I recently returned from my adventure into the Blue Range Primitive. The Blue Range did not disappoint me.It was rugged and remote.I saw no one out there, and I did allot of bushwhacking in this beautiful Alpine wilderness located in the eastern part of Arizona bordering New Mexico.The area was very scenic, and I am working on doing a separate article documenting my entire adventure.This article is about a specific encounter I had in this wilderness area with a Mexican Gray Wolf. My contact with this wolf happened at my basecamp on the second night of my adventure.
I had been following Grant’s Creek navigating east toward Moonshine Park.As I was navigating, I found an area off the creek to set up my basecamp.Not long after getting my basecamp set up I started a fire to warm myself for the cold evening that was slowly rolling in.I had a nice fire going and I ate my meal while I reflected on my day’s activity.I started scanning the perimeter of my basecamp with my headlamp when I hit on two eyes across the creek.The colors of the eyes were orange and green and they changed intermittently as I moved my headlamp.
I found this unusual and I increased the intensity of my light. As I did this, the object moved and I saw that is was a Mexican Gray Wolf on a game trail watching me.It stopped as I moved my light, and It stayed in place curiously focused on me.The area around me had many bones from elk that were probably taken down by these Mexican Gray Wolves. My research told me that elk in the Blue Range are a food source for these wolves.I was definitely in their hunting area.
Bones I found Throughout my Adventure
As I watched the wolf, I wondered if there were other wolves nearby.This wolf was out looking for food and they usually hunt in packs.Hunting in packs allow them to take down the large elk in this area. I began looking around the perimeter of my basecamp looking for others wolves that may have infiltrated or surrounded my camp.I knew through my research of these wolves that they are a curious breed that could be scared off by humans if threatened.My fire was going strong and I continued to watch my friend.I had my Flir thermal imager with me and it was not readily available for me to get it. My concern was the wolf and what its next move would be. It was less than 50 yards from my location and I estimated its size to be approximately 90 pounds.
After a few minutes, the wolf began moving along the creek paralleling it heading east toward Moonshine Park.I was able to get a picture of it using my cell phone with my headlamp shining on it.The picture came out grainy, but you are able to see in the center of the picture what the wolf looks like, (tail and head).After it was out of my sight I grabbed my thermal imager and scanned the area for other wolves with negative results.I went to sleep not long after my encounter hearing the sound of howling wolves.The experience to see this endangered species on my wilderness adventure was amazing.
Below is my video of my thoughts right after the encounter and a video taken the next morning.In the morning video, I show you where I saw the wolf the night before.
I call this article rucking up which means that I am getting ready for my next backpacking adventure outside of Florida. I am heading to the Blue Range Primitive located in the east portion of Arizona bordering New Mexico. I am going for a 5 day 4 night expedition. The Blue Range Primitive is located in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. I have been wanting to go into this remote and rugged wilderness area for quite a while. I finally have the resources, (money and time off from work), to take the trip. I am currently doing the logistics on this trip which encompasses getting flights, rental car, hotels, and many other things that I will need to make this adventure safe and successful. For a detailed planning guide see my article on, How to Prepare for a Backpacking Adventure. I plan on heading out on this adventure sometime at the end of April.
Blue Range Primitive Located in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (Arizona)
Before areas were designated wildernesses they were called Primitive. The Blue Range Primitive is the last designated primitive area established in 1933. In essence, a primitive is a wilderness area which follows the same rules that govern a wilderness area. The Blue Primitive is approximately 174,000 thousand Acre of remote and rugged landscape. Water is scarce in many parts with the trails difficult to follow. This is exactly what I am looking for when I want an adventure. Stay tuned for my adventure with an article and pictures to follow.
I recently returned from another overnight adventure into the Juniper Prairie Wilderness located in the Ocala National Forest (ONF). The Ocala Wilderness offers backpackers a different experience from other Wilderness Areas in North America. The Juniper Prairie Wilderness is one of 4 Wilderness areas in the Ocala National Forest. The terrain in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness is flat with a white sandy beach soil. The temperatures during my trip exceeded 100 degrees during the afternoon and it dropped into the upper 70’s in the evening which was a welcome relief.
If you decide to do some Wilderness Backpacking in Ocala during the Summer be prepared for a-lot of heat and humidity. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated and use electrolyte packets to replenish those lost minerals and salts that your body will lose in the heat and humidity. The Juniper Prairie Wilderness has seen an increase in bear activity. Make sure you carry bear spray and have it readily available.
Make sure that you have insect repellant with you and apply it to your clothing and skin before heading out (Permethrin and Picaridin). The summer months bring out many biting insects that can transfer diseases such as Lyme Disease and the Zika Virus. The best time to backpack the ONF is during the winter months. The heat and humidity in the summer can be very tough on backpackers if they are not used to the heat. In the winter months be prepared for very cold evenings getting into the 20’s. During winter months hypothermia is a possibility and you need to have the proper clothing and gear with you.
Backpacking the ONF is a challenge with many scenic beauties such as the open prairie areas in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness. The evenings are mystic especially if you go during a full moon cycle.