Monday, June 27, 2011

The Land of Rims

No.  I'm not talking about these kinds of rims.

Northern Arizona is known for its rim littered topography.  It is here where the southern extent of the great Colorado Plateau reluctantly and abruptly gives way to the low lying Mojave and Sonoran Deserts.

The Grand Canyon from Grandview Point:  Perhaps the most well known Arizona rim feature.

Further south, the Mogollon Rim (Zane Grey country) also comes to mind.

However, here are two much smaller, but just as enjoyable rim options that are often over looked and well hidden from the crowds.

The Coconino Rim runs north-south between the Grand Canyon and Mount Humphreys.  It defiantly splits the cooler ponderosa forests of the Coconino National Forest from the Painted Desert of northeastern Arizona's four corner country.  For roughly ten miles, a section of the Arizona Trail runs along the rim affording some great single track running (and biking) and views eastward towards the Little Colorado River and Cameron, AZ.

The well marked start of the Coconino Rim Trail section of the Arizona Trail.  You can use the trail and Forest Service Road 310 to make a great 14 mile loop.

A view back towards the Grand Canyon from the rim.

Typical Coconino Rim Trail single track.

Also a popular mountain biking route.
The tall and still active Grandview Fire Tower sits atop the Coconino Rim.

Looking north towards the Grand Canyon from the fire tower.  This photo was taken about half-way up.  I had had all of the high winds and vertigo I could handle.
On the Kaibab National Forest, southwest of Flagstaff, one can find the well hidden Sycamore Rim Trail.  Though not a smooth as the Coconino Rim Trail, this diverse 11-mile loop takes you to water holes, climbing areas, rim edges and mountain tops.

Sycamore Rim Trail single track.

Surprisingly this trail criss-crossed some very verdant wash bottoms.

Looking into Sycamore Canyon in its infancy.  Lots of water running today.

Sycamore Canyon, now more adult-like, from the rim as it widens, deepens and heads south.

Emily Harrison and her dog, Bee, join in for this fun run.

One of many bolting Yucca.

The first of Pomeroy Tanks, a series of perennial "ponds" that support fish and amphibian life all year round.

More of Pomeroy Tanks and their unique surrounding rock formations.

The view of Humphreys from atop KA Hill; the high point of the loop trail.

Your Moment of Zen

Looking for water in a desert-like environment?  Hire a thirsty border collie mix.  They will sniff it out!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Flag Brew

 Can one wax sentimental about a bar?  Sure!  Here's two great examples...

Norm Peterson does it in Cheers.  

Jack Torrance (um, yeah, no relation) does it in The Shining.

And here's an ode to my favorite hang-out...Flagstaff Brewery.

See the sign?  Now you know you've found the right place!

Patio sittin' at Flag Brew on a summer afternoon can not be beat!

No worries, in the winter it's warm and cozy inside.

Beer aways flows from behind the long bar that looks out onto Historic Route 66 and the old Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.

A series of paintings adorn the interior walls.  There's a Watership Down motif.  Here's the Badger.

This one's my favorite.  The "Psychedelic Hare", as I fondly refer to it, overlooked my favorite indoor table before the paintings were rotated.

The Warthog.

The Stag.

Live music four days a week!  Also the setting of the famous Party on the Patio, or as a close friend once referred to it:  "Patty on the Partio."

But most importantly, it's a place of many important gatherings.

A place where friends come together to indulge in great food, drink and conversation.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Loop in the San Francisco Peaks

Scott Bajer put out the call.  It was time to loop the Peaks for the first time this year.  Emily Harrison, Zoroaster and I answered the call.  Today we ran the 22-mile jaunt clock-wise (don't let Bajer tell you otherwise).  We started at Schultz Tank and ran the lower portion of the Weatherford Trail, which was used as a fire line during last year's Schultz Fire.  Then it was on to the Kachina Trail and into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.  After a short water stop at the Snowbowl, we proceeded up the steep, root strewn and rocky Humphrey's Trail and down the Weatherford Trail back to Schultz Tank.  We found plenty of snow and downed trees to make things plenty exciting on the top portion of Weatherford (below Fremont Saddle) as you'll see in the photos below.

Starting out on lower Weatherford.

Emily and Scott catch their breath as we briefly discuss where we truly want to go.

Classic Kachina

Kachina views to the right.

Kachina views to the left.

Kachina straight ahead.

Kachina from behind.

Z patiently waits for Scott to pass before one of Kachina's small rock scrambles.

Looking into the Inner Basin from Humphrey's Saddle.  The smoke on the horizon line is a result of the devastating Wallow Fire in eastern Arizona and, now, western New Mexico.

The quartet:  Bajer, Harrison, Torrence and Zoroaster.

Ice axe and crampons anyone?

Big snow for mid-June.

Anyone have a fence, because there are plenty of post-holes here!

What trail?

Scott thought my expletives on the snow section were entertaining...

Finally out of the snow and around the downed timber on the way back to Schultz Tank.

Your Moment of Zen

After 22 miles, let sleeping dogs lie.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Down with Mono...


North of Mammoth, CA, and south of Bridgeport, CA, on the east side of the mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains sits a lake, a lake I've driven by a number of times on California's Route 395.  This time I stopped to explore.

Mono Lake is located at 6300' and is a terminal lake, meaning it has no outlet to the ocean.  Water comes in but does not leave.  Because of this the water within the lake is very salty.  It is, however, home to brine shrimp (way too small for shish kabob's) and provides critical nesting habitat for at least 35 species of migratory water fowl who feed on the shrimp.

Mono Lake from 8,000' Conway Summit.  Darker Grass Mountain (11,123') lies between Mono Lake and the still (June) snow covered White Mountains on the horizon.  See more about White Mountain Peak here.

The Mono Basin Visitor Center (located off Route 395), a logical start to a jaunt down to Mono Lake.

A view of Mono Lake from the Visitor Center

Zoroaster takes one of the boardwalks out to a Tufa view area.

Ducks and the start of Tufa formations.  Nope, not salt, but limestone.

My Tufa formations.  See much better Tufa formations here.

Looking up from the lake to Mono Dome, a 10,600' peak that helps encapsulate the lake within it's basin.

Looking up from lakeside to the Mono Basin Visitor Center and the start of this recovery run.

Views from along one of the several dirt roads that round the lake.

Zoroaster intimidates the migratory water fowl.  

California gulls covered the shoreline this day.  Mono Lake is the gulls' second largest nesting habitat, first being Utah's Great Salt Lake. 

Miles and miles of sandy beaches and salty water.

Z, aka Snake Tracker, stalks a reptile friend.

Our friend the garter snake.

Zoroaster refreshes herself in one of the few freshwater feeders of the lake, Lee Vining Creek.  This water was cold!

Mono Lake as seen from its south side and CA Route 120.  Next time we run around the Lake...I wonder how far that is?

The stunning White Mountains of California as seen from CA Route 120.  Nevada's highest point is at the far left, Boundary Peak which sits at 13,140'.

Your Moment of Zen

Yes, it's true folks!  As of January 2011 dogs are now allowed legally at Las Vegas Strip casinos.  Here Zoroaster enjoys the comforts of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.  I really enjoyed the look on people's faces as we paraded past slot machines, lingerie shops and pool side cabanas on the way to the artificial turfed, 10' x 10' "Doggie Relief Area" at 2am.