Archive for the ‘5 Star Flagstaff/Sedona’ Category

Sterling Pass / Vultee Arch

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Originally hiked October of 2010, solo, this was a straightforward hike where nothing really failed or went wrong. I started at 10am or so, and made it back before 5pm. You will not see my car in the video because I left it at Manzanita campground, where I was camping, about a quarter mile down the road.

All of this, of course, in research for Five Star Trails: Flagstaff and Sedona.

While I wrote the hike as combined trails, but that was for convenience. If you have to make a choice, suffer the climb and take the Sterling Pass trail. Sterling pass is steep on its way up and then down from its’ namesake, but it has by far the better scenery, and is more easily accessible by vehicle, having some limited parking right on the side of 89A.

Vultee Arch trail, in contrast, follows the drainage up the canyon, which is not unpleasant, but not really five star. Plus, you have to bump all the way down Dry Creek Road which test both patience and suspensions.

The Forest Service has this to say about the trail:

The trail dead ends at a bronze plaque placed in memorium for Gerard and Sylvia Vultee who lost their lives in an aircraft crash on January 29, 1938. The actual crash site is more than a mile north and at a much higher elevation, on East Picket Mesa.

There’s a You Tube Video:

Little Bear Trail reopens

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Little Bear Trail was definitely a Five Star trail before the Schultz Fire. Now it’s at least open again.

From the Coconino National Forest:

Little Bear Trail reopens after being closed for 6 years

Flagstaff, Ariz., Oct. 20, 2016, For Immediate Release — The Flagstaff Ranger District of the Coconino National Forest is pleased to announce the re-opening of the Little Bear Trail in the Schultz Fire burn area after many donations and years of volunteer efforts.

The trail was closed in 2010, when the entire area was closed for public safety concerns after the Schultz Fire impacted the area. Following the Schultz Fire, numerous hazards along the trail such as falling trees, rolling rocks and unstable trail conditions kept the trail closed, and monsoon storms continued to severely erode and flood the trail.

“Without the amazing efforts of our Flagstaff trail volunteer community, this re-opening would not have been possible,” said Sean Murphy, Flagstaff Ranger District Trails and Wilderness Technician.  “It is a privilege to work for, and with, such a dedicated and involved community!”

The trail’s revitalization was a huge effort from multiple partners with the Forest Service. Individuals and businesses within the community stepped forward, and more than $40,000 was spent to employ American Conservation Experience (ACE) crews in the interest of seeing the trail stabilized and made safe for public enjoyment.

Flagstaff Biking Organization (FBO) and the U.S. Forest Service used grants and work days to repair treacherous rocky terrain to once again provide a safe trail for bikers, equestrians and hikers.  Not only did Flagstaff Biking Organization have three volunteer events in 2016 to work on Little Bear Trail, but they collected $10,000 in grants and funds garnered from events managed by the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona (MBAA). This allowed for additional ACE crews to help realign one of the most problematic spots on the trail. Additionally, the Flagstaff Ranger District obtained another $30,000 in grant funds to keep ACE working through the fall.

Other organizations assisted in repairs, sponsored trail events and helped provide refreshments to those working on the trail. This included the Coconino Horseman’s Alliance, Coconino Trail Riders, Cosmic Cycles, Flagstaff Bicycle Revolution and Run Flagstaff. Fratelli Pizza, Kickstand Coffee and Biff’s Bagels graciously provided refreshments.

“Some of the things that ACE has completed on the trail are, quite frankly, works of art,” said Deborah Soltesz, volunteer trail worker and Coconino National Forest webmaster. “The work involved not just major rehabilitation labor, or the moving of dirt and rock sloughed over the trail, but fixing some washed out drainages and trail rerouting by building new trail near the old one, where repairing the old eroded trail was unfeasible.”

During the last trail day sponsored by Flagstaff Biking Organization on Oct. 15, more than 45 people participated, representing all types of forest users and community volunteers.

“The trail closure is one of the little wounds left by the Schultz Fire,” said Soltesz, “and the process of reopening it has been part of the community’s healing following the [Schultz] fire’s devastation.”

Little Bear Trail climbs the Dry Lake Hills from Little Elden Trail to meet Sunset Trail in a quiet nook between the Dry Lake Hills and Mount Elden.

