Archive for the ‘Writing Hiking guides’ Category

Johnson Canyon Railroad Hike

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Another Behind the Hike. This hike appears in Five Star Trails: Flagstaff and Sedona. The hike itself is a fair bit west of Williams, but before you get to Ash Fork.

JCRR W tunnel

DATE: 8/29/10


START TIME: 12:45p




TH COORDINATES: N 35° 14.626 / W 112° 21.755 / 5926’



NEED TO KNOW: No water. Bit of a drive. No official trailhead.

The hardest part about the hike is finding the trailhead in the maze of marginally marked forest roads. One of the few poor reviews I’ve had of this book griped specifically how they could not find the trailhead from my directions.

This is one of the few hikes where I encountered no one on the trail. It is also the hike where I encountered a rattlesnake.

Her are my video notes, edited somewhat for your sanity.


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
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.

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.

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


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


“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:




Airport Mesa

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

“Need anything from me this weekend?”

“Nope. Can’t think of a thing…”

“GREAT! I’m going hiking.”

“No! Wait! You know, there is this one thing – or maybe six…”

So I didn’t hike Bluff Springs or anywhere else that weekend.

If you can tear yourself away this weekend, go to Estrella Mountain Regional Park. Not from my guidebook, but there will never be better weather for it.

Now, as promised, more behind-the-hike stuff from 5 Star Trails Flagstaff and Sedona


DATE: 15 April 2010


START:  1pm             END: 3:35pm

ACTUAL TIME: about 2.5 hours

ACTUAL MILES: about 4.

This was the first hike I did for the guidebook, with the old DVR and the old GPS and the old logic about how hike descriptions should go.

Most sources do this hike counter-clockwise, but I did it clockwise. So there!

Airport Mesa is properly known as Tabletop Mesa, but everyone calls it Airport Mesa for obvious reasons.

As of this writing, there is no functioning restaurant at the airport. I mention this because a few older guidebooks mention one.

The Table-Top sidetrack is totally worth it.

As mentioned in the text, you can see Red Rock High School from the trail. I spent the better part of August 2010 working there as part of my day job. You might think this make hiking around Sedona easier, but I was the only one of 4 crew guys with a car, and we were camped at the Super 8 in Cottonwood, so by the time I got those guys settled I had less than 2 hours of daylight left. It actually set me quite a bit back.

But we discovered the Red Planet Diner, and that made the guidebook.

This is the You Tube companion piece.

Tempe REI book event post-mortem

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Gave a little talk, sold a couple books, hope somebody learned something, and if not, at least there were pretty pictures.

Thanks to all those who came out.

Most of those fine folks filled out my survey (and one won a free book as a result!). On that survey, a responder can help choose my next hiking book. If you’dlike to play along at home (or wherever you read this blog) head over to the Choose My Next Book page, and enter a comment. OR comment on this post right here – since that link is easier to find.

I have updated the current totals following the Tempe REI event.

There’s no Behind-the-hike this week, but I have a holiday hike recommendation:  Cottonwood Trail #120 up by Roosevelt Lake.This was one of the better hiked from Day and Overnight Hikes – Tonto National Forest.

The Tonto NF has changed their website. Their new link to this trail is here:

Have a great Thanksgiving!

UPDATE: Spammers 100; actual commentors 0 – so I am closing comments

Book Event Post-mortem

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

In the spirit of my personal blog: What Have We Learned?

I had about 20-25 fine folks show up at my book presentation at REI last Wednesday (9-14). Thanks to all who came out. I hope you all learned at least something. I certainly did:

  • Leave a full half hour to dial in the AV – especially if you are relying upon projection (as I did).
  • Dialing in the AV is the most important part of setting up. Maybe 4 people noticed the props I had on my table. Everyone noticed how we started late trying to match the projection to the screen.
  • If you are going to read from your preface like a pretentious schmuck, you could at least rehearse it a few times so as to not stumble over your own sentences.
  • The twenty minutes of general hiking safety and know-how seemed to go better than the 30 minutes of essentially photos from the hikes. This may be because the slide-show of my vacation (not far from the literal truth) came at the end of the program.
  • The prop part, where I emptied my day-hike bag and explained what I took and why went better than I expected. From the questions, I definitely want to talk more about GPS and hiking sticks.
  • Really wish I had the logistical wherewithal to have recorded the event.

In all modesty, I did do a few things right.

  • I visited the store prior to the event, met the woman in charge, worked out the terms, and got the lay of the land.
  • The Paradise Valley REI folks were really cool to work with, and did a lot to publicize the event.
  • I had a cashbox with adequate change.
  • My kids were great helpers, and work for soda-pop! (We’ll see how long that lasts…)
  • I had my own inventory to sell. This approach makes life simplest for all parties. Not all booksellers are set up for the kind of cashier stunts needed to sell a book on consignment, or audit an inventory brought in just for the event. So, for one night, I totally screwed them by selling a product for almost 25% less than buying it off their shelf. But, I drew 25 people. And it was just one night.

Want to learn more? Book Publicity Blog has a primer on What Authors Need to Know re Book Events. Nothing in there about props.

If I seem hard on myself – well- I want to get good at this. I have two more events booked already, and that’s them calling me. I’ve yet to start hustling these events myself.

Towards that end, I’ve added a couple of pages. One repeats a survey I passed out at the event, a practice I intent to continue. The other is simply an ongoing calendar of my events.

[The event page is pending some confirmations]

Next week, we’ll get back to behind-the-hike posts.