Fran suggested we go hiking on Labor Day ... I said "great" ... where do you want to go? She found an article in the Arizona Republic that suggested a five mile hike around a beautiful lake on the Mogollon Rim Recreation Area. After 10 years living in Arizona I am still not sure how to pronounce Mogollon but I think it sounds like "Mugyon" ... The lake we went to is part of the Apache and Sitgreaves National Foreast in east central Arizona ... spanning about 2,000,000 acres. The Mogollon Rim is part of the defining features in Arizona demarcating the lower part of the state from the high desert and mountainous regions.
It was a great drive up taking under two hours as we were able to maintain a good pace up Route 87 to Payson and then east of Payson on Route 260. about 35 miles east of Payson we turned on Forest Road 300 and then followed the paved road to Woods Canyon Lake. There we paid our $5 entry fee and followed the perimeter of the lake for about two hours. It is so pretty up there and the air was so cool and full of pine fragrance ... sure made me wish I was camping there for the week ... in an RV :-) After a nice walk ... we both wanted to walk further but hunger was taking over so we had a nice lunch of Elk burger at a Rt 260 roadside restaurant called "Bugles" recommended by the park attendant.
Something buried in the deepest recesses of my memory was trying to warn me not to go traveling on a holiday ... but I could not quite hear the warnings. 24 years ago we spent four days on Cape Cod for 4th of July weekend ... and I swore I would never ever deal with that kind of traffic again ... but I forgot. Coming from the lake on Route 260 into Payson was a very painful two hour drive ... made more painful by the behavior of some of the drivers ... most people were nice but I remembered a few and especially the tic who went out of his way to block me from merging in bumper to bumper traffic 12 miles out from Payson ... him driving a yellow Hummer did not help.
Anyway, awesome trip, except for the return part ... next time we pick our travel days better.
More on Mogollon Rim: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogollon_Rim
The Apache and Sitgreaves National Forest Web Site: www.fs.fed.us/t3/asnf