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March 3: White Tank Mountains, Surprise, AZ

Today was our last full day at White Tank this year - at least as far as we know. I was up early and was greated by a lovely sunrise and the yapping and yipping of nearby coyotes.

The reward of getting up early to walk to the facilities is excellent sunrises.

Determined to make it out to Willow Canyon, we got a relatively early start to the day. Corn tortillas with refries and smoked gouda, topped with salsa were on the menu for breakfast. Once fed, we slapped together some food for the trail and headed out.

Mesquite Canyon Trail conveniently connects to our campground, so we were hiking in no time, beginning our ascent of Mesquite Canyon. Our goal was an 8-mile out and back, including Willow Canyon Trail.

We leave Mesquite Canyon and begin to cross over to Willow Canyon.

My photos cannot adequately illustrate the drama of the canyon landscape - the steep drop-offs, the few-hundred-deep canyon floors, the soaring cliffs. Also missing is the soundtrack of the day - birdsong including canyon wrens, Gila woodpeckers, cactus wrens, curve-billed thrashers, and more.

These photos do not illustrate the rubber-leg-causing steep drop-offs into 300 foot deep canyons. Yikes!

We were wowed by Willow Canyon and the way the trail cut along the top of the canyon, gradually rising to meet the canyon wash. We stopped to have lunch in Willow Canyon, enjoying the views and watering the dogs in the pools of water from yesterday's rain.

Although we (Glen) carried water for the dogs, there was plenty to be had due to recent rainfall.

While we sat and ate our peanut butter, banana and honey sandwhiches (which I would normally not be caught dead eating), I admired this bowl-shaped canyon ridge.

Who thought up all these trails??

On north-facing slopes, we spiied various lichen and mosses.

More feasts for the eyes - this incredible place on Mother Earth.

Grand plans for supper that we discussed while hiking back to the campsite were abandoned in favor of a can of baked beans, some chips and salsa and wine. It just seemed like too much work to fire up the Coleman and make actual supper. We talked about how remarkable this park is - so big and so well-cared-for. There must be a serious budget to maintain all the facilities at this and other Maricopa County Regional Parks.

Nyssa excels at the art of upright power nappiing, though eventually she gave in to full nap mode.

Now we lounge in our little tent, a Nemo Dagger 3-person tent we purchased late last year. For us, it is spacious compared to our last tent, but the reality is it's only 44 square feet - yes, we've been living in 44 square feet for five weeks now! At least we can sit up in it without our heads touching the top of the tent - that's real luxury! : )

Tomorrow we head over to Apache Junction, AZ. Good night.

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