The White Mountains & The Mogollon Rim


“The Rim is an escarpment defining the southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau [and the White Mountains], and along it’s central and most spectacular portions is characterized by high limestone and sandstone cliffs. It was formed by erosion and faulting. Dramatic canyons have been cut into it, including Fossil Creek Canyon and Pine Canyon. The name Mogollon comes from Don Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollón, Spanish Governor of New Mexico from 1712-1715.”

We continually climbed in elevation to reach the tip of this Rim overlooking the Phoenix valley. Our day and night time temperatures plummeted with every foot upward. An average of 3 degrees Fahrenheit with every thousand feet gained. We longed for warmth and new terrain as we dreamed of the Giant Saguaros (səˈwɑroʊ) and palm groves.

Every thirty miles on route 60 was a warning sign for elk in the road. Upon arriving at the precipice of the Rim we scanned the vast horizon in all directions but the direction from which we came. It was only down from here.

Barreling down the highway we coasted for nearly forty miles and were duly entertained by the rapid change in temperature, scenery, and humidity. The world change before us. No longer was there snow on the ground or Pinyon Pines above us but gravely sand and chaparral scrub brush.

Further downward and further south we pushed through windless canyons and ravines. Up and down in the spring heat of the desert. Our goal for the day was Scottsdale (Phoenix), Arizona. We were amazed to to see the desert so vibrant and green. Flowering cactus and creosote bush all in extremely healthy condition. We appreciated all of the rain we had seen this winter for this one moment.

We stopped by Sycamore Wash amongst a legion of Saguaros and made camp. We had to enjoy this vista a day longer. We were off the Rim and into a regionally exclusive habitat. It was all very new to us and we loved it.

About Clint Valentine

Clint is currently enrolled in two undergraduate degrees in Biology & Environmental Science at Northeastern University. He enjoys pursuits of endurance and distance which have included summiting many peaks in New England during winter alpine ascents, sailing the Atlantic in a vintage gaff-rigged schooner, rock climbing in five states including Oregon, and cycling 5,000 miles across North America. He has goals of pushing the envelope of his limits and combining his many outdoors interests into one big trip. He has a passion for photography and hopes to one day produce a documentary for a round-the-world tour.
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