White Horse Lake is a beautiful campground in the National Forest outside of Williams, Arizona. Within a few hours from school, it provides a beautiful place to escape for a wimpy camper like me who likes the basic luxury of a hole in the ground toilet facility and a faucet for running water. Heck, I was proud of myself for going somewhere overnight with no electricity.
I love campground food. Smores, hotdogs cooked over open flames, and meals cooked all in one pot over a campfire. And you can’t forget dinner by citronella candle…
Just off of the campground is an easy hike to Sycamore Canyon. If you don’t want to camp over night, you can also park at the day trip lot and hike from there. The hike was very peaceful as it wound around the lake and into the pine forest.
One of the things that surprised me about the forests of Northern Arizona was the general lack of underbrush. Back in Southeast Texas, it’s almost impossible to walk through the forest unless there is some kind of path or white tail deer run because of the very thick underbrush. In Northern Arizona, the space between the towering pine trees is relatively vacant.
Camping in Arizona and camping in Texas is also fairly different. The biggest surprise for me was the sharp drop in temperature at night. In my part of Texas, the difference between the high and the low is usually less than 20 degrees, and sometimes less than 10 degrees. I knew that the drier desert regions of Arizona could experience huge temperature drops after sundown, and that I’d seen 40 degree drops in Prescott (though not always that drastic), but we were camping up near Flagstaff, in the National Forest. The temperature there wouldn’t drop that much, right? Wrong.
The temperature was about 70 degrees when we reached the campsite at midday. Beautifully perfect for camping, right? That night, the temperature plummeted to 25 degrees. Needless to say, my 40 degree rated sleeping bag (which was always more than enough in Texas) suddenly provided nothing less than a cocoon of ice. I couldn’t get warm all night and could only doze on and off.
When the hint of sunlight began to illuminate the walls of the tent, I bolted out and began to build a fire in our fire pit. As I waited for it to really get going, I went to watch the sun rise over the lake. At around 5 a.m. steam rose off the lake in plumes that created a scene that looked like something out of a dream. I took the opportunity to practice some amateur photography.
It took me a few hours to warm up next to the fire. I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon cooked in a cast iron pan over a campfire. When the temperatures reached over 40 degrees and I had warmed by the fire, I returned to the tent to take a nice long nap.
We then enjoyed hiking and a couple more meals before we packed up to return to Prescott. I learned a lot about outdoor adventuring through my camping and hiking trips this summer, and I gained a greater appreciation for the power and beauty of Mother Nature.