Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hiking the Kachina Trail, Flagstaff, AZ

It rained most of the drive up to Flagstaff, but by the time the group arrived and assembled at the parking lot for the Kachina Trail, there were just light sprinkles.

Let's go! (I'm in the red poncho with the walking stick).

The hike took us through ferns and aspen.

There were a few rocks blocking the path that we needed to scramble over.

The fog gave an eerie feel to the forest.

We reached a nice rocky overcropping. This was a nice place for the group to all catch up. It also gave us a chance to stash away our rain gear and have a little snack.

Time to get moving!

Leaving the forest, we entered a beautiful alpine meadow.

The fog continued to roll in and out, but the rain held off.

After another climb, the group reassembled for another break (and another snack).

When the clouds moved, there was a spectacular view.

The sun actually came out in time for lunch. We all lined up like turtles on logs and sunned ourselves while enjoying lunch. I was even able to take off my fleece sweatshirt briefly!

Then we heard thunder in the distance and decided it was time to turn back. We didn't want to be caught on the mountain in a thunderstorm.

Despite what this looks like, I did not hold up the group while I put my gloves back on!

We headed back down a little faster than we climbed up ... trying to beat the storm.

Almost done and still alive and smiling!
About 5 minutes later, just as I was reaching the parking lot, the sky opened up and started pouring. I was able to get my poncho on and run to the car without getting too wet. The people about 10 minutes behind me weren't so lucky!

Trail Stats:

Distance One Way 5 miles

Trailhead Elevation 9500 feet

Elevation Gain -700 feet

Avg Time One Way 5 - 6 hours

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mingus Mountain, View Point Trail #106

This weekend, I headed to Mingus Mountain (between Prescott and Jerome, AZ) for another "training hike" My intent was to hike the Woodchute Trail, but I couldn't manage to find the trail head. Instead, I found the trail head for the View Point Trail #106. I had no idea how long the trail was or the level of difficulty, so I decided to hike 1.5 hours and then turn around if I didn't reach the end of the trail.
Right away the trail began a steep descent down the mountain through a series of switchbacks.

There were some spectacular views of the Verde Valley and surrounding mountains.

There were a few areas in which the trail was overgrown, and I was no longer positive that I was actually on the trail.
But then I would pick up the trail again - even if it meant climbing over fallen trees.
There were some spectacular vista views.
(Obligatory picture proving I was really there!!)
I learned something new - sunblock has an expiration date.
I learned something else - if you use sunblock that expired 2 years ago, you will get burned!!
This trail runs below the peak where hang gliders jump. On the way back, I nearly fell a couple of times because I got distracted watching the hang gliders.

I had the trail to myself nearly the entire time, except for at the very end. I was only about 100' from my starting point when I encountered a couple of riders on their horses.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Woods Canyon Lake

I just booked a trip to Borneo for later this fall, and plan to hike to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu (approx. 13,400 ft) while I am there. In preparation for that hike, I decided that I needed to get out of the Phoenix area and get some practice hiking at higher elevations. With fairly level trails at 7500 ft, Woods Canyon Lake near Payson seemed like the perfect starting place for my "training" hikes.

This is a nice hike around the lake.

Even I couldn't get too lost on the trail with the blue diamond markers on trees!