Getting Lost, One Last Time

I’m back in Illinois for the summer, and I’m sure I’ll have many more adventures here. Before I left my adopted home, I had to go exploring one more time.  I had never wandered far beyond the Toes, so now was as good a time as any.

And I’ll be back in Kayenta soon.  Plenty more places to explore in the great southwest.

Metallica Rock

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Who: Marshall, the dogs, and I

Where: The Toes and beyond..

Difficulty:Moderate

Time: Four hours, there and back

Now, I’ve talked about the Toes, that’s my normal hiking ground.  And when I look at it, normally this is what I see, and what I show.

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However, on this hike, I got to see a very different perspective of the dominate landscape of Kayenta.

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The backside of the Toes

As always, I’m shocked by how photogenic my home is, almost always.

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I hate climbing up the slate rock, so instead we decided to go around the base.  Much more enjoyable, as we scrambled up several sand rocks.  We would take breaks along the way.    Typically we would go for a place shaded by the trees.  The dogs would get drinks of water, and so would we.

Diesel almost caught a lizard.  Marshall had pointed it out, and Diesel launched himself at it.  For a second, the tail was underneath the paw.  Slightly panicked at what would happen, Marshall got Diesel  to let him go.  For the rest of the hike, Diesel was convinced that he would catch one.

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Once we got over the sand rocks, we reached a very different portion of the Toes.  One that has more vegetation and a few more trees.  And rocks, lots and lots of rocks.  That Marshall insists on collecting.  The joke between us is that typically during a hike, one’s pack grows lighter as they drink their water and eat their snacks.  Marshall’s grows heavier as he finds chert and other rocks he wants to make into arrowheads.

I let him go on, and I took a break.   I’m not the only one who has used the area as a place to rest.  Or enjoy our beautiful weather.  I don’t know who put the stone their, but I’m thankful to them.

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We all did something interesting.  Diesel continued to look for lizards while Bentley played spider dog.  For a dog that hates heights, she likes to run up sandstone, and run back down it again.

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Also, I fell in love with these trees, they smell like cinnamon.  Marshall told me it’s name.  I forgot it already.

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After we were done playing in the ravine, we began hiking up to the top of the rock.  Originally, I did not know it’s name.  A friend had promised that the view was spectacular.  Josh, told us the name once we were back with the rest of the civilization.  However, we could have guessed.

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Don’t they look pretty?

This slate rock was not much different than the slate rock up to the Toes.  But on we climbed.  We had fun doing it.  Getting to the top felt like a huge accomplishment.

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And we found out how Metallica rock received its name.  Most of the structure is sand stone.  Very easy to dig into.  People felt the need to carve in their accomplishments, so that everyone else knew that they had gotten there.  One man left a lengthy message, that he had travel from California, and dated it before the creation of the state of Arizona.  Families carved in their initials.  Locals, who have had practice in carving in the stone got a little more creative.  The Metallica carving is the highest carving, giving the rock it’s name.

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We left our own mark.  Just our initials, no date.  Leaving a date would mean I could never go back.  I’m going back if just for the view.

There is a lot to see in the area, and it’s absolutely beautiful.   Obviously the Toes can be seen, but also a few others as well.  You can see El Capitan, the exact central location of the Navajo Nation.  You can also see Owl Rock, way out there.  I love to see both on my drives to Monument Valley.  Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of accidents.

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Owl Rock on the left and El Cap on the right

Owl Rock on the left and El Cap on the right

There is just a slight problem.  Diesel loves climbing, he’s a little bit of a mountain goat.  He’s spent some time in California running after a pack of dogs on Marshall’s family farm.  Bentley still hates heights.  Literally, we are enjoying the view, carving our initials in, and Bentley spent the entire time freaking out.

When it was time to start climbing down, Diesel would launch himself off the rocks.  Bentley, we had to drag her off.  I would push her, and Marshall would lift her up.  Then my little, nervous dog would wrap her legs around his neck.  Then she would whine, whine, whine, as if she was saying “Daddy, I’m scared.  Take care of me please!”

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When it was time to go home, we took another way out that we’ve never tried before.  It worked, until we realized we were not very close to the bottom and had to slide down the side of some sand stone.  Bentley and Diesel had fun running up and down.  Marshall had an easy enough time sliding down, me not so much.  Marshall has some better pictures, but I haven’t gotten them yet.

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Of course we took our usual couple picture.

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At the end of the day, this is what I got from my hike.  A very tired puppy.  I love my puppy

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Butler Wash Hike

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a hike with Josh and Jamie.  In fact, the last hike I had gone on with them Sophia (the littlest hiker) was about five months from being born.

