Mokaak Historic Trail, Arizona Strip - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-31-2012, 01:15 PM Thread Starter
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Default Mokaak Historic Trail, Arizona Strip

Hello there!
There is a little known and very rarely hiked historic trail through the Arizona Strip that I visited yesterday for a few hours. Had some company along the way.
The Mokaak (mow-kee-yak) trail, a native American Name for a nearby mountain is a sad, lonely almost fogotten trail that has to compete with the likes of Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Deep Slots of navajo Sandstone, and higher, more alive mountians to the north with grand peaks, ski areas, and elk. Here, the scruffy coyote, cougar and some deer and other animals eke a living on what is land that was so overgrazed that even the cattle barons lost their stock because of drought years and alkali stained watering holes with bleached bones scattered and stacked one animal upon another sandblasted shiny white are testament to land rape, greed, survival, economics, etc. all lessons learned the hard way. The west was new to explore and as they dragged the land with fences, hogged the watering holes, shot the Indians who trespassed for water which was defended by the rancher with his needle gun.

In 1871, age and suffering from Reumatism, the Mormon leader and prophet of their church as well as being the territorial governor, Brigham Young spent a lot of his time out of Salt Lake City in the winter months where his bones ached from the cold winters. Here in St. George, the mild winters allowed him to govern his people from his winter home where it was mild and snowed only on occasion and meleted by afternoon. His people became tired and there were several who were talking of leaving the area and moving on. The temple in Salt Lake was being delayed now for six years. Here in St. George, many of his core faithful were living. Here, he came to them one day and asked if they would like a temple in St. George. This ignited the people into a new purpose. They now had a goal to reach. And reach it, they did.

Lumber had to be very stout and sturdy for such a tall temple. But, where would we get the wood? Eighty miles to the south stood Mt. Trumbull. Some of you CTers have been to the schoolhouse there!! I love to go and ring the bell.
So, a mill was set up eighty miles to the south and lumber was milled, measured, carefully loaded and run by wagon across the desert and over Seegmiller Mtn. on this very trail.

Workers were paid in butter and cheeze from a dairy located 50 miles east at Pipe Springs which at the time was claimed as Utah Land. The Mormons were, at times, kinder to the local Native Americans than they could have been at that time in history and westward expansion. They gave the Moccasin Paiute Indians water shares at pipe springs. But, some moron decided to use a stick of Giant and make the spring put forth more water. Well, it all but shut down to a trickle. Almost killed the dairy operation. More water was finally brought forth but never to the original flow.
The elevation loss and gain on this trail from both valley floors is 800'. I saw no other footprints here. This sad little historic trail is rarely visited. It has a place along the trail called the Hayrocks. Here, people would pile up hay between two large boulders that were exiled from the cliffband and lie along the trail. It was sorta a "gas" station of the 1870's hehe. A pit stop. It was made into a nice little picnic area as an Eagle Scout project by a kid years ago but the picnic table has been long since stolen and sagebrush has grown over everthing. Only thing I saw was a dead coyote behind the one rock.
The St. George Temple was built and the Mormons had a temple that is the oldest temple in service, this day. I hiked to the promise of a spring only to find it capped, with pipe running along the hillside to eventually feed grazing cattle below on the lowlands. Even the yellow jackets had to fight for a drink. Occasional cougar sightings in the area as the other side of the canyon has a very busy road called Mainstreet which goes over the mtn into the lands of the Arizona Strip. 2 million acres all are dirt roads that go on for hundreds of miles splitting to unknown destinations. Polygamists escaping the harassment of their beliefs by society still escape to the Arizona Strip for privacy. Outlaws, renegades, miners were the only ones left to still try to make it out here after the overgrazing and droughts. Today, Ranchers, part time at best come in the fall to winter over cattle and remove them all by late spring. Those remaining are coyote food. The hot desert will dry up and there is very little chance of survival.
As the overgrazing occurred, the sheepmen and cattle ranchers giving in to the large cattle corporations who bought them out by stealing all the watering holes. He who controlled the water controlled the livestock and all life. Many moved on, surrendering to the large corporations that eventually killed their own profits when huge droughts year on end after year on end would deplete their profits. The heat made no cow puncher want to work in these conditions. The Native American Indians had had enough. Thus commenced the Black Hawk wars because they were demied access to water. The Pioneers put them on reservations and made peace. Now, there was a glimmer of hope.....in this mad world, blame it on greed or lack of knowledge. These Europeans came from lands where it had water. The govt finally stepped in with acts and laws to protect water and limit the number of cattle you can have per acre and watershed. It worked. The land was finally laid to rest; its natural ecosystem was able to now limp back into some kind of new life.

Today, 130 years later, I am walking on a wagon track that is all but forgotten. This place upon viewing is quite ugly, overgrazed, scarred by fire. Trees, too proud to lie down after being scorched stand til the elements finally drag them down. The monsoon runs through like a mad child throwing a tantrum always preceded with high winds, lightning that strikes and burns a corridor of death. Then, like a mother picking up after a childs rant, the rain comes to put out the fire and leave it steaming for days. The desert chaparral that gets the rain and not the fire is a different place. Birds chriping, seeds deposited eons ago spring to live. In Navajo sandsone, water forms into pools like drinking fountains. Tadpoles spring to life once again for another short lived cycle. I can literally walk along a pathway, one foot on green lush grasses and the other on scorched death.
But, rebirth, though very very slow in the desert will occur.

So, farewell to this ugly little trail that is forgotten on the road to much brighter things to see and do.... Funny odd note. This side of the canyon was a gentle approach to the summit pass. The other side was too deep. Well, people have died rolling their vehicles off of the road on the other side into the ravine. They even put guardrails up on a dirt road which is unheard of in the Arizona Strip.
Seems the ol road aint' so bad after all....


May your trails be crooked, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views ! Edward Abbey
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 09:09 PM
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There is so much history in this part of Arizona. Thanks for bringing it out to us, Jerry.

BTW, check your email. Are you ready to rappel down some mountains/canyons, do some overnight or kayak trips?






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post #3 of (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 09:45 PM Thread Starter
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No rapping but an overnighter on top of Beautiful Red Mtn would be great!! Come on down!
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 09-04-2012, 10:06 PM
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A well-written and interesting read, Jerry. Fantastic details and descriptions.
One for the book, for sure! [^]
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 09-11-2012, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Piika! I guess I waxed sentimental on this one. I like to think back to the ones who were here before us and paved the way. I appreciate their efforts. The saddest thing I probably ever saw was a simple grave of a chinese railroad worker along the Union Pacific lines. Final epitaph written in the occupants native tongue to be viewed by people like me who do not know what is being said. The stone bleached white from alkali and sandblown so that many of the chinese characters are not legible. One day, they will fade away, all together. the stone marker, drizzled with bird droppings serves as a rest stop for passing birds. I was amazed to find, sprinkled all around the grave, chips of obsidian.
I held them up to the sun and looked through the translucent cherds to see beautiful swirls of black lines layered one upon another through clear glass. I want to ride the rail through there but it would cost me a ton!! No people train goes through there. Not even livestock. I have a number of a guy in charge who will let me ride and photograph the whole line from Vegas up to Salt Lake but I am too poor for time off and money for it. Opportunity of a lifetime, I think.[^]
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