The trail climbs through the skeletons left behind by the Schultz Fire and patches of surviving ponderosa pine and Gambel oak. It gradually winds through Douglas-fir, limber pine, and pockets of aspen trees at the top. The trail offers outstanding views of the San Francisco Peaks, Sunset Crater, several prominent volcanic peaks, and in the distant background the Painted Desert acts as a colorful backdrop.

Many wildlife species make their home in this area including mule deer, elk, porcupine and black bear for which the trail is named. In addition, red-tailed hawks, raven and the occasional turkey vulture will dazzle you with their aerial acrobatics.

The Coconino National Forest would like to thank all of those who helped support this effort over the years it took to rehabilitate this trail.  “This was a true multi-partner effort!” said Murphy.

For images of the Oct. 15 Trail Day, please visit the Coconino National Forest Flickr site at https://goo.gl/3omDwj.

More information and a map showing the location of Little Bear Trail is located on the Coconino National Forest public website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55124.

 

 

I signed book at the Hiking Shack.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

 

Every once in awhile it’s just fun to be an author. Like when the marketing guy at Phoenix’s Hiking
Shack
takes a liking to your book, and then notices that the store sells them. Then he might essentially cold call you via Facebook (I’m sure the millennials have a specific term for this) and invite you to come sign them.

 

So I did. Today. Two copies each. Get ‘em while they last.

 

 

Old display at the Shack

These boots are not for sale.

While you’re there, check out the Grand Trunk hammocks they have – at good prices. That’s one (the air bivy shelter system) behind me in the photo. I like Eureka tents (you can see the top of a few) but I prefer to swing, and that shelter system costs less than the tents.

HikeShack book 1

The author standing proudly behind his product. The author standing proudly behind his work.

I haven’t tried the Grand Trunk, because the Emo I was gifted still swings fine under it’s Cabella tarp.

My Camp in Angel Basin

My Camp in Angel Basin. That’s the old hammock ( a Beyer) but I still use that tarp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiker’s Shack is a higher end adventure store. They don’t have much for casual family car campers. They DO have good gear fro backpacking, rafting (and other expensive forms of drowning) and climbing. Poke around – they have all manner of cool toys.

And then buy the book. It looks like this if you can’t see it from the photo above. I don’t sign all that many, so this is a slightly rare opportunity.

And I’d really like to go back and sign some more.

 

Arizona Hiking Shack

3244 E Thomas Road in Phoenix.

800 964 1673

The book I'm holding

Taking the Inner Basin off of my bucket list

Friday, September 18th, 2015

My single biggest disappointment about writing Five Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona was that I could not include the Inner Basin Trail #29. I was literally driving up there on [date] to set up camp at Lockett Meadow, and hike that trail the next morning, when I had to turn around.

They had closed AZ 89 north of Flagstaff due to the smoke from what would become the Schultz Fire.

Area affected by the 2010 Schultz Fire. The Inner Basin is under the key.

Even after that fire was finally out, Lockett Meadow had been trashed by use as a staging area for the firefighters, and was closed for a year to be rehabbed. By the time that was complete, I was already past deadline.

I finally had another chance this August.

The brief hike description below lacks the sort of detail and documentation you’d find in my book, because, to be honest, I don’t go out equipped to take those kind of note anymore.  I hike for fun now. But I will share what I remember.

I have pictures, but this site doesn’t have room for such new-fangled things as photos (which are known to be one of the biggest drivers of traffic to blogs – but I’m not the expert. Just sayin’). (The image above is a copied URL.)

You can see them on my Tumblr page though. https://www.tumblr.com/blog/lostyet

UPDATE: I can copy URL’s from my own blog….

Lockett Meadow

Inner Basin Train starts from the Lockett Meadow Campground north of Flagstaff. Lockett Meadow campsites require a fee, but trailhead parking is free.  You should know, though, that you are starting – starting – at 8900’ above sea level, and it only goes up from there.

The tall grass of Lockett Meadow grows over a shelf made by a collapsed section of the caldera wall of the San Francisco Peaks.  The SF peaks are remnants of a much taller single volcano that erupted catastrophically millions of years ago. The Coconino Plateau sits over a magma plume. That’s why the springs are sometimes hot, and the hills are covered with lava rock.

The first part is a climb through spruce and pine forest, skirting the farthest advance of the Schultz fire. Do not despair, for you soon climb past all of that, as the dirt single-track now winds and switches back through a huge stand of aspen trees.

