A dedication for our 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots!
On June 28th 2013 a hill near Yarnell Arizona was struck by lightning. On June 30th tragedy struck the entire state with the fire being overran and killing 19 of Arizona’s finest firefighters; the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The deadliest wildland fire for U.S fire fighters since 1933’s Griffith park fire which killed 29, and the deadliest wildfire ever in Arizona.
It seems only fitting for Arizona to make a memorial for the brave 19 men who lost their lives. Arizona state parks purchased 308 acres of land on the site of the 2013 Yarnell hill fire. On November 30th 2016 the park opened to the public so I made sure to be there with my dog Ruger, and pay my respects. This is what you’ll find on this breathtaking trail;
Starting off and throughout your way down every 600′ 19 granite plaques set into rocks share a photo and a story of each fallen hotshot. As well as signs along the way with information about woodland firefighting, the hotshots trail that day, and even the spot they ate lunch before heading down into the fire to continue fighting.
You will hike along and get to an observation deck where you can look below and see the fatality sight and 19 ribbons placed for each hotshot. This hike for me was very touching. I hiked with a very heavy heart that day. How could you not knowing the hike leads down to the fatality sight.
This tragedy hit home for everyone not only in our small town community but the entire state mourned the loss of these fine gentlemen! You can feel the love and care that went into creating this memorial. It was very beautifully done and if you’re in the area and get the chance, its well worth a visit to see, pay your respects, and hike a beautiful trail created for Arizona’s bravest!
Some things you need to take into consideration for this hike;
- It is steep coming back up. At almost 7 miles round trip, you will have an elevation gain of 1,837′. It is by no means a walk in the park so make sure physically you can handle it.
- Definitely take plenty of Water. There is no water along the way or at the trailhead.
- The earlier you start out the better. Especially in the summer to beat the heat.
- They say plan on taking four hours round trip. Depending on how long you spend down at the bottom as well. So make sure to plan for that.
- The parking lot is very small. So again, the earlier you arrive there the better.
- Dogs are welcome on a leash. There are times the path is very narrow with not much room so make sure your dog is well-behaved as he’ll be passing very close to people and other dogs side by side.
- Do not step inside the tribute circle with the 19 ribbons. Out of respect for those who lost their lives there, they ask you pay your respects outside the circle where there are also benches to sit.
And lastly…a tribute I wrote myself with Sandy Ramos and Galen green for the hotshots, their family, Yarnell residents and anyone affected. I hope you get to stop by and see this beautifully done tribute!