Mogollon Rim Trail day 24: alpine wonderland


Mileage: 20

322.4 miles hiked

It’s cold in the large meadow in which Los Burros campground sits. We hike out in the morning in all our layers, even our gloves. There are groves of aspens, now, in the ponderosas, white and ghostly, not even the hints of new leaves yet. Everything has a damp, mashed down feeling, as though the snow just melted ten minutes ago. The ghosts of snow.

We’re climbing up to 9500 feet today, and the air has that thin, clean feeling, and even though I’m more out of breath on the climbs it’s worth it. I love it up here. We check the seasonal water sources as we pass them.

They’re all full to bursting. Seasonal springs overflowing, flooding the road. “Unreliable, muddy, often dry” ponds are clear, large, snow fed lakes. The birds are singing. Dandelions dot the grassy meadows. It’s a bright springtime world up here.

The day is singletrack, dirt roads, and some cross country through lumpy open meadow on top of the world that reminds me of the CDT. This section is one of my favorites of the MRT, I think. I love the high ponderosa forest!



There’s a grove of aspens next to a spring that has created a small, clear pond in the grass- a perfect campsite! We’re exploring this spot when we find an old camper, tucked away in the woods. Its siding is yellow with age and it’s closed up against the elements, a tarp bungeed down over the roof, covering the top of the door. There are no vehicles in sight, no signs of life. Last fall’s aspen leaves blanket the ground, undisturbed. Was the camper left here over the winter? The snow only just melted. Maybe the occupants haven’t been back yet for the season?

I try the door. It’s unlocked. Muffy stands outside, nervous. She hates breaking rules. But I love snooping. And it’s harmless, right? Like a cabin in the woods. Unlocked, unoccupied, parked on public land.

“If there was a storm we could sleep in here,” I say to Muffy. The inside is warm, cozy, clean despite the trailer being almost 40 years old. The bed is tidily made with worn blankets and mismatched throw pillows, the fridge propped open to keep it from mildewing. Muffy climbs inside reluctantly.

“It’s so much warmer in here!” She exclaims. “And there’s a bed! I hate breaking rules,” she repeats, as though to herself.

We go back and forth on whether or not we should sleep in the trailer. Yes? No? Maybe? At last we decide not to, because we might be too nervous to sleep well, and we pitch our shelter nearby in the aspen grove, and gather water from the spring for our dinners.

I yank off my shoes while I’m waiting for my water to boil. The earth is soft under my bare feet. We add a lot of salt and olive oil to our food. The cold creeps in- it’s definitely going to freeze tonight.

I’m using these blog posts to help raise money for Francis, an El Salvadoran refugee who is raising funds for an asylum appeal. You can view his fundraiser here.

Francis’ fundraiser is currently at $3,500- day 25 from the MRT will go up on this blog when his fundraiser reaches $3,600 Let’s help Francis get the support he needs! Click here to check it out. And thank you! 😀