09 August 2014

Humphrey's Peak and Flagstaff

I've always loved the Flagstaff area. The first time I saw the area it was barely daylight: I was 'trucking' through on my way to LA. My first impression was 'I want to live here'! I literally fell in love.

Mother and I explored the area in, 1998 and 1999 with good intentions of moving to the area. Except for the higher elevation (7700-7900 feet in Flagstaff proper), the entire area reminded us of Gilford, New Hampshire and the Gunstock Ski area.

The ranger (at Snow Bowl Ski area) where we have been delivering 'asphalt millings' to the parking lots, on the west side of Humphrey's Peak answered my questions when I asked. I'd always thought the mountain was three peaks, thus the name: San Francisco Peaks. Not so. The three peaks (you can see from miles away on approach to Flagstaff) form the bowl of Humphrey's Peak; a long quiet volcano (some 200,000 years quiet).

The San Francisco Peaks are a series of four stratovolcanic mountains in the Flagstaff area. Humphrey's is the highest point in Arizona, 12,633 feet above sea level. The native American population of the area consider these peaks/mountains, Humphrey's especially, sacred. I can understand why.

This mountain draws me, always has. Often I've wondered why until the last few weeks I've been working in the area. It's peaceful, calming. The piney odor of the tall Ponderosa Pines is subtle. The quiet, the whispering of the pines as a slight breeze wafts through the branches. Aspen leaves shimmer in the breezes seeming fickle. Shafts of sunlight filter through the trees into tiny meadows of grass where occasionally you will catch a glimpse of mule deer, white tail deer or a 'mama' elk with a new foal.