Seriously, if you believe that you cannot possibly get enough of towering, trembling white aspens all around you, this trail will test that notion.

The trail evens out, and the aspen surrender to the spruce again, when the trail joins Waterline Road. This road, which circumnavigates the northern slopes of the Peaks,  was built and maintained for utility vehicles to service the water pumps  on the slopes, and in the basin. These facilities provide Flagstaff with much of its water. The road keeps winding up the mountain to a large pump station, where signs will explain this.

This is where most of the local hikers – who can be numerous on weekends with good weather, turn around. If this were for the book, I’d tell you this is the turn-around for the Easy version of the hike.

There is a spring at the place, water dripping out of a pipe, and another sign warns you that it is not treated in any way. This water has not, however, drained through cattle country, which is the source of the most common contaminants and parasites that make stream water perilous in these parts. So it would be reasonably safe. But it tastes just like the pipe.

From here, you can follow Waterline Road east then south (ish)and down towards Schultz pass (where the fire started). Or you can follow it around west then north(ish) over towards its junction with the Bear Jaw and Abineau trails (which I covered in the book). Or you can keep going south-ish, and definitely up towards the basin.

The road rounds steep, grass covered hills until the broad meadow of the Inner Basin opens up. Following the road through the tall grass and intermittent stands of spruce trees brings you to another water pump station. It was pumping along loud enough when I arrived that I had to shout to my son six feet away. That’s not always the case, happily.

This is the turn-around for the medium hike. You are about three miles from the campground at this point.

The road past that, further south and further up,, degenerating into rocky single-track as the forest of Christmas trees  mostly Engleman fir trees, close in around it.  It follows a steep ravine towards the edge of the Caldera, roughly beneath the shadow of Aggassiz Peak.

If you were to keep climbing (and I confess that we did not) the trail will wind and then switch back until it terminates at its intersection with the Weatherford Trail (also in my book) just below the tree-line. That’s the hard hike.

Now, because you got this far, here’s the secret hike. There is a closed road off to the side of the main trailhead. You cannot drive upon it. The gate is closed, and it’s choked by deadfall after a quarter mile in any case. But you can hike it.

The road parallels the trail, though pines and then aspen, only a little more direct, and a lot more secluded. On a Saturday afternoon, I has the road to myself to the point where I was worried about bears.

Oh yeah – the Peaks have some black bears. They are shy – which is why they’re still around to be honest – but this place was isolated enough that I could imagine encountering them. I didn’t.

After two miles or so (I wasn’t prepared to accurately mark the mileage) I heard voices. The Secret Road intersects with the Waterline trail near that same pump station with the spring.  I returned the way I came.

Inner basin trax map

My map generating skills aren’t what they used to be either.

Wilson Mountain

Friday, December 12th, 2014

BEHIND THE  HIKE

Wilson Mountain  and North Wilson

DATE: 10/30/10

COMPANIONS: Ben

START TIME: 11am

END TIME: 5:30p

ACTUAL MILES: 10.4

OFFICIAL MILES: 10.5

 

Ben and I hiked up North Wilson Trail  #123 to its juncture with  Wilson Mountain Trail #10, which we took to both look-out points up on the top of the mountain, then down Mount Wilson Trail to the Midgely Bridge Trailhead. My wife (and Ben’s mother) was kind enough to drop us off and pick us up.

Mount Wilson Trail goes up the south side of the mountain and North Wilson Trail goes up the north side of the mountain. They meet near the top, making this an easy car shuttle. I have been surprised by how often I have to back up and explain that we did not climb the mountain twice.

North to south is acceptable in the winter time. North Wilson is the steeper of the two, and I prefer to go up the steeper side and down the gentler side. In hotter months, though, North Wilson has shade, so that’s where you want to find yourself come afternoon.

As the You Tube video will painfully demonstrate, there was a lot of wind up top, and that did not help my nasal congestion at all. Also, some locals call it Mount Wilson, but its Wilson Mountain on any map.

Ben is now taller than I am.

Here are some notes and photos on the You Tube:

 http://youtu.be/ovldRYNL6Bc

 

 

Slide Fire vs Oak Creek Canyon – an update

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Now that the smoke has cleared (No, ‘m not proud of that – but what would you write?) on the Slide Fire in Oak Creek Canyon, we can begin to survey what is left. It appears that no actual structures were lost (though some by literally inches), and that some or all of the Wset Fork of Oak Creek Canyon might have been spared. The area is still closed, so we don’t really know yet, but the initial surveys seem promising. The forest service flew a plane over the area shortly after containment in late May:

http://youtu.be/MAtm8PNr-Cg

 

In related news, in my ongoing quest to circumvent the bandwidth storage restrictions on this website (which severely trunctae how many pictures I can display), I havce started a tumbler: http://lostyet.tumblr.com/   Now you know.

