Thursday, May 25, 2017

Flagstaff to Navajo Country

 

We spent a pleasant four nights in the Coconino National Forest about 20 miles south of Flagstaff, joining  friends Jeanne and dog Sierra, Laurelee and dog Libby, Barbara and dog Katie, and their friend John. Jeanne and John had a great site right on a small lake and we all managed to fit in around them. It’s a popular dispersed camping area and was very quiet during the week but there were way too many ATVs going by our road on the weekend.

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Our buddies Sierra and Libby.

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Ladies only happy hour with Laurelee, Jeanne, and Barbara. All three dogs were there but Katie on the right is the only one visible. They were busy chewing on bones.

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We took several walks on the forest roads and I did a bike ride. Lots of roads and the Arizona Trail go off for miles in all directions, with occasional views of the San Francisco Peaks.

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We were parked on the other side of Pickett Lake, which we were told dries up in the summer.

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One morning Laurelee and Libby joined us for a hike on the Sandys Canyon trail off Lake Mary Road. It started off with a glimpse down into the volcanic rock of Sandys Canyon.

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A climbing area called The Pit is accessed from another trail.

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After the trail drops down into Walnut Canyon the walking is easy.

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There are signs for Fisher Point overlook in 1.1 miles, which we thought was the way we wanted to go, but it was a steep climb and Libby was getting tired so we turned back after a half mile.

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Went back down to the canyon floor to have lunch in the cave below Fisher Point. We ended up hiking almost 7 miles, a good day on the trails.

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Another day we went to town to check out the big sale at REI, and get a few groceries at Sprouts. Jim ended up buying hiking boots and a pair of more casual shoes to replace the ones he’s been wearing that were falling apart. They really had a good sale going on.

We were hungry after shopping so we went to the historic downtown area and had a black bean veggie burger at Altitudes Bar and Grill., next to the train station/visitor center. It was half price burger day, but you had to also get a drink to get the half price, so we each had a beer, an ale and and IPA that were both good. Then we walked the streets, where Jim had to check in all the outdoor shops to be sure he didn’t find any better deal on shoes, which he didn’t.

Yesterday we moved on about 160 miles northeast to Navajo National Monument. We did an overnight here once before and it’s a great free place to stop, as long as you are not in a big rig. The sign says 28’ length limit and there are only a few sites long enough for our 30’. Luckily there weren’t many people here when we arrived so we ended up in the same site we were in before. It’s wide enough to park the car next to the rig.

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Last evening we hiked a couple of the trails, first the paved trail to the Betatakin cliff dwelling overlook.

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Then the Aspen trail, which drops 300’ in 0.4 miles to overlook an ancient aspen forest.

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It’s a beautiful park, and when we were here in June 2015 it was really hot so we opted not to do a guided hike to the ruins. Thought this would be a good opportunity since it’s cooler, but they don’t start doing tours until Memorial Day so we’re a few days too early. Maybe next time…

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Today we’re heading to Dolores, CO where we have reservations for the holiday weekend. Unfortunately our streak of things going wrong has not ended, as the last few times we’ve driven the Lazy Daze, air from the dash vents quits blowing and only comes out the defrost vents while accelerating up a hill. We have two friends (who are nowhere nearby) who had a similar issue with theirs and both were able to fix it themselves with a little help from the internet. We plan to take a look at it this weekend to see if we can figure it out before searching for a mechanic.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hiking the Hogs

 

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For our last hike in Sedona we wanted to check out one of the areas where the expert mountain bikers ride. Hans and Lisa recommended several trails, so we picked the Hogs, just a few miles south of town. We started at the Mystic trailhead in a swanky neighborhood on the road to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Sedona landmark visible from Hwy 179.

A glimpse of the chapel from the trailhead.

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We took the Mystic trail to Hog Wash, then turned off on Hog Heaven and made a loop with High on the Hog, Broken Arrow and back on Hog Wash to Mystic, for a 5 mile hike.

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High on the Hog and Hog Heaven are rated double black diamond trails, meaning only insane adrenaline junkies would ride a bike here. We saw one young woman biking on the Mystic trail, but none on the more difficult trails. We tried to take a couple photos to show how tough these trails are, but it doesn’t look as bad in the pictures. We would never even consider riding them, as it was challenging enough just hiking. Much of the trail is on exposed ledges with steep drops, so a fall could be devastating.

