A Misadventure…

So we had an adventure today!

A half day for the kids means an early release for teachers.  So a group of us piled our dogs into a car and hit the road for some fun!  We had planed on a specific location, but we never did make it.

But that’s half the fun of hiking, sometimes you just don’t know where you’re going to end up.

An Attempt to Olla House

Hikers: Dave and his dog Demetrius, Jackie and her dog Lyra, and me with my dog Bentley

Temperature: 50s and 60s mostly

I think overall a favorite hike out here is to the ruins of Olla House.  It’s the remains of an Anasazi Cliff Dwelling nearby.  It’s always fun to go and explore the ancient housing, and even more fun to watch the dogs climb over the rocks.

Now to be clear, we did not make it to Olla House.  We missed the turn and started our hike a little ways, or lot of ways away from where we normally would.  It didn’t matter, as Dave put it, it was still a nice walk.

The dogs were hilarious to watch.  Demetrius is used to hikes and spent most of the evening way ahead of us.  He would run off, into any direction that caught his eye, not stopping to dig the burs out of his paws.  Bentley, the newest one to the group was shocked and pleased by this new idea  of being off the leash and took off after him.  Since she is still a baby, she came back on a semi-regular basis to make sure everything was still okay.  Lyra seemed content with running in between them and us humans.  Many times she choose one of us to follow, and we wouldn’t realize it til we almost stepped on her.

We walked along the canyons, where the slate rock met the sand.  When we paused for a water break, looked up and realized we were getting a little too close to the evening.  It was time to turn back.

Calling it a night, we stopped for a couple pictures, but overall it was time to end our little misadventure and go back to reality.

Jackie and Lyra

Jackie and Lyra

Bentley and Me

Bentley and Me

Finding a Grandma approved hike…

THIS WAS NOT IT!!!!

About a month ago, I bought Hiking Northern Arizona.  It’s a book that describes hikes in the area as well as how to find them.  My friend has a copy and we had gone on some awesome hikes because of it.  On top of that, I bought the Sedona copy as well for my grandmother.

With plans to spend the long weekend in February in Sedona, I wanted her and my two cousins to begin thinking about some hikes.  My cousin Margaret, who was bitten by the hiking bug on last year’s trip to Flagstaff, chose Devil’s Bridge.

I had the good sense to test the hike before everyone came.  Now the problem with labeling hikes as “easy” or “hard” is that everyone is different.  There are also different parts to a hike.  Some parts are easy, some are hard. This one, I felt was a little misleading.

If you are interested in buying my book, or any book from the series, here’s the Amazon link. http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Northern-Arizona-3rd-Adventures/dp/0762741422

Devil’s Bridge

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Location: Outside of Sedona, AZ. Trailhead are clearly marked.

Temperature: 60s-70s!  Loving the southwest weather!

Who: Marshall and me

Difficulty: It varied, there are easy parts and there are strenuous parts

Time: 3.5 hours

So this was the thing almost tripled the length of our hike.

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My little car is a Nissan Altima, and I absolutely could not make this dirt road drive.  I needed to drive about 2 miles up to it to get to the trailhead.  So, we stopped here, and started a little bit further back.

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We followed the Chuckwagon Trail.  And honestly, it was a very pretty hike.  We hiked through a dry canyon , with the red rocks coming up on either side of us.  The area was wooded and well shaded.  Marshall had fun beginning the year’s sunburn early while naming all of the plants, trees, and shrubs along the way.

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We passed by, and were passed by many different people.  The trail was more crowded than I’m used to.  But honestly, no surprise.  The weather was beautiful and uncommonly mild for this time of year.  It seems everyone wanted to soak in the sun while strolling around in tanks, t-shirts, and shorts. Our weather has been taunting the midwest blizzard.

As we talked to some of the other hikers, we found that many of them had thought the same thing we had, that this was going to be an easy hike.  Many people were ill prepared for the longer hike.

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It was about here that we learned we had about another two miles before we even got to the trailhead….

And about an hour later…

DSC00459So we had to take a picture to celebrate completing the first half of the hike.

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Our favorite pic from the hike.

At first the trail was extremely easy.  We were tricked once again.  The trail was nice and wide.  Nice and level.  And still nice and crowded with foot traffic.  Many of the local jeep tours take people to the beginning of the trail.  About two were there when we got there.

