Friday, June 26, 2009

June 23-24 Prescott, AZ

We loved Prescott! SO many trails! We weren't sure if we were even going to visit Prescott or not. I called a bike shop (High Gear) and talked to a kid named Travis. He said, "You have to come to Prescott, it is one of the best places to ride in AZ! Stop by the shop, I'll show you where to ride!" Okay! Well then! To Prescott we go! I made a little navigation error and pointed us in the shortest route over a giant mountain. We went over Mingus mtn through Jerome along this narrow, winding road. Whoops. A mouse popped out of our hood (probably got too hot in there) and proceeded to hunker down on the windshield. I took his picture; we named him Mingus. Once in Prescott, we visited the bike shop and spoke with a lady, who wasn't that helpful, but did give us a pretty good over view map of the area. While we stood there looking it over, Travis came by. He showed us which trails to take, in what direction, how long it would take, gave us directions . . . the works. Speaking with people like that inspires you. He was so excited about riding and helping us. We couldn't have hoped for better advice. He also told us about a swimming hole on the way to Sedona! We hit the trail. We started with the Thumb Butte area, which was okay. Lots of trails, single track, secret single track and a very long climb up a dirt road to a picturesque overlook. It wasn't our idea of the perfect ride, but it was pretty good. In the AM, we hit the Lynx Lake trail. Travis had recommended this as a possible night ride, but we were in the area, so we hit it in the daylight. The trail was intended for an out and back and climbed steady, but not too bad, all the way out. It was twisty and narrow. I wasn't in the best mood, sorry Eric, and we ended up trying to make a loop that took us an even greater climb. Eric kept saying, "It's that next ridge, I'm sure of it." We were missing part of the loop to the edge of the map and so we really didn't know if it was going to loop. We ended up doing a hike-a-bike motorcycle trail over a mountain and finally made it back to the camper by 3pm. I am not a huge fan of those types of rides. They're frustrating and exhausting. I am a fan of super fun rides like Granite Basin. After a nice meal, we hit the best trail in the area, Granite Basin. We started from the Cayuse day use area on trail 347. The map recommended we do the loop in the opposite direction, but Travis said, "oh no, you want to go this way." We couldn't believe how fun it was, looping with whoopties. It was like a dessert garden. There were plants flowers and rocks, my goodness, it was amazing and fun. Even the climb was fun. There were big boulders to challenge you and scenic rock formations. We came to a lake that had all the noises of a jungle (birds that sounded just like monkeys). Duck families were swimming in the water grass and the sun was just above the horizon. We were only 2 miles from the car, so we weren't worried about making it back before dark. We thought we had a little more climbing ahead of us, which we did, but we didn't realize we had a mile of awesome downhill too. We got back to the RV and considered taking it again with the headlamps. We didn't. Instead, we headed into town for supplies. Juice, popsicles, crunch-n-munch, ya know, the necessities.

June 24 -- Prescott Spruce Mtn, Beaver Creek (Crack in the Rock, Bell Trail)

We enjoyed our time in Prescott. Not only are the trails pretty decent and close to town (you could ride in any direction from your house and have access to great riding), but the community was not your typical tourist town. We decided to hit the trail hard and then head to a little place just South of Sedona that you could hike 3.5 miles into a natural swimming pool. SWEET! The trail was up Spruce Mtn called the Groom Loop or something close to that. We had been spoiled the night before on the Granite Basin trails and now found the climb to be brutal. It wasn't that steep, but loose and rocky. Instead of making water-bars that you could ride over, they put in giant logs that were nearly impossible to make over without a good run at it. I just accepted the fact that I wasn't going to make it and got off to carry my bike over many of them. Eric tried harder. By the time we were 0.4 miles away from the lookout, we were both burnt out and decided to stop and eat at a non-scenic log section. This worked out fine because the lookout wasn't really a look out. It was a radio tour in the middle of some trees. The way down was much more fun (why is it always like that?). The trail was nothing special and we probably wouldn't go back there. By now, it was after lunch and we headed north towards Sedona. We filled up for $2.34/gallon! Nice one.

