We stashed the big rig at Coal Mine Campground and continued up the back side of the mountain in Ann's 4WH.
But the summit was socked in.
I lobbied to check out FR193, and lo and behold, the clouds parted, and we stumbled upon the trailhead for Gooseberry Springs!
It turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous hike, a pine-needle-strewn path through a mature forest of ponderosa pine interspersed with colonies of gleaming white aspen. It reminded us of what it
used to be like in the high Chiricahuas, before the fires.
After a steady climb of about 1½ miles, we emerged on the edge of the vast green meadow that covers the south slope of Mount Taylor.
The mix of monsoon clouds and late afternoon sun made for unforgettable views. Photo by Ann H (scroll for a panorama).
We clambered to a saddle at 10,800 feet to peer over the edge of the ancient cauldron, separated by a dramatic interior valley known as "Water Canyon".
From Wikipedia: "To the Navajo people, Mount Taylor is Tsoodził, the blue bead mountain, sometimes translated Turquoise Mountain, one of the four sacred mountains marking the cardinal directions and the boundaries of the Dinetah, the traditional Navajo homeland."
A few sharp claps of thunder sent us scurrying back down the mountain. We made it back to the truck just before the rain, happy to tuck into our cozy
campsite for the night.