Fun Toys found at the Overland Expo

May 26th, 2016 by arewelostyet

Last weekend I found myself walking around the closing hours of the Overland Expo West at Mormon Lake Lodge near Flagstaff.

We’ve been to Mormon Lake before. This was less of an adventure. There was plenty of wind, and a stampede of vehicles had done no favors to the lakebed the event is held on, but it was really just walking around looking at cool stuff people are trying to sell.

There are a lot of other seminars and events at the Expo, but we lacked the time/money/interest in those. The event is really aimed at high income off-roaders, (or Overlanders, as they prefer) and people who would like to join that community some day. I’m a hiker who wore a shirt that I literally bought at a thrift store 10 years ago. Nonetheless, there were a few things that caught my interest. In descending order of cost:

Kayaks not included.

There were a LOT of these little trailers in various forms for sale. The one pictured is the TCTeardrop, and we (my wife and I) liked it the best of all we saw because there were two doors, and actual room for people inside, while still having the tradition pop-out kitchenish thingy in the back. Many models crowded the sleeping area with additional storage until you basically had little more than a paneled bivy to sleep in. I can think of better means to haul gear. I would buy this thing to actually sleep in.

They have all sorts of things you can buy extra and attach to it, including a three sided awning that the displayers had set up as a bathroom.

Many of the people displaying the products were actually living in them over the run of the expo, which is kinda cool and kinda creepy – like an open house with the rental tenants still living there.


We had been shopping for a good family tent, and had bought one for the camping trip that ended in our Expo visit, and almost kicked ourselves when we came across this thing. The Shiftpod is both durable, large, quick to set up, and provides unprecedented temperature control. We didn’t see it set up, but the rest we can testify to firsthand. Alas, it would have cost four times our budget anyway.

(We bought a Eureka Copper Canyon 6, and were perfectly happy with our decision until…)

Finally the item we came closest to walking out with under arm, the Solavore solar oven.

We may eventually own a solar oven. BUT the immediate problem is that while a solar oven can’t quite do everything a propane stove will do, a propane stove/oven combo, for the same money, would do everything a solar oven could do – even if you got back to camp after dark.

But they were baking cookies with it on a fairly cold day. And those cookies were tasty.

Swiss Glamping kitchen

May 13th, 2016 by arewelostyet

I felt pretty proud of myself that I have organized my camping kitchen into a couple of smallish plastic bins (one for the kitchen, and one for the actual food), but now I feel shame at my feeble efforts.

Of course, my bins didn’t cost much. I don’t know how much this Camp Champ costs, but it weighs 150 pounds and is hand-made in Switzerland, so…

Link Dump of Daring Do

October 8th, 2015 by arewelostyet

A few links I’ve run across that explore the line between fun and crazy:

Not for the weak of heart – or bladder.

This is the group campsite of the 3rd annual Highline Meeting last September in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. The Highliners are, it appears, a loose collection of high-wire athletes. Their website:

Video from here:


Backpackerverse listicles the 25 most dangerous trails in the world.

Outside online gushes over the Earthcruiser Adventure RV

And finally French hikers breaking a bridge in New Zealand with their Go-Pro going:

You’re welcome.



Taking the Inner Basin off of my bucket list

September 18th, 2015 by arewelostyet

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.

Wilson Mountain

December 12th, 2014 by arewelostyet


Wilson Mountain  and North Wilson

DATE: 10/30/10



END TIME: 5:30p




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:



Time Lapse Arizona

October 6th, 2014 by arewelostyet

With a lot of footage from in and around Sedona.




Slide Fire vs Oak Creek Canyon – an update

July 17th, 2014 by arewelostyet

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:


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:   Now you know.

Slide (sigh!) Fire Update

May 23rd, 2014 by arewelostyet

So Oak Creek Canyon north of Slide Rock State Park is essentially on fire. This includes the West Fork of Oak Creek, and the famous and popular hiking trail that follows it.

Wilson Mountain and even Sterling Pass are not within the known fire boundaries, which starts just north of Slide Rock State park, and continues north up the canyon. At this writing, though, local particulate levels are listed as “Unhealthy”, AZ89A is closed, and very likely any local parking within hiking distance will be monopolized by service vehicles.

The press release says:

The Slide Fire, reported just before 4 pm May 20, is burning in Oak Creek Canyon just north of Slide Rock State Park. Closures include Highway 89A from Sedona to Fort Tuthill in Flagstaff and Forest Road 535 off Highway 89A. Power has been shut off by APS from Slide Rock, north through the canyon.   An approximate 2 to 3-mile stretch of area from Slide Rock State Park north toward the Sterling Springs Hatchery has been evacuated, as well as the East Pocket Forest Service Lookout Tower. Evacuees are being relocated to Sinagua Middle School in Flagstaff.

Photo from the US Forest Sevice

The InciWeb site can provide updates better than I can:


West Fork was chock full of gorgeous foliage of all kinds, but also of deadwood and dry brush. It will be decades before it becomes anywhere near the kind of scenery it was five days ago.




