We had a perfect family day planned. Then, plans changed. That's alright; perfection is boring.
We had planned to go cut more wood (read the post about our wood cutting adventures). But, it stormed Saturday night and we knew the dirt roads to the wood would be pretty muddy. So, we planned on a drive up 260, with a letterbox hunt, and a hike at Becker Lake. Let's just say, our plans changed.
We did drive up 260, named one of the most scenic drives in Arizona and my absolute fave this time of year. We stopped at our letterbox location at Sunrise Lake, but there were too many people around, and one of the ethics is that you don't let people see you hunt. They may go over to the box after you leave and harm it, not knowing what it is. So, we planned to come back on our way back home.
Our next stop was Becker Lake and Wildlife Viewing Area. We had read brochures about Becker Lake ever since we moved to Arizona three years ago. We had been saving it for a special date. Saving it for when the boys were older to appreciate it. Let me just say, don't believe everything you read. It was pretty. But, it wasn't this huge wildlife viewing area. It was basically a footpath along a creekbank. The entire trail is only 1/2 mile. This for hikers from Yosemite, who are used to viewing bear, elk, and turkey and hiking (really hiking) a minimum of 4 miles.
So, there we were, done with our perfect plans by 10 am. Oh well. Plans change, right? Perfection is boring. We decided to get lost. We love getting lost. Before we had Jack and Josh, we used to get in the car and just drive. Our only requirement was that we had to use roads we had never taken before. You wouldn't believe some of the vistas, meadows, and wildlife we saw on the backroads.
We drove up highway 261 to Big Lake. Well, we were planning for Big Lake. We stopped at Crescent Lake. The boys had a blast on the dock. Then, we noticed that the dirt road (Hwy 273) from Sunrise Lake to Big Lake had finally been paved and reopened. We had tried to take this road when we first moved here, but it was closed for construction. So, we took the road instead of going to Big Lake. Plans change.
On our leisurely drive, we saw many trailheads. We had no intention of taking any of them today, but we wanted to see the maps of the trails and see their distances. Just in case we wanted to plan a hiking trip (but we all know what happens to plans). As we pulled in to one trailhead, Joe recognized an older gentleman getting ready to head out on the trail to Mount Baldy.
It turns out that this gentleman, Hugh, is retired from the Forest Service and now spends his days mapping trees. Pretty cool. His stories of the area lured us out of our van and on to the trail. We're so glad we did. Hugh taught us about the local trees and wildlife as we walked. Then, he took us off trail and showed us a small strand of trees recently overturned in the wind. If you look closely, you can see that they are 4 trees who overturned all at the same time.
At the end of the hike, the boys were exhausted and the clouds were moving in. We said our good-byes to Hugh and started to head home. We continued on highway 273, right past Sunrise Lake and our letterbox hunt. Oh well, I'll plan that for another day (but we all know what happens to plans).