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Willow Dells Trail and Beyond! March 9, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, trails.
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On Sunday afternoon, I met Tracie at Willow Lake after we had each gone on seperate mountain bike rides.

We set out for an afternoon day hike on the newly complete Willow Dells Trail.  It is a 2 mile loop that meanders through, over and around part of the infamous Granite Dells area adjacent to Willow Lake.

We followed the trail in a counterclockwise direction, enjoying the scenery and marvelling at how some very good technical mountain bikers actually ride the trail.  There are all kinds of places that are hard enough to hike let alone bike!

Somewhere along the way we decided to follow what looked like a game trail almost directly east toward Willow Creek.  We hiked down a narrow drainage and eventually came out at the creek, but quite a ways below the dam.  We crossed over and walked out on the newly created paved road that is part of a new development (though there are no houses in this part of it yet).  We walked out to  Hwy 89 and followed it south about 200 yards then headed back toward the west on an existing road that turns to dirt and leads to an small section of private property right at the big bend in Willow Creek.

We then walked up to the base of the dam and then over below the spillway.  We followed the drainage from the spillway down to where the high dirt wall had been eroded away by years of spillway overflow.

From here we headed back in a northwest direction until we found another trail that led up and over some giant granite formations and dropped us back down into the Willow Dells Trail loop.  From there we just completed the loop and ended up back at our trucks.

It was a very nice afternoon spent hiking with my wife and our faithful pooch.

Day Hike on the GORD course March 5, 2009

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, Events, Trail Running.
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This afternoon Tracie and I took our youngest granddaughter, Brynn on a hike.

Yes, it was only a mile and a half, but for her little 5 year old legs it was a good long way.  True to form, she was her same happy-go-lucky self the whole way.  She carried a ziplock of goldfish crackers, and tried to identify all the tracks on the trail; horses, bikes and shoes.

The three (actually four, counting our dog Gypsy) of us had a nice walk.    We walked the first running leg of the Go! Off Road Duathlon, which is a nice mix of smooth wide track and a twisty single track.

I think those of you that are going to race in the GORD next week will really like the variety of trails on the course.

Mud and Catclaw August 28, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
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Because my mountain bike is still at the bike hospital, I had to fore go my usual Wednesday evening ride.

Instead, Kent joined me on a day hike.  We started up a drainage that before long became a canyon.  The sides of the canyon got steeper and steeper.  One side appeared to be a layered volcanic rock, and the other side looked sedimentary….very odd.  The trees grew thicker as the canyon narrowed into a serpentine chasm.  We rounded a hairpin bend and there in front of us was a waterfall….sans water.  It was a place where the water course fell about 15 feet in about 10 linear feet.  It must be really beautiful when water is tumbling over the surface.

We exited the canyon as it began to open back up into a valley again.  We then struck out toward a cone shaped mountain about a mile distant.  Because we were headed up the south-facing slope, it was filled with catclaw (or wait-a-minute bushes).  Good thing we were both wearing full length pants instead of shorts!  Catclaw is to human skin like a Bass-o-matic is to fish!

At the top of the mountain, we got to witness an amazing sunset.  Of course I didn’t have my camera with me!  The sky was mostly cloud covered except right at the western horizon.  The sky there was brilliant orange, and the sun rays shone up and across the bottom of the clouds just like we always drew them as children.  I expected to hear a Holy choir singing.

We headed down and across a valley in the direction of our vehicle.  The ground on the flats was muddy.  When we got back to the edge of the drainage, we were on the top of a rock face looking down into the canyon.  We climbed down the rock, and there in front of us were some petroglyphs!  I am always fascinated by the writings and drawings of the ancients of Arizona.

We continued into the canyon, and got back to the car right at last light.  It was only about a three and a half mile hike, but it was through some very pretty country!

Broken Bike Blues August 23, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, Mountain Biking.
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Bummer!  I went out to load my trusty Specialized FSR XC Pro and head out for a ride and felt an odd “looseness” when I grabbed the back of the seat.  I thought to myself, “Oh no, not my new BG2 Sport Saddle!”

Nope, not the seat.  The bottom bolt for my rear shock seemed to be loose.  I grabbed a hex wrench and tried to tighten it…..it just kept spinning around and around!

So I did load my bike up, but it wasn’t for a ride, it was to take it to the LBS so they could get me out on the trails again.  The shock bolt was actually sheared, so I left it with them thinking I would pick it up later.

Later is right!  When I went back to the shop, they had some bad news for me.  Not only are they having a hard time getting the broken bolt out, but it seems I also had trashed the bearings in the top pivot to the rear end (I don’t know the technical term for it in a Horst Link Suspension).

