I finally committed to finding and hiking the Thompson trail #629 in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona. Being a four hours plus drive away from Phoenix means that I needed a long weekend to truly enjoy my time, so Memorial Day weekend this year worked out perfectly for me.

Sunday morning I leave my cabin early to try and find the trail. Most everything up here takes a little extra work, as signage is limited. Perhaps this has to do with the remoteness, or that Native lands make up much of the area.

Eventually I find the right dirt road to head down to the trailhead, and when I arrive I see open meadows that are just starting to turn green after our long and brutal winter in the high country. Wary that I’m in bear country, I strap my bear spray to my hip, check my water levels, and get started. I hope to do about six miles along the trail today.

The West Fork of the Black river follows the trail, which to have water running while hiking in Arizona is a rare treat. It’s a dream for those that love to fly fish, myself included, but that isn’t on the agenda today. I stay hyper focused for signs of wildlife as I go deep into the backcountry, nary another soul around this morning.

Lush open meadows take my breath away. Along the ridgeline you can still see the destruction from a wildfire that scorched this area a few years ago, but also the amazing regeneration of life that always follows.

I hike until I finally come to a river crossing that is too deep for me to cross. I decide to turn around and head back, but the Thompson trail is probably one of my favorite Arizona hikes so far. I think that next time I’ll come a little later in the summer to truly appreciate the wildflowers that I imagine would fill these meadows.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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