Posts Tagged ‘GAFDE’

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.

The Hikes from Washington Park

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

There have been a few fires since I last visited here, including the nearby Wagon Wheel fire – so I cannot guarantee how much of the specific topography is still accurate.

I started two separate hikes from the Washington Park trailhead, smack in the middle of the Mogollon Rim: the Col. Devlin/RR Tunnel trail and then the Highline Trail west to Camp Geronimo.

Stats given below reflect both hikes combined.

DATE: 5/30/08

COMPANIONS: None

START TIME: 11:40 am

END TIME: 7:25 pm

TOTAL ACTUAL MILES: 13.2

My mother helped me set up the car shuttle for this, which was a blessing and a curse. My mother is not a morning person, so an early start was never a possibility.

There a part in the intro of the book where I talk about her dropping me off at a trailhead: this hike.

Ben had been invited to go, but was pouting for some reason, and missed out on one of the cooler trails – at least from an 11 year old perspective. So let that be a lesson for the young readers.

Col Devlin was one of the shorter hikes in the book, but contained a serious grade. I still got lost. The note at the end about not following the goat-trails around the ledge: GAFDE.

One of my sources for the history of the Railroad Tunnel:  http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/MountainRecreation/NaturalLandmarks/MogollonRim/tabid/232/Default.aspx

And the Sharlot Hall museum provided good source material on Col. Devin.

I personally believe that the Highline Trail, as a multi-day through hike is over-rated. You beat up your knees for not much variation in scenery. The Highline was built for horses. You’re better off on top of the Rim on the General Crook trail.

I was very grateful for the one flowing stream in the middle of the hike.

There was a lot of fire damage when I hiked through,and now there is even more. Better views. Less shade. How long until the whole Rim is naked?

Followed the last of the switchbacks in the last of the daylight, but didn’t need to pull y flashlight out of the bag.

Don’t try both of these on the same day unless you’re very hardcore (or behind deadline).

Verde River Trail

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

[Part of our ongoing series of Behind-the-Hike for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

Coming out of the Verde Valley was the closest I came to being in serious trouble in all my guidebook hikes. You know that “example” last post about fltering water from a catrtle pond in a desperate attempt t stave off heat exhaustion? This hike. But we’ll start at the beginning.

Verde Trail #11

“Northern seven-mile section climbs away from the river, and is easy to
travel.”  – USFS

Well, as we shall see, that all depends…

HIKE START: 17 June 2008; 11:40am

HIKE END: 18 June 2008; 5:20pm

COMPANIONS: None

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 26+

This was the last hike of my 10-day run to finish the guidebook, and the next-to-last hike I actually did. With deadline looming, I took my vacation week and plotted out a course that would net me 8 hikes in 10 days – and it almost worked! Most of those hikes are in the central mountains or the Mogollon Rim.

So I woke up that morning in my hammock at the Pine TH, did some laundry at a trailer park in Pine, ate breakfast at the hotel in Strawberry, and rolled on down Fossil Springs Road.

I prodded my poor Buick down 5 miles of FR 194 until I finally ran out of nerve and parked it at the intersection with FR 540, and humped the remaining distance to Twin Buttes TH. I wisely left a couple of gallons of water in my car.

Typical trail conditions on Cedar Bench

Typical trail conditions on Cedar Bench

I love – love – juniper scrub country, but after 7 miles of it, I was actually kinda glad to start seeing chaparral.

My notes declare – in hindsight – that I should have stayed on the dirt path and gone down to the Verde. I did, in fact, take the trace route down to Fossil Creek, where I slapped together a bit of camp, and discovered that one of my wading shoes had fallen from my pack. Undetered, I spent the last hour of remaining daylight splashing about barefoot in the creek, ignoring the voice in my head that warned a foot injury down here becomes a survival scenario.

Coming down towards the Verde River

Coming down towards the Verde River

Finishing my DVR notes, I discovered that machie’s memory was blank. Every DVR note from the past seven hikes had been somehow obliterated! So I spent a few hours that night shooing bugs out of my headlamp as I desperately tried to write down in my pocket notebook every detail I could remember about the previous seven hikes.

I confirmed a principle I had long suspected the truth of: If you can’t remember it without notes, it probably won’t make it under word count anyway.

Also: Transcribe your DVR notes at the first opportunity! Like in the car after the hike.