The hike was fun, but a little stupid. The ranger lady told us that we could stay at the campground for $15/night, but we couldn't park at the trailhead. Then we told her that we were driving to Sedona after the hike and wouldn't need to camp at the campground. This conversation continued like this for a good 15 minutes. By the end, Eric and I thought the trail started in the campground. We parked our RV and trailer out past the campground on a forest service road and started hiking around the campground, only to learn that the trailhead was at the ranger station. Out of the entire conversation with the ranger, she did not tell us what the trail was called or that it literally started 100 ft from the station. I think she was so concerned we were going to camp at the ranger station, she forgot to tell us about the trail. Anyhow, an hour later, we finally left on our hike in search of the swimming hole. Because the trail enters wilderness, we couldn't take the bikes, which was really lame since the trail was 10 feet wide and maybe a 1% grade. It was hot! By the time we hit the wilderness (3 miles in), we were out of juice. We thought that we were supposed to stay on the same trail the whole way, based on the information learned at the rangers station, and hiked .7 miles in the wrong direction. We turned back, found the correct trail, hiked an additional .5 miles in the right direction and found the swimming hole. It wasn't the cascading pools that we had imagines, but it was cool and wet. That was all I needed. There were small cliffs to jump off, which I loved, and plenty of warm rocks to hug if you got too cold. After swimming, we hiked out, making it to the RV just as the light faded into night.

June 25 -- Sedona, AZ

Yesterday, we did the tour of Sedona. We started on a fun trail called Baldwin cruised to cathedral rock where I took a major spill. I was following too close to Eric and didn't realize that we were about to start a technical downhill. I managed to spread the impact over my entire body, so very little blood lost. Good. We continued on to Little Horse, Chicken Point and Broken Arrow. By now, we were running low on water and tired of being out in the sun. I tried to be a good sport for the rest of the day, but I was getting cranky. We decided to head into town for a slurpy, but ended up at a Mexican food restaurant and loaded up on enchiladas, tacos, rice, the works. Our waiter brought a giant pitcher of ice water for us to fill our camelbaks before heading back out on the trail. From town, we hit the Airport loop followed by Old Post and some other fun trails and ended up back at the MH. We were both pretty tired and dirty. In the interest of fresh bike clothes, we decided it was time to stay at an RV park for the night. This, to us, is a luxury. In addition to a picnic table next to a few dozen other RVs, there are showers. Their showers you can stand in all night if you wanted because you don't have to worry about hot water, filling tanks or running out of fresh water. They have laundry, which you do have to pay for, but don't require sitting at a laundry mat for a couple hours. They have power, which allows us to turn on our AC and charge our phones, computer, camera batteries, bike lights, turn on the lights, use the microwave . . . the options are endless (nearly). They also have high speed internet, which for obvious reasons is nice. Sedona has one RV park and although a little expensive, was totally worth the cost.

Today, we got up at 6:30 and started going through the motions, breakfast, pick some trails, look at the map, weather . . . and then we heard thunder followed by rain. Instead of being disappointed, I was relieved. My body is so tired and sore and my neck is stiff. I took a nap after breakfast (finally made it to full-on vacation mode) and Eric continued to plan a ride despite the rain. When the clouds cleared and the sun appeared Eric left for a ride and I am sitting here enjoying the birds, the cool air and the peace and quiet. Below are our pics from yesterday's adventure. (Trying something new, so that the pictures don't end up so crazy)