Fire and Construction updates from Coconino NF

April 15th, 2014 by arewelostyet

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.


DATE OF DETECTION:  April 11, 2014

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

CURRENT SIZE:  175 acres


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.





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



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.


AZ Game & Fish on what’s open and what’s not

October 5th, 2013 by arewelostyet

Straight from their press release:

Hunting and fishing opportunities abound in Arizona despite federal government shutdown

Many hunters, anglers and other outdoor recreationists have been wondering how the current federal government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, will impact their upcoming outings.

Despite closures by federal land management agencies of their administrative offices and some controlled access points and facilities, there are numerous opportunities available to Arizonans for outdoor recreation.

Please keep in mind that, with regard to federal lands, official information on closures is the responsibility of the respective federal land management agencies. The Arizona Game and Fish Department is providing this unofficial update as a service to constituents based on the best information we have available at this time, and that information is subject to change.


  • Most Forest Service and BLM lands where hunting was previously allowed should still be open to hunting, as long as it is in accordance with Arizona hunting laws. Areas with controlled access points (such as developed recreational sites and campgrounds) may be closed. Be advised that federal wildlife refuges are currently closed, as are national parks under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Certain hunts begin this weekend in Arizona for turkey, quail, tree squirrels, ducks (mountain zone), and juniors-only javelina. Enjoy your hunt.


  • Great angling opportunities exist at these waters:
    • Lake Pleasant. The striper bite at this lake northwest of Phoenix is one of the state’s best right now. This is a great boating lake as well. Lake Pleasant Regional Park is under the jurisdiction of Maricopa County.
    • Lake Havasu. It’s an ideal time to visit this 19,000-acre impoundment in western Arizona that’s a haven for stripers, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. It’s very popular with boaters as well. Most of the busier launch sites remain open, and Havasu is a community that welcomes and caters to anglers. For more information, visit and see how to “Play like you mean it.”
    • Alamo Lake, a 3,500-acre impoundment northwest of Wickenburg, is particularly excellent for largemouth bass, crappie and catfish.
    • Urban Fishing Program waters in Phoenix, Tucson and Payson are excellent for fishing. Fall catfish stockings have resumed at the Phoenix and Tucson Urban Fishing Program lakes, and those lakes are being stocked again with channel catfish this week (Sept. 30-Oct. 5).
    • Community ponds in Yuma, West Wetlands Park Pond, Fortuna Pond, Redondo Pond and the Council Park Pond in Somerton also are sure-fire fishing bets.
    • In the Tucson area, Cluff Ranch, Roper Lake, Dankworth Pond and Patagonia Lake all remain open and are viable fishing options.
    • Around Cottonwood, anglers can head to the lagoons at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, as well as to the Verde River.
    • The striper bite has picked up in the Colorado River below Davis Dam, in the Big Bend area.
    • In the Prescott Area, Fain Lake, Goldwater Lake, Watson Lake and Willow Creek Reservoir are options. It is the department’s understanding that an angler can still walk into Lynx and Mingus lakes from outside the locked gates (water is off and restrooms are locked).
    • Although Forest Service boat ramps are reportedly closed at Roosevelt, Apache, Canyon, Saguaro and Bartlett lakes, walk-in access is reportedly open at those lakes and on the Lower Salt River. Also, privately operated marinas and their launch facilities on those lakes are currently open, but some may involve fees. Call ahead to confirm.
    •  Boat ramp access to most lakes on Forest Service lands on the Mogollon Rim and in the White Mountains reportedly remains open at this time, but in the event this changes, walk-in access should still be available. Developed campgrounds and associated infrastructure (restrooms, trash containers) may be closed.
    • Mogollon Rim creeks such as Tonto Creek are open, and fishing for trout in the fall can be excellent. Dispersed camping is still available on undeveloped sites.
  • Arizona state parks, such as Lyman Lake State Park near St. Johns, Fool Hollow Lake in Show Low, and Patagonia Lake near Nogales are open for camping and fishing.
  • All Arizona Game and Fish Department offices, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, wildlife areas, and other department facilities and properties will remain open during their normal business hours.

This is the most current information we have as of the time of this communication. Please use it as a GUIDE, not a definitive listing.

Also, it’s important for boaters and anglers to remember that, under Arizona law, boaters who take their boats out of waters designated as having aquatic invasive species must clean, drain and dry. This means wiping down your boat, pulling your plug and drying your watercraft and equipment for at least five days before launching your boat into a different water. For example, more boaters and anglers may be using Lake Pleasant during this period, and it’s imperative that they clean, drain and dry their boats to help prevent the spread of quagga mussels to non-infected waters. Other quagga-infected waters are Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, Lake Havasu, and all lower Colorado River waters to the international border with Mexico. These waters are listed in the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Director’s Orders located at

For more information on how federal land management agencies are dealing with the federal government shutdown, visit or

Updates will be posted at as they occur.