Also: Don’t take your DVR into the drugstore. I suspect the anti-theft system will wipe out memories. Even in Pine.

I hauled a sleeping bag down for nothing. (In my defense, I had needed it every other night for the past nine days). It didn’t get down below room temperature until well after midnight.

I wasted the cool hours of the following morning in a brutal bushwhack trying to find a route along the shore (or, as it turned out, over a butte, and then over a rocky cliff) to the Verde River trail proper. I foolishly thought such a dircet route would be less annoying than the field of burrs I had originally descended through.

If you ever feel the urge to scramble over boulders in a 40 lb pack – resist it. Stay on the damn trail. GAFDE.

I found the trail, then the Verde River, and spent a good hour flopped out in a little swimming hole there until I knew I had to get going.

[Here is where I’d insert photos of both the banks of Fossil Creek and the bank of the Verde so you could compare and contrast, but I’m out of space again. I do however, have an album on Facebook with more photos.]

On my way back up, I flirted with heat exhaustion.  was too hot to eat more than half an energy bar all the way up, but, as we alluded too, I was thirsty enough to drink almost anything.

Bull Tank is the name of where I spent some time filtering green slime through a handkerchief into a Nalgene bottle. Happily, Auqumira kills everything! That was a long wait to drink chemically-shocked slime, but I was glad to have it.

I was even happier making it back to the car, where the means to make a gallon of warm Gatorade awaited.

The original plan was to camp at that very spot, and finish the run with Fossil Springs the next day, but I was done – and so were my boots.

Other notes:

* The banks of the Verde are known habitat for Southwest Bald Eagles, and officially closed to traffic from December through June. However, I have been told by Ken Jacobsen, who manages the nest-watching program, that the Verde Trail receives so little traffic that hikers are not a concern to the nest-watchers.  Still, if you see a nest, camp somewhere else.

* The Forest Service publishes a Guide to the Verde – mostly for boaters, but with some useful info for every user – and free. The part I described is around River Mile 20. The Verde River below this portion is called the Graveyard of Canoes by local boaters. Just so ya know.

* Your morning temperature at Twin Buttes TH is likely to be your overnight low down by the river.

*Don’t do this hike in June.

* You can fish on the Verde (with an AZ license) but you cannot fish on Fossil Creek.

* I found my other wading shoe on my way back up.

* I will, someday, do the whole Verde Trail – despite my travails on this first attempt. North – south – I got that much right, anyway.

Vineyard Trail

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

[Part of the ongoing Behind-The-Hike series for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest.]

This lovely hike heads up from Roosevelt Lake towards Four Peaks, and is part of the Arizona Trail which runs through the state from Utah to Mexico.

DATE HIKED: 1 April 2008

COMPANIONS: None.

START TIME: 12:45pm

END TIME: 6:50pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 11.3

This was one of those rare combinations of a reasonable start time, good weather, a scenic trail and a working camera. Thus, I have some pictures, but precious little space. So I’ll put a few here, and you can go to my personal site HERE to see the rest.

The above is one of my favorite photos from the guidebook days.

You can read all about the Salt River Project Dams, inclding Roosevelt Dam from their website history here.

The O’rourke camp was named after the the John O’Rourke firm of Galveston, Texas, who one the contract labor bid.

“In 1910, O’Rourke’s Camp consisted of 42 percent white Americans, 15 percent Spanish emigrants, 11 percent black Americans, three percent Mexican nationals and two percent Chinese. No American Indians or Mexican-Americans lived in the contractor’s camp. O’Rourke hoped to attract 300 to 500 workers to Roosevelt, but the most contract workers employed at one time was a little over 200. Common laborers of all types were paid $2 a day; drillers, $2.75; carpenters, $3.50 to $5, and sub-foremen, $3.50. The government deducted 75 cents per day for meals.”

The photo on the left is the heiograph tower.

The photo on the right is pollen on my boots.

Don’t bother picking your way through the rocks and cactus to get to the corrugated shed in the old vineyard. There’s no opening in it. GAFDE. You can see everything there is to see from the trail.

I did actually go down to Buckhorn Springs, put my feet in the water, and had a nice meal.

Last November I returned back up this trail researching an article I wrote on the Southwest Bald Eagle for Inside/Outsde Magazine. I didn’t actually see any eagles on the trip (it was still a bit hot to see them in late afternoon, I can confirm this is a legitmate habitat for this distinct species of raptor.