Fire and Construction updates from Coconino NF

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

First, a press release about the Fisher Fire.

Fisher Fire – 8:00 a.m. update

 Flagstaff, Ariz. – The Fisher Fire, reported at 3:00 p.m. on April 11th, is located near Fisher Point in Walnut Canyon approx. five miles southeast of Flagstaff in the vicinity of the Fisher Fire from last year.

The fire remains at 175 acres and is 50% contained.  Today, crews will grid and mop up as topography and fuel conditions allow.  Terrain is steep with rolling rocks and snags.  No growth was reported on the fire and all lines held.  No structures are threatened.

Today, temperatures today could reach 71 degrees with winds becoming westerly and increasing in strength with possible 45 mph gusts this afternoon; the relative humidity is forecast between 10-15%.   The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for today in effect from noon to 8:00 p.m. MST due to strong winds and a low relative humidity.

The public should remain aware of area closures around the vicinity of the fire which include some of the trail system.  Reducing the risk to firefighters and the public is our first priority in every fire management activity.

Local, state, tribal, and Federal agencies support one another with wildfire response, including engagement in collaborative planning and the decision-making processes that take into account all lands and recognize the interdependence and statutory responsibilities among jurisdictions.

SUMMARY

DATE OF DETECTION:  April 11, 2014

CAUSE:  Confirmed human-caused, specific cause undetermined; investigation ongoing.

CURRENT SIZE:  175 acres

CONTAINMENT:  50%

LOCATION:  Fisher Point area, Flagstaff

AGENCY:  USDA Forest Service

RESOURCES:  7 Hotshot Crews, 3 Type Two Crews, 2 dozers, 5 water tenders, 1 lead plane, 1 Air Attack, 1Type 1 and 1 Type 3 helicopter, 10 engines, and numerous fire personnel.

 

Respectfully,

Heather

**************************************

Heather M. Noel

Public Affairs Officer (Acting)

U.S. Forest Service, Coconino National Forest

1824 S. Thompson St., Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Office (928) 527-3490  Cell (406) 370-7370

hmnoel@fs.fed.us

**************************************

 

Some of those trails are in my guidebook (Five Star Trails: Flagstaff and Sedona). I revisited the area last summer.

Several hikes in that guide’s Sedona section originate or pass through the  Midgely Bridge Trailhead, which has been closed  for construction:

 

Sedona, AZ – The Midgley Bridge Trailhead and parking area will be temporarily closed for construction activity from Monday, April 21st – Friday, May 2nd.  A fenced enclosure will prohibit public access from 89A to the parking area in an effort to reduce risk and exposure to construction activities.  There will be no access to Wilson Canyon and Wilson Mountain Trails from Midgley Bridge.

During this closure, an accessible toilet will be installed and an accessible path will be built from the parking lot to the restroom.  As there was no toilet previously at the trailhead, this addition should assist in reducing pollutants from reaching the Oak Creek Watershed.  This work is possible through a grant received from the Oak Creek Watershed Council, administered by Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s water quality improvement grant program.

Plan accordingly during this time period if your recreation includes this area.

For more information concerning this project, please contact the Red Rock Ranger District at (928) 203-2900.

 

A toilet here would be a welcome addition.

 

Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

New thing: I have a tumblr going – Travels with Bongo – where I post photos, many from hikes.

Old thing: Another behind-the-hike from Five Star Trails in Flagstaff and Sedona.

 

WET BEAVER WILDERNESS (BELL TRAIL)

 

Hike #1

DATE: 4/26/10

COMPANIONS: Steve (an adult friend), his son, and Ben.

START TIME: 12:30p

END TIME: about 5pm

ACTUAL MILES: 8

 

Hike #2

DATE: 5/7/10

COMPANIONS: none

START: 9am

END:

ACTUAL MILES:

 

Yes, it really is called the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness. I’ll pause now so you can make the inappropriate comment my publisher would never allow me to make myself.

 

….

 

Done now? OK.

