborhood. I must have been four or five when we moved to an almost new tract-home on La Mirada street in south Phoenix. Only a few blocks distant, South Mountain filled the frame of our living room's "picture window," as did the flash-boom summer monsoon lightning storms that discharged on its rocky ridge-lines.

Excepting the hottest days of summer, we'd grown used to the heat enough to picnic up on South Mountain, usually after church on Sundays. Mom would pack up leftover cold fried chicken, some slaw or potato salad, and a gallon of the sweetest sun-brewed tea you could imagine and off we'd go, winding up some dusty dirt road in our 4WD International Travel-all. 

My sister, Sally Jo, had a job prepping and grooming horses at a riding stable near the foot of South Mountain. She loved horses more than anything else in life, it seemed. It was an idyllic "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyle that was short-lived. 

Why Dad and Mom sold that wonderful house after only a couple years...to move our family of five into an old 8 X 40 two bedroom trailer in some trailer park is a question still pondered to this day whenever my brother, Dan, and I get together. When your a kid, your "life" is your life. You don't question the "whys."  By the time we thought to finally question "why," it was too late. They were gone...    

Bobbie and I decided to refresh some olden "dots" by revisiting Navajo Lake...at least give it a go, anyway, as it would entail a 9 mile roundtrip hike with a couple thousand feet of elevation gain and a sketchy forecast. 

We hiked along Woods Lake, where lovely groves of aspen relieved an otherwise monotonous spruce/fir forest. It would be even lovelier come fall, so we made a promise to return in a few weeks. 

As I feared, our trail forsook aspen groves in favor of a dark, dense, view-blocking forest of spruce and fir. Oh well, timberline would soon render us from shade and darkness to far views and sunlight, which, given the chill and wind, would be most welcomed. 

I frittered away my forest-hike sentence reflecting on how a few mountain seeds sown during childhood, you know, predispositions and preferences, can resurface as full blown addictions come adulthood and, if you pay close attention, land you right where you belong. 

To great extent, perhaps entirely, I owe my "now" to fearless vagabond parents who gambled everything they had built in their Ohio life...the nice house in the country, a thriving business, friends, family...you name it...on the possibility of quite an opposite life way out west.  Thank you for that gift of freedom, Everett and Hilda Johnson. 

Navajo Lake lies on the other side of that mountain. Hmmm, wonder if the trail goes over or around???
In due time (as my patience wore thin), we broke from dark forest into full sun. Ah....I must be solar powered. But without a protective forest, the brisk wind quickly chilled our perspiration soaked shirts into hypothermic iceboxes. We huddled down, pulled on poly pro layers, Gore-tex, hats/hoods/gloves, and proceeded on Trial # 406. 

It appeared the trail would go around, not over the mountain.

We skirted the nameless mountain, finally achieving its grassy, tundran ridge-line, and viewed a familiar basin, one that cradled Navajo lake in its rocky palm. Unfortunately, the lake was barely visible, blocked by a forest of spruce and fir.

The trail continued and so did we...slipping down, losing precious elevation that would have to be regained on the return trip.

The skirted nameless mountain and its ridge

Clouds built overhead, casting El Diente, Wilson and Gladstone peaks in come and go shadows.

El Diente, the near peak

El Diente (the tooth) thumbed its crown in our faces, prompting us to recall the day we dared climb its free-falling screes of boulders and rotten rock in order gain the summit. 

Bobbie breaks the silence—reverence—asking, How in the hell did we ever get up there? 

A story I will share with you in the next post...
Peace out, 
Now go take a hike.
mark and bobbie


  1. Ok, we both concurred that the picture I sent you was El Diente looking from the south off of Co Rd 38. Al even claims there was a small sign with the mt name on it. However you would never know the picture in the above post is the same mountain.......very interesting. That was in the 20th Century and things sure looked & were a lot different than they are today. Of course everything was real back then where it's all FAKE today. :)
    Nice little hike, seem to have a very different feel than many of your other hikes. Those Monsoon showers have sure left you alone this summer. Unfortunately. Guess we won't be skinny dipping in the Rway Res this year:)

  2. Indeed: mountains can look so different from different angles...sometimes unidentifiable. El Diente is the reddest of the 14ers in that area, so I think you are correct that the pic you sent was El Diente, only taken from the south looking north. Thanks guys!!!

  3. I looked closely at the aspens in your top photo and didn’t see any yellow, so it must still be summer. You guys have been doing a lot of “dot connecting” lately and I can see why, it’s so beautiful up there. If you could look from above at all those dots you’ve connected over the years in those mountains it would be quite a pattern!

  4. Awww, its nice to see Bobbie bundled up as we are still sweating and can't feel our breath here in this Arkansas humidity. Your beautiful pic's show me the mountains are calling!! Thanks taking us along.


If you like reading blog posts...from any blogger...consider leaving a "tip" in the form of a "comment" to the author, lest the blog might disappear from perceived lack of interest.