Trail #8 – a cautionary tale

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

[Part of the ongoing Behind The Hike series for Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest]

Trail #8 taught me a lot of lessons – all the hard way.

My first attempt was with Ben, and we hardly got there:

HIKE #1:

DATE: 1/19/08

COMPANIONS: Ben

ACTUAL MILES: Unknown (we got so lost, I stopped taking such notes)

TIME: Unknown (about 5 hours)

We got a late start, and underestimated the drive time. I further assumed I could drive to the trailhead – which is not the case in a Buick sedan.

In the guidebook, I advise NOT taking the  little side road on the far side of the first hill. GAFDE.

That road, we learned, leads to a little horse coral. Past that corall, still on dirt road, we climbed a fairly steep hill, ate some lunch, and wondered why we hand’t found a trail. Pulling out my topo map, I figured out that we were still a good mile south of it.

Later, we tried to bushwhack bach to FR602. Don’t do this. The road is the only place you are safe from catclaws. You won’t save any time (or skin) going cross country here.

We finally found the trailhead, and pushed on up the hill to the saddle.

So I had the hike all along.

But there was more trail. So I went back…

HIKE #2

DATE: 4 April 2008

COMPANIONS: Carolyn and Jayson (though Jayson only drove).

ACTUAL MILES: 5.8

TIMES: Unknown

This was at the tail-end of a 4WD drive expedition. Jayson doesn’t hike recreationally and stayed with the vehicle, playing with his kite and HAM radio.

Carolyn, as you may remember from Fish Rock Pass, doesn’t mind getting lost.

We actually pushed quite a distance past the saddle, but I wouldn’t recommend venturing into that valley unless you’re trying to evade law enforcement. What follows is beyond what I chronicled in the guidebook, straight from my notes:

Past the saddle, the trail goes down into the juniper/prickly-pear/catclaw wilderness that defines this elevation. The trail is rocky and a little washed out, but the grade is gentle.

About a quarter mile past the saddle, the trail cuts in and out of the drainages, and can be difficult to locate. Catclaw has overgrown the path in some places – foreshadowing – as you pass through a haunted forest of skeletal trees.

The catclaw grows in some places in jungle-like profusion, and often at eye level. It is particularly troublesome in drainages.

Trail stays north of the wash for the duration. If you cross the wash (as we did a couple of times) you are no longer on the trail. If the catclaw gets too much for you, you can follow the riverbed and make similar rate of progress. While the catclaws will rip relentlessly at all exposed clothes and flesh, a bushwhack through the rock-choked creek-bed will abuse your feet and knees. Pick your pain.

Catclaw provides an important habitat for various species of vermin, but is nothing but a painful obstructive nuisance to large vertebrates such as human beings.

There’s water in the creek bed intermittently past Indian Springs.

We stopped at a cabin-sized boulder, past our turn-around time. Neither of us wanted any part of the catclaw jungle in the dark, so we turned around.

The few pleasant stretches of this trail do not make up for the catclaw. Had the deadline logistics worked out differetly, I might have left this hike out altogether, except the hike as far as the saddle really is kinda cool.

As I panted into my DVR:

“If I come back, I’m bringing a machete.”

Picketpost Mountain

Monday, March 16th, 2009

[Part of a series of beyond the page info of the hikes covered in Day and Overnight Hikes in the Tonto National Forest.]

This hike shares the same trailhead as the Alamo Canyon hike, but I put the two hikes in different sections because of the very different altitudes. Briefly, you can hike Picketpost in late spring or early fall – but you would roast in Alamo Canyon.

HIKE DATE: 21 Feb 2008

COMPANIONS: None.

START TIME: 12:20pm

END TIME: 5:15 pm

ACTUAL MILEAGE: 4.45 miles

I wrote the description for non-climbers – meaning those who do not own harnesses and practice obscure European mountaineering knots of their coffee breaks. If you are such a climber, you may find my level of caution kinda cute.

I was, however, happy to have a collapsible hiking stick, because I had no spare hand for it going up the slope proper.My advice about using your butt as a brake on the way down: GAFDE.

Now to keep a longstanding pronise to myself: If you can tell me what I wrote in the logbook in the mailbox on top of the mountain, I will – at my expense – send you a free copy of the book. Get climbing!