They said they had to order a new rear end re-build kit, and they would have my bike for about 2 weeks.


What am I gonna do!?  I guess I will do a lot of day hikes in the next 14 days.  Well, I guess I can take some solace in knowing that there is hardly any better place to do that then right here in Prescott.

I miss my bike already!

Afternoon In Arizona August 22, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, trails.
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Tracie and I put the dog in the pick-up and headed out to do a short hike on a trail we had never been on before.  We waited until the temperature dipped below 90° and then took the 20 minute drive to the trail.

The trail had not been used in a long while it appeared, because in the flats near the beginning, there were wild sunflowers growing eight feet tall right in the middle of the trail.  As we began to climb into the trees, the trail got very rocky and looked like the only thing that had been on it recently was runoff from the recent heavy rains.

When we got up near the top end, we had a stunning view of Granite Mountain and the surrounding area.  The trail got better as we went, I think partly because hikers usually come in to see the view from the end we were going out.  In other words, it is the more travelled half of the loop.

We made it back down to the flats, then hiked along the dirt road towards the truck.  Here’s something gross, there were literately hundreds of huge grasshoppers squished in the roadway…..and to make matters worse, other grasshoppers were cannibalizing them!

We took this hike at a very leisurely pace, and finished the 3 mile loop in a little over an hour and a half.

It is really nice that the days are long enough to get out in the hills at the end of the day for a short day hike.

Walk with the Dog August 19, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
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Tracie and I took our dog out on a day hike yesterday afternoon.  Because we were checking points for the upcoming Gilmore Adventure Race, I can’t divulge the location of our hike yet.

It was still pretty warm at 84° with a bright blue sky littered with big fluffy clouds that caused the humidity to be fairly high as well.  The temp and humidity made the sweat factor pretty high.

Oddly enough, we didn’t see anyone on the trails.  We did see a large tarantula though!

We didn’t go all that far, including the out-and-back that I did to one of the points while Tracie relaxed under a tree with the book she is currently reading, the total was only about 3.5 miles.

What a great way to spend an afternoon with the one you love!

Day Hike on Maverick Mountain July 15, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
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Tracie and I took the dog out on Sunday afternoon for a little bit of a hike along the Hassayampa River and up the north slope of Maverick Mountain.  First we drove in on FR 79 to Trail 284.  We walked down to the swimming hole I used to frequent as a little boy.  It amazes me that even such a high traffic area (relatively speaking) remains unchanged over the last 35 years.  We had a picnic lunch on the rocks around the swimming hole while the dog played in the water.  I spent a while building a small dam in order to redirect some of the water flow down a natural slide in the rocks.  Tracie watched a water beetle repeatedly try to scale the vertical rock wall next to the small waterfall.  I say repeatedly, because that darned beetle was persistant!  It would get part way up, only to loose its grip on the water-smoothed rock and fall back into the water.  She watched this happen about a dozen times while I played with the water flow.

Later, we headed up Maverick Mountain to Kendall Camp.  On the way we saw a young doe.  She was alone, and just watched us as we watched her.  Finally she sauntered off into the trees as we made our way uphill toward the old abandoned mining camp.  The apple trees in the old orchard are loaded, and will make good picking in about a month.  While we were there, the monsoons started to kick up, and we decided to head back down the mountain before we got too wet.

Though pretty steep, FR 79A and Trail 65 make for some great hiking.

Half Day Hike June 21, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
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Josh and I left early this morning to get some trail hiking in.  We ended up driving some Forest Service roads and exploring quite a bit too.

All in all, we probably hiked about 7 miles this morning.  We took it slow and did some trail maintenance along the way.  It got hot by about 9:00am today.  It feels like the monsoon is almost here, although I know from past experience, it is probably at least 3 weeks away.

Day Hike on 392 March 20, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking, Mountain Biking.
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I am always scouting the local trails for my Adventure Recreation business, so I took a short hike up trail 392 from Thumb Butte this afternoon.  Man is it great to see all the water running!  There was even one spot along the trail that was like a seep or slow spring, water was just coming out of the ground and running down hill to another small creek.  For anyone that is riding in the Whiskey in April, this part of the trail actually looks really good (did a little trail maintenance with my foot as I hiked along).  There are, however, several places where (right now anyway) you cross water.  That’s cool though, you always look a little more extreme if your bike is muddy!

Anyway, it was nice to get out for a quick hike, even if it was for only an hour or so.

