Our last full day in the Gila National Forest, we hiked more of the Continental Divide Trail heading north from the campsite. It was a steady climb as we headed towards Jack’s Peak. With an elevation of 7,553 feet, the peak is one of the tallest in the Burro Mountain range. We did not hike all the way to the summit as it is a 8.5 mile round trip hike and, while that is certainly in my range, I’m not inclined to hike to the summit of a mountain riddled with cell towers! We did reach some higher elevation, though, as evidenced by the Ponderosa Pine forest we encountered near Jack’s Peak.
Just as we neared the Ponderosa Pine forest, I noticed some old leaves on the trail that looked just like the familiar white oak leaf of the Northeast and suspected that there must be some Gambel Oak in the area. Ascending the trail, I did not see where the old leaves might have originated. I looked all around to see if I could spot the oak tree. After turning around and heading back down the trail, I noticed right away an old gnarled tree coming out in leaf. It’s amazing how a different perspective can make a difference! It was the Gambel Oak! I just loved the way the sunlight was catching the bright green new leaves!