Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thanks Again NFL...

Hike time:  30 minutes to the summit!!

Weather:  90°, sun

About this hike:  Parking, while crowded on this warm fall afternoon, wasn't impossible...thank you football games.  I nabbed a spot on Echo Canyon Drive.  Today's hike proved my worthiness in an elite club:  those who can make it to the summit in 30 minutes.  This should've been an easy climb, after nearly an entire week of 5-10 mile daily hikes in Sedona.  For whatever reason, however, my legs were feeling the exhaustion today.  I have no idea why.  Regardless, I pushed on to the sparsely populated summit where my favorite area of smooth sandstone was available.  Sprawling out and catching some sun for about 20 minutes had me good to go for the hike back down.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where the Pavement Ends...

Weather:  Mid 70s, warm in the sunshine

About this hike:  I took a Jeep tour on Tuesday, which inspired me to check this trail out, as it parallels a popular Jeep route.  Trailhead is along Schnebly Hill Rd., right before the pavement turns to dirt.  The Munds Trail is a nearly four mile out-and-back.  The scenery along the way is absolutely beautiful, taking you through dry washes; past what must be an amazing, roaring waterfall after a rain; and up to Merry-Go-Round rock.  Scenery along this hike also includes phenomenal views of Snoopy Rock and other red rock formations.  The trail is a bit tricky to follow at first, but like most Sedona trails maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, wire cages full of rocks are abundantly placed as trail markers.  Along the way is a picnic area with tables and benches.  The trail basically parallels Schnebly Hill Rd. and Jeeps of every color and tour operator—red, yellow, pink (of course!)—are constantly whizzing by.  Several times the trail actually crosses the road as it winds up toward the lookout point on the Mogollon Rim.  This trail ended at Schnebly Hill Road Trail, which I didn't bother pursuing.  All in all, this is a great hike that isn't too strenous.  There's some uphill, but nothing too challenging. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Failed to Ring the Bell on Top...

Weather:  low 70s, breezy

About this hike:  Parked at the Bell Rock trailhead just off of route 179.  I followed the Bell Rock loop trail to a summit trail.  There were numerous other hikers trying to make the ascent, and I saw several already atop one of the spires of this rotund red sandstone formation.  I didn't have much success.  Not only is finding the trail to the summit tricky, it's on slick red rocks.  The trail frequently vanishes, as after a certain point it's no longer marked and isn't regularly maintained.  I reached the vortex point and sat for a while.  Can't say I felt anything that you're supposed to feel in a vortex...just insane fear considering if I fell Bell Rock would be a little redder with my blood...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mount Wilson - Sedona

Hike time:  ~2.5 hours

Weather:  ~72°, party cloudy

About this hike:  This was a great and rewarding hike that is easily accessible in Oak Creek Canyon along AZ 89A.  I started at the Encinoso picnic area.  There are two points at the summit, one called first bench and one called the second bench...I think I only reached the first bench, but it was still an intense hike.  Mount Wilson is over 7,000 feet at the summit.  Along the way vegetation began to remind me of growing up in the northeast, with a variety of pine and scrub oak and maple.  The fall colors were contrasted with an abundance of evergreen, and I was constantly reminded that this is still high desert with aloe vera plants popping up across the landscape. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Super Summit - Superstition Mtn.

Hike Time:  2+ hours to the summit

Weather:  ~80°, sunshine; cooler at the summit

About this Hike:  Began at Lost Dutchman State Park and worked our way up to the Flatiron Rim.  I never cease to be amazed by the geology of Superstition Mountain:  The hoodoos and canyons.  The veiny lava flows.  The red and white rocks, with the yellow Goldfield Mountains as a backdrop.

I've done Flatiron Rim a couple of times, but my hiking buddy, sensing there was more to be had, insisted we get to what appeared to be another summit, this with a flag on top.  We had scoured the Web previously to get more info on this climb to the top, but to no avail.  So I'll share my version of directions here and tag this post up good in the hope that it helps some other hikers someday...

Reaching Superstition Summit:  Take the trail from Lost Dutchman (begins as Siphon Draw Trail) to the Flatiron Rim. After ascending a nearly 10 foot, scary rock wall, you're basically at the top.  Follow the trail right for the Flatiron Rim.  However, if you work your way straight up, you will find the summit trail.  There are magnificent red hoodoos all around, and the trail is not the easiest to find.  Look up and see if you can spot a flag atop the piles of hoodoos.  In times past I've seen an American flag flying up there.  The best advice is to basically keep to your right...the trail, while identifiable, is not always very obvious.  There are places where you have to cautiously bushwack and carefully sidestep some nasty desert plants.  The trail itself does have white dots painted in places to mark it, but it's still pretty rugged.  You'll know you're going the right way if you hike through some little rock tunnels, caves, and other challenges.  It's only about 1/3 mile to the summit, and the views are incredible.

Super Summit!

Above the Flatiron Rim
Views to the east

Camelback is a baby mountain from Superstition

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cold FX for this Hot October Hike...

Hike time: 37 minutes to summit

Weather: 85°, sunshine.  Brown cloud pollution was disgusting over downtown today.

About this hike:  Pretty uneventful.  Crowds were horrendous.  I almost snagged a parking space but was beat out by a Crown Victoria (no, it wasn't a cop).  Ended up taking Park 'n Hike shuttle.  Mountain was crowded with frequent traffic jams.

At the summit, I had fun with the Coors FX app recently downloaded on my phone.  From a marketing standpoint, this app is ingenious:  users can personalize a brand by adding it to their own photos and videos, and convenient links for Tweeting and/or Facebooking are included (too bad it subsamples these images to death).  So yeah, it was like the Phoenix Lights of 1997 all over again...only this time an aluminum pint was seen shooting over downtown...