Sunday, May 28, 2017

Back In Colorado

We are now at McPhee campground in the San Juan National Forest near Dolores, CO, just north of Cortez. It was a beautiful 160 mile drive through the Four Corners area to get here. We picked a good place to spend Memorial Day weekend, as the campground is nowhere close to being full and has been very quiet.


After the Panasonic camera died we each tried it daily in the hope that it would start working again. I even resorted to hitting it a few times, and turning the mode dial to see if it would turn on in a different setting. Surprisingly I finally got it to come on, but it kept saying that the mode dial was not in the correct position, and would shut itself off. Jim had contacted a friend who used to repair cameras and he suggested turning the dial repeatedly, which would clean the contacts if some dust or dirt had gotten in there, so that’s what we did. It would still not stay on, but after we got here I turned the dial over and over again and it came on and stayed with no error message. We’ve taken it walking with us three days in a row now and it seems to be working just fine. Maybe it was just a matter of a little dust in there, since it stopped working after our last hike in Sedona, where it was very windy every day.

All of these photos were taken with the revived Lumix FZ 200 from the Can-Do trail, which goes along the rim for a half mile, then switchbacks steeply down 400’ for another half mile to the lake.



The company town of McPhee, now submerged in the reservoir, was built in 1924 by the New Mexico Lumber Company. At one point half of Colorado’s lumber was produced here. After several fires and the depletion of timber, it closed in 1948.




A closer look at the snow on La Plata Range of the San Juan mountains near Durango.


I believe this is a female collared lizard. She was not as friendly as the one that crawled on Jim’s shoe in Sedona.



We stayed here for a week in July 2012, when we visited Mesa Verde and some other sights in the area, so this time we are just hanging around doing some home maintenance. We did a little cleaning inside and out, and Jim changed the oil in the Lazy Daze engine and generator.



We also took a ride to the cute little town of Dolores, about 6 miles from here, to pick up a pie at the Dolores Food Market. Their pies are some of the best we’ve had anywhere. This time we got apple, and it was delicious.


House Creek is another forest service campground on the other side of the reservoir. It’s not far as the crow files but a 21 mile drive from McPhee.


After picking up a pie we drove a few miles farther to the Boggy Draw trailhead. We heard there are some good, easy mountain bike trails so we wanted to take a hike there to see if we thought we could ride them. As we pulled in the parking lot we saw a couple of familiar faces, Dave and Deb, camphosts at McDowell, who are now working at a campground near Dolores. They were just heading off for a ride, and told us the 9 mile Boggy Draw trail was the easiest loop, so we plan to take the bikes over there tomorrow and give it a try. Today it’s time for a visit to the laundromat, then see if we can figure out the air vent problem.




We’re paid up here until Tuesday but not sure where we’re going next. We have about 3 1/2 weeks before we plan to be in the Denver area and would like to cover some new territory along the way, but it will be dependent on the weather. We may not decide until we pull out Tuesday morning.

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.


Our buddies Sierra and Libby.


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.


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.



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


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.


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


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



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.


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.




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.


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





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





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…


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



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.


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.




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.



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.


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



Reminiscent of Many Pools in Zion.







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



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


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.