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Green Fire Trail Backpack and Day Hike

White Mountain Conservation League Event Will Celebrate the Return of the Mexican Gray Wolf to the Southwest

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BY CHEDISKI

On September 18th and 19th the White Mountain Conservation League will hold a celebration of the proposed Green Fire interpretive trail. The trail will celebrate one of the most important moments in the history of environmental ethics and the return of the Mexican Gray Wolf to the southwest. On September 19th 1909 Aldo Leopold sat at an overlook on the Black River just above where Bear Creek enters the river. There he and his companions saw a wolf fording the river below and shot her. In his essay “Thinking Like a Mountain,” Leopold pointed to the moment when he saw ‘the fierce green fire dying in her eyes” as a turning point in his life. He would go on to argue that maintaining high level predators such as wolves was critical to land health. The White Mountain Conservation League is working with the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest to create an interpretive trail near where the wolf killing took place. This year we will celebrate the 101st anniversary of the event by holding a backpack and day hike along the Black River where Leopold watched “the fierce green fire dying….”

Directions to the trailhead are at http://azwmcl.org/blogFiles/DirectionsToBearCreekTrailhead.pdf

Backpack:
At noon on Saturday September 18th, those interested in participating in an overnight backpack will join trip leader Don Hoffman at the Bear Creek trailhead. They will walk down to the Black River, then hike upstream and camp overnight near the area where the wolf died. There will be plenty of time for participants to explore this area of the Black River which is eligible for Wild and Scenic River protection as well as an evening campfire presentation.

Day Hike:
At 9:30 AM on Sunday September 19th, those interested in the day hike only will meet at the Bear Creek Trailhead. They will descend Bear Creek to the Black where they will meet with the backpacking group. The combined group will then hike up the other side of the Black River along the route of the proposed trail, to the overlook where Leopold first saw the wolf, then back down to the area where the wolf died. Along the way we will be talking about the proposed trail, the Mexican Wolf reintroduction program, and have readings from Leopold . The backpack is a relatively easy 1-2 mile (one way) trip, while the day hike will be a moderate 5-6 mile hike. Both groups will have to ford the Black River so plan on getting your feet wet. The backpack is limited to no more than 20 people (first come first serve) while the day trip is open to all.

For those interested in car camping and then doing the day hike, sites are available a few miles away at various Forest Service campgrounds along the East Fork of the Black River. There is also dispersed camping available in the area.

To reserve a spot, get directions to the Bear Creek Trailhead, or for questions, contact Russ Winn at ruwinn@nmsu.edu.