Saturday, July 16, 2011


It was as if bells were ringing and the angels were singing as my sister and I drove into Greer, Arizona.  Greer is the tiny gem at the end of a road in the White Mountains.  My family and I have spent many summers in this magical little hamlet so we were heartsick when it appeared to be a victim of the horrific Wallow Fire that recently tore up over 500,000 of some of the most beautiful acres in eastern Arizona.

Road into Greer
We made a quick trip to Greer to see for ourselves the aftermath of the fire. Holding our breath as we traveled down Highway 373 we were immersed in gorgeous green trees interspersed with charred and toasted trees along the road and on the surrounding mountains.

Lazy Trout Market
First familiar site: the Lazy Trout Market, formerly the Circle B.  We popped in and bought a few needed items: Big Hunk (really?) and a Pay Day.

Eastern Slope
Then we looked to the left and our eyes drifted from healthy trees, to brown trees, to blackened sticks along the ridge-line.

Rendezvous Diner

Next up, the Rendezvous Diner:  Still intact but surrounded by heaps of sandbags to prepare for potential flooding if the rains come down faster than can be absorbed.

Molly Butler Lodge
Right next door is Molly Butler Lodge.  Been there forever and still looking good. Whew.

Western Slope
The western side of the valley was untouched.  Gorgeous.

Amberian Peaks Lodge - Greer
We stayed at the Amberian Peaks Lodge, newly renovated with spacious rooms and tucked away at the end of the road. The fire came close but it also survived.

View from Amberian Peaks Lodge
Just look at that view? And those blue skies--perfection. Oh, and did I tell you the high temperatures are around 77 degrees?  Lows in the mid-40's.  If you live anywhere near Phoenix you know those are summer temperatures that one only can dream about.

Heading into Butler Canyon
Now comes the hard part.  We were fortunate to become acquainted with a great guy, Andy Kurtz, who spent his summers growing up in Greer and is now a retired hydrologist. He took us into Butler Canyon to see the aftermath of what appeared to be an inferno. First, things look pretty good--lots of green, a bit of charring. Not too bad.

Andy pointing out the burn pattern and erosion
Then we walk about 100 yards and we are in the middle of a cindered forest walking on top of a good 8 inches of ash and silt.

Burned out root holes sneak up on you if you aren't careful, meaning you can literally sink up to your knees.  So we tread very carefully.

A bit of hope
After being in the middle of a film noir, the splash of green was a feast for the eyes.

The Bracken Fern are up!
And all that Bracken Fern now practically looks like a full blown dancing meadow.

Can you spot the deer? (Right side of pic)

After our tour, we returned to our lodge for dinner and a movie (a fun little Russian film that we brought with us, The Concert).

As you can imagine, the firefighters saved Greer and the community could not be more grateful.  Large "thank you" signs were posted all over the place (which, oddly, I only have one hard to read picture of).

Hand made thank you sign to firefighters at top (squint your eyes, that might help)
Note:  Over 30 structures were lost in the Wallow Fire.  Family homes and cabins perished.  I did not post any pictures of burned-out structures out of respect for the owners.

Next up: Nutrioso, Alpine, and Hannagan Meadow


  1. Thank you for posting this photo journey. SO glad to see that much of Greer still remains.

  2. I just love your blog! I always find something good to eat and beautiful to look at (except of course the remains of the forest fire). Thanks!

  3. Thank you for your pictures and comments. It is good to see all that was saved and sad to see the devastation. The little green ferns are a beautiful sign of hope.

  4. Wonderful to see, I love the dancing ferns too!