We drove up to hike the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial Trail.
On June 30, 2013, a team of firefighters gave their lives trying to protect the people who lived in a small town. The plan was to contain a wildfire but shifting winds cut them off from the town and overwhelmed their location. Two hours after the last radio contact it was confirmed they had all perished in the fire.
This is a 7 mile round trip hike that gains 1245 feet from the start and then 491 foot hike down to the Fatality Site. So 1245 foot climb up then 491 foot down and back up then down the 1245 feet to the start of the hike.
Yes, this is a difficult hike. The first mile is fairly easy but from there the next couple of miles is rock steps and surface are fairly rough. No one who has difficulty walking on rough surfaces or can't step up and down 2 foot transitions of which there are several.
The trail is dedicated to the 19 firefighters who died at the location of the memorial on the far end of the trail. On Sunday, June 30th, 2013 Hotshots (specialty forestry firefighters) were fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire when the wind shifted and cut them off from any safe path. As they moved to the closest location to safety, they were overwhelmed by the fire. All their efforts to protect themselves failed. They were killed by the fire they were fighting.
Along the trail are memorial plaques for each member of the team which includes some information on each individual. At each, there are items left in tribute. Small Flags, Challenge coins, patches, … We read each. Young, Experienced, Married, Fathers, Single... each a hero in their own right.
The hike has dozens of switchbacks and several small water crossings though only one really required walking on rocks to stay dry.
As we stood overlooking the fatality site, there were many tributes and displays explaining the details.
The fatality site is very well laid out to be a memorial and it is clear to anyone this is a place that is sacred for quiet reflection on the sacrifice.
It was very emotional. The memorial is not what I expected but the rustic nature fits to the description of the men who died here. They did a hard, dirty, and dangerous job... giving their lives protecting others.
After a short while we decided, we had to return to the truck so we would be home before dark. We definitely do not want to try to hike back after sunset. That would not be smart.
There were a few creatures but not much wild life or flowers.
We are a couple who have started on a new adventure...