This family picture looked a little different back in August for the trip to the twin falls.

This family picture looked a little different back in August for the trip to the twin falls.

So Josh had a place he wanted to go see, we loaded up the cars with the kids and dogs.  Before you know it, we were on our way for a beautiful Sunday hike.

Butler Wash

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Location: Off of Highway 163, past Mexican Hat

Temperature: 60-70s (Never moving back to Illinois!)

Who: Josh, Jamie, Sophia (the littlest hiker), Charlie, Kate, Marshall, Diesel, Bentley, and Me

Difficulty: Down one side of a canyon and back up the other.

Time: 1-2 hours

It’s no doubt that Arizona has been left out of the winter storm vortex that the rest of the country has been enjoying, not that we are complaining.  The good weather has brought the best out of us and makes us want to get out and move.

The Crew: Myself, Marshall, Josh and Sophia, Jamie, Charlie, and Kate

The Crew: Myself, Marshall, Josh and Sophia, Jamie, Charlie, and Kate

After we parked the car, we got going, heading straight towards an old wash.  We knew of some pictographs and an old cliff dwelling.  Marshall had recently taken a course about archeology for his job, and was anxious to test his new skills.

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Diesel and Charlie rock skipping

Some of us moved faster than others… Now over all the goal was to get to the Anasazi ruins pictured a little above.  A little history of the region: In early American history, a cultural group settled the four corners region.  Their communities varied in size, but there is no doubt that the society was complex.  They farmed extensively in the area.  A huge distinction is the pueblos and the cliff dwelling they left behind. And we’re not quite sure why they were left.  Over farming, over hunting, drought, and group conflict are all possibilities.  We know that the migration was slow, but eventually final. They left their cliff dwellings and settled more of the region, their descendants became the Zuni, Hopi, Pueblo, and about ten other cultural groups. Anasazi is actually a term given to the Ancient Pueblo people by the Navajo tribe, who had moved in the area after the final migration. The term is reference to the Ancient One or Ancient Enemies.  Which is pretty much how the tribe views those who came before them.  Tradition says that you shouldn’t go to the Ancient Dwellings or Pueblos, for that’s when bad things happen.  When I have gone hiking with Navajos, many will hike with us to a point and then wait for the white people to be done poking around where we shouldn’t be. If you like the cliff dwelling, I would suggest starting at Mesa Verde.  It’s a National Park that has preserved some of what came before and the rangers are very knowledgeable about the Ancient Pueblos and the structures. Plus the dwellings at Mesa Verde are much easier to get to.  This is what we had to do to get to the Butler Wash. 1601576_976507430969_798898528_n DSC00644 Of course the four legged ones find it easier to get down then us humans. And after our little rock climbing adventure, we got to the pictographs.  Images left behind from those who had enjoyed this land before us.  Hand prints are popular, as are figures of people, sheep, and dogs.  The sad thing is that the images have used for target practice. DSC00651 DSC00654 DSC00655 We continued further down, following Josh who was figuring out how to get us closer to the cliff dwelling structure.  At the very bottom of the canyon, we found some cool surprises.

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One was some wild sage plants.  Sage is used in cooking and medicine for the tribes in the region.  My Native coworkers tell me that drinking sage tea is one of the best things you can do when you are sick.  We picked some to dry and take home.  It’s still hanging off my hiking backpack.  My coworker and friend, Marsha, was excited to see it.  I’m saving it for the next time I’m sick.

And of course, Diesel found his water.

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I had never seen a dog so happy to get wet, but in he flew to be the first and only in the water.  Bentley, who is much more reserved than Diesel and afraid of water, hung back.  I’m okay with a dog that doesn’t need to get wet on every hike we go on.

Bentley overall stayed close to the humans.  She’s only been with me for a month, and still being a puppy prefers to stay close to her mama.  It’s the stray mentality that is still in the back of her mind, I’m her source of food.  And while she likes to go on hikes, but she’s not always sure about how to climb, or rather climb down just yet.

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Bentley: “I think I might be stuck.”

Though it’s not like she doesn’t try really hard to be a big dog.

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We walked the bottom of the wash and up the other side.  Bentley got stuck, not able to jump up the smaller boulders that we had to climb both up and down.  She watched Diesel do it, she watch the humans do it.  But in the end we had to lift her up.  But it was all worth it.  The ruins were worth it.

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The handsome archeologist

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And then we did it all backwards.   Including Bentley getting stuck within the same spot.  I’m looking forward to her being a bigger dog and getting used to our hiking adventures.  We passed by the  pictographs again, and Marshall found some more evidence of the Ancient Pueblos.  A grinding stone, he’s got the official name.  I don’t.