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22--We've been busy

I'm pretty sure we haven't mentioned the S Fork Trail or Los Burros out of Eager/McNary. It was funny to stop into the one local bike shop in Eager and have the owner not know of a single good trail in the area. He said they were all good, from what he hears (he actually doesn't ride bikes). My advice would be skip the S Fork trail, don't miss the Los Burros trail. LB had a lot of fire road (which I am not a fan) but it also had some awesome fast single track too. We were also looking for a lost black horse and yellow lab while riding this trail. Apparently some guy lost his horse and told his dog to stay with her and then never saw either one of them again. I thought it would be pretty sweet to find a black horse out in the forest, so I packed carrot sticks, some rope and beef jerky for the dog. We didn't find them, but it was still fun to look. I wasn't sure where I was going to store the horse yet anyhow.
The next morning (Friday) we tried the Pine Knolls area, which was all fire roads + misquitos, so we left. Our next destination was Scottsdale AZ to visit my bro. We decided to drive about 100 miles in the wrong direction before looking at the map. We thought it would be funny to call Matt and tell him we we're sorry, but we missed Pheonix and were now in Mexico! We arrived in Scottsdale and headed to a BBQ where we met some of Matt's friends. After a chill night of hanging out, Eric and I stayed at the casino down the street. We never made it in the door, just crashed in the parking lot. Saturday, we got up early and tubed the Salt river. Matt did back-flips off the cliffs while we sat cringing. He thought that was pretty funny. After the float, we tried to go to the lake for some more swimming, but our America the Beautiful pass that is supposed to work at all BLM, Nat forest, etc didn't work in the Tonto Nat forest. So far, that pass is a huge rip! Everywhere we go, they find some way to charge an additional fee that ends up costing more than just paying the day fee. It's really dumb and frustrating. I think we might write an article for Adventure magazine about America the Beautiful--my ass! Anyhow, we didn't end up swimming at the lake, we biked to the pool instead. Matt cooked up an amazing BBQ spread and we chatted for several hours before heading back to the casino. In the AM, we got the oil changed in the big rig and had a delightful breakfast at Matt and Stacey's (roomie) favorite breakfast joint. Eric and I hit the road soon after and headed to Payson AZ. Eric (my brilliant husband) told me about the Highline trail. We shuttled the motorcycle and got ready to ride. We were impressed with the technical awesomeness of the first 6 miles. Fun droppy downhill and challenging rocky climbs. Then, we should have turned around and headed straight back for the motorhome. Instead, we continued with a hike-a-bike section, followed by nearly-unride-able section as the sun began to get close to the horizon. Hmmm, maybe we should turn around, these bushes are awfully sharp. Naaaaa!! Let's keep going. In the pitch dark, we put on our camping headlamps and continued on, but it got so technical, we couldn't ride anymore. Instead, we hiked our bike (sometimes losing the trail) until 11pm. We only freaked out once, when we saw eyes glowing in about 30 feet away that didn't run away when we through a rock at it. AHHH! We were relieved when we finally made the end of the trail and found the motorcycle. Yeah! Now, we had to ride 13 miles in bike shorts down the highway at 11pm! We must have looked insane. When we arrived (frozen to the core) at the motorhome, we toasted our lives with hot cocoa and hit the hay. We had locked the bikes at the picnic area where we finished the trail riding and opted to get them in the AM, which brings me to today. We woke up at first light (5ish) and drove the motorhome down, collected the bikes, and slept some more. We are enroute to Sedona AZ, where we hope to not get too hot and have better luck riding bikes in the light of day. Even though we are fully equipted to ride at night, it is pretty stupid without knowing any of the trails (and dangerous).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 15--Phil's World June 16--Gallup NM

I will just say, Phil knows what I'm talking about. The county fair was all but wrapped up for the year as Eric and I pulled into the parking lot. We camped here for the night with the intentions of a night ride, but we were both too tired. Instead, we got up early to see what Phil's World had to offer. Whoever (Phil?) put this together made creative wood signage throughout the track. My favorites were Lotsa Pasta AVE, Hang bone (which actually had a hanging bone), stinky's rib cage . . . well I had a lot of favorites and was entertained throughout. There was some really cool chutes and ladders style sections, which required very little effort and were super fun! Combining all possible loops was a little over 20 miles. Even though we were pretty tired, it was early in the day, so we continued on to Gallup (Gid-E-Up) NM. We swung through 4 corners for our tourist trap adventure of the week. Seriously, don't go there unless you feel a strong desire to hand over $3/pp and go look at a plaque on the ground with 20 other idiots and 5 minutes later leave after having taken a 40 mile detour in a motorhome that gets, say, 9 mpg. Yeah, big rip. In Gallup, we drove around in circles for awhile trying to find water. As it turns out, our navigation system had the address wrong (switched a little E for a W, big difference). We tried to find a bike shop, which was also futile because the only one closed earlier this year. We spent another $80 on groceries. I guess we eat a lot more on the road and when riding in excess. I am starting to wonder if we can afford this trip. HA!

In the AM, June 16, we hit the high desert trail system. It started out looking like a dud, but quickly got much better. There were at least 3 loops that could be taken in either direction although it looked like someone had tried to mark the preferred route on the trail. There were some really sweet rocks along the way and some animal figurines that sometimes looked a little too real. I asked Eric, "Did you see the fox?" He got off his bike and started sneaking back towards me so I asked, "you realize its not a real fox, right?" Eric laughed and said that no, he did think it was real. When we got back to the MH, we BBQed ribs in the parking lot and headed into town in search of internet. Gallup seems like it has been hit hard by the recession. For all the trails we rode near town that were clearly well maintained (in fact its already 2010 and the trails still look great), we were startled to learn there was not a functioning bike shop. Many folks were pulling out and moving to larger cities. The people at the visitors center and chamber of commerce helped us figure out a plan for the remainder of our stay in Gallup. We drove East on 40 to highway 400. We pulled off at the Quaking Aspen trailhead and rode a nearly invisible single track (Purple Haze) through a cow pasture and up around the Nat. Forest. It was enough for the day (over 30 miles!) so we went for a motorcylce ride into McGaffrey. We thought there was an extensive trail system out this direction based on what we had learned in town, but we didn't see any clear maps or trailheads. We did see a little single track coming out of the forest and a 1.25 mile trail out of a campground that convinced us to try some exploring in the morning. Happy and tired, we took showers and hit the hay!