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And then the climb began, and didn’t really stop.  Parts of it were easy enough like this, others were not as easy, causing us to get on all fours.  Marshall, who grew up with goats managed easily enough. I, on the other hand, hailing from the flats lands, took it a little slower.  As we climbed up, the people climbing down promised us that going up was the easier part.

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Right before the second round of climbing, we stopped to take a quick picture.

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And finally we made it!  Honestly, it was worth it.

Devil’s Bridge is a natural arch.  There is no river, and most of the erosion was caused by wind and rain.  Despite looking so tiny and delicate, the arch is wide and people were walking across it, taking pictures.   Just to prove they did it.

It was fun, but not recommended if you have a natural fear of heights.

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By the way, the view was spectacular.  Sad I didn’t get more pictures of it.

 

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Now it was back down, and while it was not easy, it was not bad either.   And like many of the others we hiked down from Devil’s Bridge with, we took the dirt road back home.

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Over all, if you have the time and the energy I would do it!  The trail is well traveled, and honestly we were very rarely alone.  We were also very tired, and hungry.  However, not to sore in the morning.  I recommend a hot shower when you’re done.

An Evening Stroll

Stepping outside of school today, it hit me pretty quickly.  I needed to get out an go for a mini hike.

This week wasn’t bad, not by a long shot.  It came pretty close to perfect almost. The seventh grade team held a shoe games competition, which was pretty cool to be  apart of and see the kids interact with their culture.  My principal came by and visited my room, and left with glowing remarks on my lesson plan and a request I write a description up for the school district.  My close friends gave birth to a healthy girl, and I survived a two day baby-sitting gig with their son.  And I had rescued a little puppy.

Despite all the good, or maybe because of it, I felt a little restless.  No need to pack food or tons of water.  Just needed a friend and some dogs and no worry about time.

Laguna Off Shoot

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Location: Off shoot of Laguna Creek

Temperature: Warm until the sun went down

Who: My friend/coworker Kate, Kate’s dog Sally, and my little stray

Difficulty: Easy

Time: About an hour

So for me, the hike started on the way over to the meet up point.  My little stray has not figured out just yet how to walk on a leash and she was kind of spinning her wheels.  Around and around she goes, always making sure I was near by as the bigger dogs barked at us.  She doesn’t realize that at the moment we are attached to each other.

I've been calling her pretty girl and Shideezhí (little sister in Navajo)

I’ve been calling her pretty girl and Shideezhí (little sister in Navajo)

When we met up with Kate and her dog Sally, all of us were just ready for a quiet walk.  Whatever restlessness I was feeling at 3:30 had slowly relaxed.

Kate is relatively new to the area and we’ve not taken her out very much for hikes just yet.  On top of that, the teacher that had taught me how to hike had moved back to the east coast, Denny, and there doesn’t seem to be a replacement for him when it comes to breaking in the new teacher about the hikes.  Hopefully as the year goes on, and we do more hikes, we’ll all become more comfortable.

Kate and Ms. Sally

Kate and Ms. Sally

Hopefully we’ll be able to show her how to enjoy her new home.  Even if there is no replacement for Denny.

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We followed the natural curves of the dried creek bed.  The sides came up around us, guiding us towards its intended destination.  It’s not impossible to climb up the sides, but I truly wouldn’t want to.  There is sense of safety and timelessness in the dried river bed.  Sound and sights are blocked, and I like to imagine what that I’m seeing what the first people in the region had seen.

Of course, I know that’s not the case since, the region’s climate has changed several times.  Laguna Creek gets it’s name from a series of pictographs featuring laguna birds that the incoming Spaniards saw when they first arrived.  Which means someone had seen Laguna when it was actually a laguna.

As we walked, me imagining I’m in a pre1492 world, we came across this…

Dumping site

Dumping site

Unfortunately, a little too common in the area.  And really, any area.  We as humans need to treat our homes better than we do.  I don’t foster any fantasies of doomsday scenarios, but I do feel that at the end of the day, this is what we have.  Even if we just use it for a pleasurable hike on a Friday evening.

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About here is where we turned around.  As the sunset, we quickly made our way back home.  We didn’t make it to the water, but we’ll get there eventually.  We have time.

New friends

New friends

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Leave only foot prints.

