Arizona Trail and Tempting Detours

I am going to finish hiking all the sections of the Arizona Trail that run through Flagstaff by the end of May and thus so completing all the trails on my Flagstaff hiking map. I will add up the mileage and number of hikes once I complete these few last sections.

The forecast is predicting 3 inches of snow between 11pm tonight and 11am tomorrow but this afternoon you’d never believe it.

Bright blue skies and a comfortable 68 degrees as I began this sectional hike. An occasional gust of chilly wind was the only clue the weather change might be coming.

This section of the AZ trail goes from Walnut Canyon to Fisher Point. Last year I hiked from Fisher Point towards Walnut Canyon ,so to complete this section I started at Walnut Canyon until I reached the intersection I had previously turned around on. I’m sure there was a much clearer way to explain that.

Anyways, the trail was rocky but relatively flat until the switchbacks started leading me down into the canyon. But first..

I saw this chewed to the bone deer leg near the side of the trail and tried not to think about whatever it was that had gnawed on it.. not to mention completely ripped it off the deers body.

As I continued hiking I saw several other various bones and all of a sudden I had this incredible desire to find all the bones of this poor deer and try to reconstruct it. Not that I thought I could bring it back to life, but more like a puzzle;fitting all the pieces together. You know, how people try to reconstruct dinosaur bones all together? Yes, I have a weird brain. But I also have a terrible sense of direction and knew if I went in search of all the bones I’d most likely get way off trail and be lost forever until someone found my bones scattered all around the woods and put me back together to try and identify me. Then I got to thinking about being gnawed on like the deer and hastily dismissed all thoughts on this matter.

There is little to no water to be found on a majority of the Arizona Trail. So this handmade ” game water” sign intrigued me. Was this truly notification of water nearby? Was this how the predator lured the deer closer? Was it a mind game? Why was it protected by a barbed wire fence? Such mystery. Upon closer inspection I saw this:

Looks like metal roofing laying on the ground. I see no water. Nor water troughs. Doesn’t appear to be constructed to collect water. The barbed wire and thoughts of the gnawed deer like kept me from further exploration.

Back on the rocky trail and onto the switchbacks led to beautiful views and glimpses of the canyons beauty which eased my mind back into a peaceful purposeful hike.

Some darker clouds made an appearance and suggested rain might be on its way. And if temperatures drop that rain could turn to snow. Oh Flagstaff , how I love your quirkiness! No April showers or May flowers for this city. Too ordinary and expected .

I finished the rest of the section I needed to and uneventfully so.

Though some sweet soul left ” trail magic” for the hardy through hikers.

I might return to this spot someday and leave trail magic. The kind of trail magic I’d like to find. The stuff you’d never carry in your backpack .

I’m thinking an ice chest full of raspberry chocolate, ice cold raspberry ale, fruity ice cream bars, raspberry lemonade-and slushees. Hmm. Can you tell what I crave when I’m on a long hike?

Until next exciting adventure,


Cure the Flu by following the Force

I was hit TWICE by the nasty flu and was barely able to stay awake much less hike.

I decided enough was enough and I needed to make progress on my hiking goal so my also sick , daughter and I headed out to do the Deer Hill Trail. It’s long but relatively flat .

This is what 2 sick girls and a pitiful tea cup chi look like during the hike.

We needed to lay on the couch the rest of the day but we decided it was worth the effort. Check that off my map.

A few days later I talked Clutch into doing the Priest Draw/Howard loop, home of world class bouldering.

The only boulder climbers we saw were just lying on a rock slab tanning. But the limestone rock does want to make you climb. So I did. Sorta. The first trail was well-marked but abruptly ended at a wooden fence with no signage. So Clutch decides to bushwhack our way through the forest until we meet up with a trail looping back. Just when I thought we were in the middle of no where , we came upon this sign .

No doubt this was a trail. But if this was Darth were we just being led to the dark side ? Okay, his head his white so maybe it’s safe. We get on this trail and soon it disappears.. but look what was waiting for us..

Bless the souls who left the Carin for us.. we continue on until a steep ravine is in front of us.. but once again..

A market told us to carry on. And we did until this next sign

Whoever made these markers, bless you! We followed them until we ended back on the loop we started.

We hiked a little over 4 miles and I was a bit whiny but only had to nap for an hour when I got home.

New Years arrived and I was going to kill this flu inside me… once and for all! I convinced my neighbors to do the 2 mile trek on Sunset to get to the Brookbank Trail which took us to the Oldham Trail then to the Rocky Ridge Trail. Oh yeah!

Proof! Of course I had to stop to hold up some boulders and force some jerky and water down myself.

What a beautiful day for such a nice long hike that allowed me to check off 3 trails on my map! I didn’t even need a nap. I was still able to breathe and my coughing was almost gone!

2018 I’m ready for a healthy hiking goal achievement! The weather has been unseasonably warm so I’m able to crank out some hikes. I only have a few sections of the Arizona Trail left, and 3 more other hikes!! I’m so close I can almost taste it! It’s gonna taste like sweet success which will indubitably lead to a new hiking map !

Adventure awaits you!

Get outside and breathe fresh air and follow Darth markers to the path of healing.

See ya soon

Catching My Breath

I have to admit, I really enjoyed reading Karen’s recent post, Snow Hiking. You know, the one about where’s she’s been and what she’s been up to these past few months? And how about her artwork? Seriously, who knew she had such talent?! Definitely not me, but I’ve totally enjoyed seeing her creations.