A Memorable Hike up the Peaks March 19, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation, Day Hiking.
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The San Francisco Peaks a mountain that had its center blown out over a thousand years ago in similar fashion as what happened to Mount St. Helens back in 1980, but BIGGER.

The Peaks are on the rim of the volcano, and include Doyle Peak, Fremont Peak, Agassiz Peak, and the highest point in Arizona, at 12,633′ Mt. Humphreys.
This hike is only doable as a day hike if you are in very good shape, and can carry a lot of water. We did this hike in the first week of October before the snow came, but after the threat of summer lightning storms.  This requires leaving one car at the snowbowl recreation area so you can get back to the other car that you will leave at the trailhead.

The trail #102 trailhead is at Schultz Pass on Forest Road 42o, just a few minutes north of Flagstaff. The thing that I really love about this hike is the amazing scenery changes that you encounter as you hike up and up and up through different layers of flora until you suddenly emerge at Doyle Saddle to the incredible view across the inner basin to the towering Mt. Humphreys Peak.  The hike along the inside edge of the ancient volcano where rocks have tumbled like water down the steep interior slope is quiet and peaceful. Then the trail turns and takes you up into Fremont Saddle, where you encounter the view of Flagstaff and points south.  Another reason to stop and just enjoy.  From Fremont Saddle, the hike immediately goes above the tree line as you zig-zag up the east side of the pyramid like Agassiz Peak.  After almost 9 miles and 4000 feet of climbing, you come to the unnamed saddle that sits between Agassiz and Humphreys. This is where you get two more spectacular views; one looking northeast  down into the inner basin, and the other looking west towards Williams, Ash Fork and beyond.  Take the time to rest your body and your feet, assess your water supply and remaining daylight to see if there is enough time to make a summit attempt and still make it back down to the car before dark.  The hike up to the summit is not far, but is pretty tough due to the scarcity of oxygen, and the rock scrambling  that is required.  There are several false summits on the way up, you think, “there it is!”, just to find more trail leading further up the ridge when you get “there.”  Eventually, you DO actually get to the top, where you can turn 360° and everything you see is below you.  WOW!  On a clear day, you can actually see into the Grand Canyon.  Make sure you sign the log book in the ammo box!

As if you haven’t had enough for one day, now you have to beat your knees, hips and feet to a pulp as you descend back to the unnamed pass where the Humphreys Trail takes you down almost 3000′ in 4.5 miles.  Rocks and roots, roots and rocks…..that is what I remember most about this part of the hike.  You will come out of the thick forest and stroll across a meadow toward the parking lot after completing about 15 miles and seeing some of Arizona’s most beautiful sights.

When you get to the car, all you have to do is find someone in your party that can stay awake long enough to go pick up the other car!

Day Hike to Summit Half Dome February 25, 2008

Posted by Dave Of Prescott in Adventure Recreation.
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Last June I got to do something I have wanted to do most of my life, Summit the infamous Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. The thing that makes it even more memorable (if that is possible) for me is that I got to share the experience with my 18 year old son.

This is not a day hike for the out of shape or inexperienced hiker, let me tell you! The total distance is almost 16 miles with 8000′ of elevation change. We started out at the trail head early in the morning and climbed up and around Vernal Falls, then crossed the river at the top of Nevada Falls. From there it was about another 4 miles to the base of the granite dome. The way to the summit from there is by actually walking right up 400′ of the dome with the assistance of a set of double cables that you hold onto with both hands and walk between them. Many, many people hike all the way up to the cables only let fear (or maybe common sense) take over and they won’t go up the cables. I have to admit it can be a little scary at times, but oh my, is it ever worth it.

We spent some time at the top looking across at Glacier Point, Yosemite Falls, and down, way down, into the Yosemite Valley. It is hard to explain the rush I get from sharing awesome moments like this with my son. Memorable just doesn’t do it justice.

The trip back down the cables can be harrowing, as there are people coming up at the same time, and you have to find a way to safely pass one another without losing your grip on the cables. After reaching the trail again, it should be an easy 7 miles or so back to the trail head right? Wrong. When you have old and beat up knees like mine, going down steep trails is torture. When we got near Nevada Falls again, we took the trail that goes down next to the falls on the east side of them, then winds along and crossed the river just above Vernal Falls again. From here, there are about a gazillion stone steps that take you down right next to the falls. The swirling wind blows the fine mist into a shower for all the hikers, this is a welcome feeling on a hot afternoon!

We made it to the trail head again 8 hours after we started out. That included several stops to rest and refuel, and about 45 minutes at the summit, just enjoying our accomplishment and each other’s company.

That, was a great day.