My poor little stray is not used to walks.  She was very tired and kept giving me her little grunting whines.  As if to say, Megan, carry me.  We dropped her off in Flagstaff this Friday.  We’re hoping that she finds a new home that will allow her plenty of hikes.

 

Good luck Shideezhí!

Good luck Shideezhí!

A New Year…

Written 01-12-2014

And it’s time for some New Years Resolutions.  I have three.

1.) Keep my desk at school clean and clear of stray papers.  (Already Failed)

2.) To be more conscious of what I’m eating.  (So far so good, unless I have the opportunity to eat fry bread.  Then it’s a fail.)

3.) To take advantage of this amazing place I’m living in/travel more.

So while 1 and 2 might seem very generic, I’m really looking forward to number 3!  And what a way to start out the new years resolution!  I went with a small group and had no real plans other than to enjoy the local scenery.

The Toes

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Location: A local hiking area called the Toes

Temperature: Was in the range of the 50s.  So while the rest of the country freezes, we are enjoying an uncommonly warm winter.

Who: My friend/coworker Jackie, my boyfriend Marshall, and the dog Diesel Dan

Difficulty: Moderate to  strenuous

Time: 1.5 hours

We started off with no real intention, and we were throwing ideas around as to where we might go first.  The Toes are full of possibilities and I’ve never done the same hike twice.  There are multiple sites of pictographs and remains of native housing.  Though you can’t see it in this picture, there is a giant K tagged on the rocks that you can go to.  There are some formal ceremonial points that make you wonder if the ceremony was about bravery.  Plus some awesome look out points that give you a good view of the local scenery: Black Mesa, Skeleton Mesa, Laguna Creek, and El Capitan.

To get to the rock formation, first we had to climb in and out of an off shoot of Laguna Creek.  Since the weather has been so wonderful, most of the snow has already melted and had begun to run off to join the larger body of water.

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Diesel stands poised, ready to jump in

With Diesel, it’s not a matter of IF he will find water and get dirty, it’s WHEN he will find water and get dirty.  His vote is to always go to Laguna Creek, where he is able to splash and play in the water, and potentially get all of us wet and muddy too.

To much of his dismay, the three humans vetoed Diesel’s desire to continue getting wet and muddy.  Instead we headed towards the actual rock formation.  Before we got to it, we had to first treck over some sand dunes.  Thankfully it’s just cold enough to keep the ground frozen, and make the hiking a little easier.

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Our trail blazer

Diesel seemed unconcerned and unhampered by the sand.  He spent most of the time running ahead of us and then running back to us.

As we neared the base of the rock, we saw we were not the only ones who were enjoying the nice weather.  There are usually people who enjoy the toes.  Some just enjoy the hiking and exploring.  Some use it for their horses, and others use it as part of their exercise routine.  Many times the athletes or service men and women home on leave will run up and down that 45* face.  Which was Jackie’s plan too.

ImageImageSo up the slate rock, my least favorite part of the Toes.

ImageOur goal was to get to the very top and enjoy our lunches and take in the view.  It was a little stop and go, but eventually all three of us made it to the top.  Diesel made it to the top a couple of times.

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More than one close calls with this dog

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While the girl’s talked, the boys explored

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The views made the hike worth it.

Then it was back down the slate slightly, to come down the other side of the Toes.

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I always seem to forget what is on the other side of the actual Toes, and it seems to forget that the rest of the word exists as well.  It is dead silent.   Which is weird to think about, since 163 is not that far away.  I grew up around noise: cars, music, tv, people.  It’s nice to find a place that is silent almost all of the time.

The scenery might seem out of place too.  Being a desert, you’d expect more sand and less green.  But thanks to a heavy rainy season, we were able to enjoy some more vegetation.  There are a variety of shrubs and trees, along with different types of cactus.  I tend to get myself poked with them at least once on every trip.

And if this is here, waiting to be explored, what else is waiting for me? Over the next few hills.  I haven’t done much exploring beyond the Toes, but I’m thinking I might have to go see more as time allows me to.

Overall it was a nice hike to start off the new year.  A little old, mixed with a little new.  As Jackie put it, it’s hard to imagine that we live here.  We live in this little corner of the world that is so beautiful, it’s no stretch of the imagination why the local tribe considered it sacred.  I’m looking forward to the  next few adventures that await us!

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Timer fail

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Marshall, Myself, and Jackie