Just reading her post made me start thinking about my own absence from our blog and why I’ve stepped down for so long. Perhaps it’s just personal therapy, but I feel compelled to write my own account of ‘Where’s Waldo” (or is it Walda?). Maybe some will identify with me and reply with their own experiences. And maybe not. But really, the next few paragraphs are mostly for me, so sit back and enjoy the ride.

First and foremost, I haven’t been doing nothing. I’ve at least been hiking multiple times, cross-country skiing once, and an awesome day of down-hill skiing. And, with the exception of down-hill skiing, I even have a collage of pictures to prove it.

And when the snow dumped and dumped for days, with no relief in sight… we threw down our shovels, kicked it into 4WD, and headed for the middle of nowhere!

Cuz nothing beats FIRST TRACKS!


And I’ve been traveling.

A Lot.

Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, and more visits to Phoenix than I care to count. 


Then there’s that lengthy period of soul-searching, in which I found myself immersed again and again. Not because I’m trying to find myself, mind you. That would be selfseeking, not soul-searching, right? And most of the time I’d be better off to lose myself, as the overwhelming presence of me is usually what is wrong with my life. But don’t worry, I won’t get heavy on you. Suffice it to say, I’ve been reassessing my direction in life. A course-correction, you might call it. A much-needed, and on-going one, at that.

All things considered, it’s been an awesome eight months. And I’m glad to be back!

Happy Trails!

Horseshoe Bend & North Rim, Grand Canyon

Page, Arizona
Round trip: 1.5 mi
May 28, 2016

Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

If you’ve not had a chance to visit Horseshoe Bend, you are missing out! Contrary to Arizona’s typical ‘play it safe’ philosophy, the ledge that overlooks this amazing sight is entirely without guard rails or restrictions of any kind. This means that there is absolutely nothing to prevent you from inadvertently plunging 1000 feet to your death.

In fact, there is at least one documented occurrence (probably more) of this happening as recently as 2010. And once you experience the dizzying effect of standing on the precipice looking down you’ll wonder (as I do) why falling isn’t more common. In spite of this, I prefer the ‘use at your own risk’ attitude. And I love that the all too common, over-protective and view-blocking obstructions are generously absent.

Horseshoe Bend

We started out in the cool of the day, around 10am. The temperature felt pretty moderate due to the overcast sky, but at this time of year it’s typically already too hot for this hike. Fall and Spring would be ideal seasons for a visit. As you drive into the parking area the first thing you’ll notice (besides the unassuming size of it and the amount of cars that it currently holds) is that you can see nothing of what is on the other side due to a ridge that separates the lot from the main attraction. The trail immediately begins a fairly steep, but short climb up and over the ridge; taking you to the almost halfway point of the hike.

As you near the top and the view begins to open up before you, it becomes shockingly clear why this spot is one of the most visited and photographed sites in the region. On my first visit, I was so awestruck that I could barely keep myself from running down the other side all the way to the ledge. If it were not for the uneven, sandy, and rocky terrain that covers the descent of the trail I am certain I would have broken into a sprint! But the anticipation made reaching it that much sweeter.

Aside from the obligatory warning to use extreme caution, the number one thing I should remind you of on this hike is to BRING WATER. And plenty of it. This is Arizona, remember? And, as the Geico Gecko used to say, “Arizona is HOT”! A hat and sunscreen would also be a great idea, as the entire trail is exposed to the elements. In other words, no shade. Whatsoever. But don’t worry, if you need to cool down you will find a roofed ramada at the top of the hill (about halfway) where you can find a few moments of relief. Or as many moments as you like. Lastly, the hike is fairly short but is steep and sandy in places, making it difficult at times to find good footing; therefore enclosed shoes are highly recommended.

Horseshoe BendHorseshoe Bend

As for those of you who love to people watch, this is the place to be. This area is a popular stop for international visitors on their way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, so you’re likely to see or even meet people from all regions of the world. And all walks of life. You might even get lucky enough to stumble upon a few of our native residents, as we did. Particularly those of the slithering kind. Hssssss……..

Horseshoe Bend Bull Snake

Horseshoe Bend is not part of the Grand Canyon, contrary to popular belief. It is a natural bend in the Colorado River within the borders of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the same area that houses Lake Powell. Even so, the North Rim of the GC is a mere 5 miles away and can be clearly viewed and photographed from this overlook. And you don’t need a fancy or expensive camera. I took all these photos with my cell phone!

Horseshoe Bend is located just outside Page, AZ off of highway 89, between mile markers 544 & 545. The entrance is pretty unremarkable and can be easy to miss, so be sure to keep an eye on the mile markers.

Next stop: Arizona Trail, just outside the Grand Canyon!

Cliff Dwellers, AZ

This is definitely not something you would expect to see right off the side of the road. And yet, here it is.

Cliff Dwellers AZ

Cliff Dwellers AZ Cliff Dwellers AZ Cliff Dwellers AZ Cliff Dwellers AZ

training hike / Round trip: 4.5 mi
elevation gain/loss: unknown

Breathtakingly beautiful! This passage of the AZ Trail begins just outside the entrance gate to the North Rim. The parking lot is large and comes equipped with the cleanest, nicest smelling outdoor restrooms I’ve ever encountered. We followed an asphalt trail to the edge of the mountain then turned right, which led us along the Kaibab Plateau South Passage of the AZ Trail. But if you turn left at the T, you will actually be on the North Rim Passage. Either way, the views are spectacular and are definitely worth the trip!

Happy Trails!