Finally we got back to the car.  We pulled out our picnic lunches.  Fruit, nuts, and OkeeDokee popcorn.  At the end of the day, this is what I got…

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Bentley: “I’m tired, but don’t tell Diesel.”

A tired puppy!

Sedona Weekend Part 1

Last weekend, my two cousins and my grandma (Baba) came out for their annual Arizona vacation.

Last year they came out to Flagstaff, beginning our yearly tradition.  And I had a lot to live up to.  We had gone to Wupatki, Sun Set Crater, the Grand Canyon, and the downtown Flag area.  I wasn’t sure if I could plan as great of a weekend as I did last year.

Allen’s Bend

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Location: Outside of Sedona, AZ, within Oakcreek Canyon

Temperature: 70s

Who: Grace, Margaret, Baba, and myself

Difficulty: Nice and even

Time: 1-2 hours

We left Flagstaff early Saturday morning for Sedona, AZ, taking route 89.  Now our country is blessed with many beautiful drives, in the many location the vast land has to offer.  Route 89 has got to be top ten, at minimum.  It’s full of switch backs, variety of trees, canyon views, and

Though I would beware, this is not the easiest drive.  Firstly, the switch backs.  You need to take your time and not feel rushed by the others around you.  Secondly, you will lose reception at the bottom of a canyon.  Thirdly, there are parked cars along the road as people pull off and enjoy the lesser known trails of Oak Creek Canyon.

Right before 89 pulls into Sedona, we pulled off onto the Grasshopper Trails.  There are a variety of trails, but the one we were looking for was Allen’s Bend.  We chose the trail for a few reasons, the main one being the minimal elevation gain.  (Do you realize how impossible it is to find a trail with little elevation gain in Sedona, Arizona in general?)

Now, while the trail was somewhat level, the girls found plenty of places to climb.

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DSC00559 Before they came out, everyone got their first pair of hiking boots, except for me.  And Margaret (pink) and Gracie (grey) were having lots of fun breaking them in.  I was very jealous.  I’m still hiking in my gym shoes, and spend most hiking trying not to slip down the side of whatever I’m hiking.

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DSC00575And when I say they were climbing on everything, I mean everything!  My aunts and uncles are going to kill me after they see some of these photos.

That’s what’s nice about this trail. There were parts that they could enjoy climbing while the rest of us could keep our feet on the ground.

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Now the trail is varied.  We enjoyed walking through the forested areas on a level trail.

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Other parts were a little rocky.  Which made Baba a little nervous.  Not surprising though.

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And of course you there are always the views of the Red Rocks.  It’s no wonder this area was so popular to visit.

DSC00582 DSC00583And then it was back into the car, and back onto 89.  We were driving into the Sedona area, looking forward to the next adventure.

Fay Canyon

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

Temperature: Low 70s

Who: Margaret, Grace, Baba, and Me

Difficulty: Maintained trail was easy, past that it was big climb

Time: 2 hours

So after lunch in Uptown Sedona, we went for a second hike last week Saturday.  By the way, Uptown Sedona is a lot of fun to go to.  We got some delicious pizza.  Went shopping in some cool downtown shops.  Picked up some dog treats for Bentley who was left behind at her best friend Sally’s.

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The trail was nice and flat, very little elevation gain.  Thank goodness.  However, our two adventurers were a little stir fry.  I was more than looking forward to a nice calm walk.  To compromise, the adventurers went off the trail (a big trail no-no)  and went to walk along the dried river bed.

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By the way, this was the scenery almost the entire hike.

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Now the reason why we had chosen the hike was the possibility of a arch at the end of the hike. Now what I read about was that if you didn’t know you were looking for it, you might not see. And they were right, compared to Devil’s Bridge Fay Bridge was hard to see.  We never got close to it really.  You’re supposed to take a side trail, that we completely missed.

We missed it on purpose.  Silly us.

see the arch?

see the arch?

As we met other hikers, we found that they had not seen the bridge either.  We hiked until we came to this…

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Baba chose to hang back from the portion of the unmaintained trail while myself and the adventurers ran, or climbed, up the side of a butte.  We were promised Native ruins, but we enjoyed watching the view.

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We gave our Baba a bit of a heart attack, she saw how high up we were and must have resisted yelling at us to come down.  And Gracie said her one liner for the weekend: “I just realized we have to climb down this.”

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But the hike was totally worth it, look at those views.

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And then it was back down again.  No pictures of that.  A little too tricky.  Once we got our scolding it was time to go home.  Everyone was tired and looking forward to going back to the hotel and rest.

By the way, my favorite rock formation of Sedona…

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I might drink too much wine.