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I found this information about the trails which officially opened in the fall of 2014:                                  

In recent years, a spirit of cooperation has emerged between the U.S. Forest Service and the Sedona mountain-biking community. The Hogs were social trails that had been around for a couple of decades but were technically illegal. Instead of trying to eradicate the pathways, the Forest Service put together a plan to adopt them. Using grant money from PeopleforBikes, a Colorado-based organization, and aided by an army of volunteers — mostly bikers — the trails have been rebuilt and improved, and signs have been installed.

At the trail intersections there is good signage and maps so it’s hard to get lost, although we did take a wrong turn once, which we discovered in about a quarter of a mile when we reached a parking lot. These trails have excellent views that would not be appreciated on a bike.

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There is a lot of variety, from views of Sedona to vistas of Munds Mountain Wilderness.

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Reminiscent of Many Pools in Zion.

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We came upon a couple of the famous Pink Jeeps on the Broken Arrow trail. It sounded like they were having fun.

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And got to see some more mansions among the red rock.

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We only saw six other hikers and would highly recommend these trails if you want to get off the beaten path of the more touristy hikes in the area. We did all those when we were here on previous visits so it was great to find some less popular trails.

Today we move north near Flagstaff to meet up with friends.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Red Rock, Ruins, and Repairs

 

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It’s been a very windy, cool week here in Sedona, with some clouds and a bit of rain, which was okay since we had other issues to take care of. Jim spent hours trying to find a replacement for our ailing inverter but wasn’t having much luck. Thanks to discovering an unconnected wire and a little help from the Lazy Daze forum, he was able to contort himself under the refrigerator to connect what was a loose ground wire. Problem solved.

Some photos from a loop hike on the Ridge, Carroll Canyon and Old Post trails, which we accessed off Shelby Road. We were fairly protected from the wind during most of the hike, and did not see anyone else on the trails.

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New construction with a view.

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Jim wanted to get a small inverter we could use to charge the computers if need be, so we paid a visit to the Cottonwood Walmart. I’m glad Jim was driving as he had an incident with a curb, which resulted in replacing all four tires on the Subaru. At least we were close to a Discount Tire, and they had a suitable tire in stock. The tires were three years old and the tread was pretty worn anyway so we didn’t feel too bad.

Some scenes from Hwy 89A along Oak Creek Canyon just north of Sedona. It’s a beautiful drive even on an overcast day.

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While running the generator to test the inverter the other day, we noticed it sounded much louder than normal, almost like a muffler with a hole in it. I thought it was something rattling in the kitchen cabinets, but checked and couldn’t find a cause. Jim had replaced the air filter a couple months ago so he went outside to look at the generator and found the cover over the filter had come loose and was just lying there, along with the wing nut. Probably happened while driving the bumpy road to get to our site, so he put it back on and made sure the nut was tight. Another problem solved.

Yesterday we took a short hike and tour at the Pulatki and Honanki ruins. These cliff dwellings were built and inhabited by the Sinagua people around 1150 AD. They are located in a scenic canyon, and this is the view from the two RV host sites next to the visitor center. They have no internet at their sites, and it’s a slow 10 miles on a rough dirt road to get out for shopping, but it might be a nice gig for a month or two.

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It’s a lovely hike to get to the ruins.

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I’m glad we took the tour to give us some background information about the site. It was inhabited for about 200 years, and is not known why they left.

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Ripples in the rock showing evidence of an ancient sea bed.

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There is also a huge pictograph site. Looked like the kids kept busy painting on the walls. The docent told us the Sinagua had a life expectancy of only 20-25 years, and a very high infant mortality rate.

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Some of the original art was painted over by later people, such as the Yavapai and Apaches.

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The Honanki ruins are about 6 miles from Palatki, and the last 2-3 miles of the road gets pretty bad. We did see a couple of sedans and the Subaru made it just fine, but it’s a very slow go. It was a good test for our new tires.

These ruins are similar and it is a self-guided tour so it was good to take the tour of Palatki first.

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To round out our list of malfunctions this week, last night I turned on the Panasonic Lumix FZ200, our “big” camera which Jim usually uses. He took loads of photos at the ruins yesterday and it was working fine but I could not even get it to turn on, so we charged the battery, removed the SD card, and it still wouldn’t work. This is the camera that got full of red mud when Jim fell in Capitol Reef a few years ago, and we had it repaired so we really don’t want to spend more money on getting it fixed again. It has been doing fine until last night, so I guess we’ll be in the market for another eventually. We have been hemorrhaging money lately, so Jim may just use his phone for awhile. He will miss that long zoom, though.

I opened the shades to this sight at 6:30 this morning.

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There were 6 of them and one landed very close to us.

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What a nice surprise. I just hope we have only pleasant surprises and nothing else breaks today.

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