 

Easy hike to do – hard hike to write. The biggest reason was that this was hike #2 – and the first hike I knew For Certain would make the guidebook. (Airport Mesa – hike #1 chronologically – was in and out of the line-up for a while).  I had imagined that I could cover every possible spur and alternate route, and the guidebook would be Epic and Exhaustive.

 

Turns out that even if I had the time and energy to document each hike that way (and no one does), I have a word limit. It’s a guidebook – it’s not an encyclopedia.

 

But that’s why I had a second hike – to cover the Brockett and Weir spurs I didn’t get to on the main hike. The Weir spur is totally worth it – by the way.

 

The publisher was also spooked about the crossing through private property, and I had to show them the Forest Service language that explicitly authorized this. It’s cool, kids. Just stay on the trail.

 

The photo on the back cover of the book is from this hike. The boys are Ben and his friend – my friends’ son.

 

I DARE YOU!

 

upload a video of you at the Brockett trailhead, giving your most dramatic reading of Brockett’s poem. If your reading of the poem is better than mine, I’ll send you a copy of my book.

 

http://youtu.be/FTq2J3bxLUw

Brins Mesa / Soldier Pass Loop

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Been a while, I know. If I made a bunch of excuses, would that interest you? Me neither.

So here’s the behind-the-hike for the  Brins Mesa / Soldier Pass hike in the book (Five Star Hikes in Flagstaff and Sedona)

 

HIKE DATE: 5/7/2010

COMPANIONS – NONE

START: 1:30P

END: 6:30P

8.4 MI TOTAL – 5hrs and 5miles by GPS

One of the first hikes I did for the book, and one of the best in terms of both the quality of the experience and lack of disaster. All of the recording gear worked and I finished in daylight with a swallow of water left.

All of the well documented vortex sites in Sedona are conveniently located within a short walk from a parking lot. My efforts to find any additional documentation on the “vortex” around the slick rock on the side trail to the arch caves came to naught. I have no sense for these things.  The published material is all about the parking lot sites. If you want anything deeper, you’ll have to pay a guide – which was well outside my margins, and a crap-shoot in any case.

The arch caves are cool, but they are no more than a few feet deep.  You won’t need a flashlight.

You Tube notes are here:

Five Star Trails on ViewRanger

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

There’s an app for my hiking guide. I can say that now with a completely straight face – not just because I live in the future, but because there really is an app for my hiking guide.

From the press release:

ViewRanger ™App partners with Menasha Ridge/Wilderness Press

Cambridge, UK – December 15, 2011 – ViewRanger, the award-winning outdoor navigation app, is

pleased to announce its partnership with Menasha Ridge/Wilderness Press, a leading publisher of

comprehensive outdoor hiking books and maps.

ViewRanger, which hails from the UK and is owned by software development company, Augmentra,

Ltd., is a mobile app that turns a smartphone into a powerful Outdoors GPS. It delivers high resolution

mapping and trails, waypoint navigation, web-based route planning and location sharing.

“We are looking forward to working with an independent enterprise that offers the same benefits to

readers as our company; memorable adventures in the great outdoors ,” says Menasha

Ridge/Wilderness Press president Richard Hunt. “ViewRanger has done a brilliant job of executing their

business plan overseas and we look forward to teaming up with them as they make their debut in the

US.”

Commenting on the partnership, ViewRanger CEO Craig Wareham states “we are excited to be working

with such renowned publishing titles as Menasha Ridge and Wilderness Press and for the opportunity to

deliver their high quality expert guidebook content through our location-aware smartphone publishing platform.”

ViewRanger will bring their guidebooks to life by accessing the expert outdoors content provided by

Menasha Ridge/Wilderness Press. Popular trail routes will be available to browse and download onto

smartphones and delivered like a guidebook with a map, trail descriptions and advice, and photos of

things that users may see along the way. Once users are on a hike or walk, they can see their location

over a map and navigate along the route. ViewRanger also gives navigation alerts if you veer too far off

course.

“My Five Star Trails in Flagstaff and Sedona guidebook will be in the first release!” Squealed Menasha Ridge author Tony Padegimas, contacted by courier pigeon in his isolated desert stronghold. “If this prevents one hiker with a fully-charged phone from getting ost in the woods, my life’s work will have been worth it,” he added.

 

At least one of those paragraphs was not in the original press release.

View Ranger website: http://www.viewranger.com/en-us