2nd class looks a lot more like a 1st class act to me!

I was honored to help plan and lead a first ever backpacking trip for Nick, age 11, who needed to complete a 5 mile trip to earn his 2nd class rank in BoyScouts.
Nick is from Wiley,Texas and very driven to earn his Eagle Scout rank someday. He has never hiked with a pack before nor cooked a meal in the great outdoors. Though he was able to use a map and compass to gain his bearings! Well done.
This was Nicks first time in Flagstaff. As soon as he arrived, after a long 2 day drive, with his grandfather, the first thing he asked me was; ” Can we go on an adventure now?” I knew right away he was in the right place and that we were going to have a blast!
So we wasted no time and hiked around Sandy’s canyon and down to the popular climbing area called ” The Pit” . He loved all the rocks and wanted to climb them all! We got caught in a rainstorm and the rocks became slippery so we hiked back to the car for a short drive to Lake Mary. We spent the next hour getting extremely muddy and desperately seeking to catch a live crawl daddy . Which in Texas is called a decapod.

The next morning we threw on our backpacks and headed out for the Kachina Trail. I had asked what he and his grandfather,John, had packed before we left just to make sure they were completely prepared. They had everything! What I didn’t consider was to ask how much their packs weighed. Mistake number one.

Nick and John pose in front of the trailhead sign. Looking ready for the easy 5.5 downhill hike I promised them. I wanted to make sure Nick enjoyed himself and would fall in love with hiking like I have. Here comes mistake number two. The 5.5 mile hike is actually 8.1 miles. I did not account for the distance before reaching the trailhead nor the distance from the end of the trail to back to where we had parked our second car !!

Mistake number 3…. there is indeed some steep uphill sections on this trail which I didn’t remember. This is probably due to the fact last time I hiked it I just had a small daypack. Nick asked if we could take a rest break. This is when I discovered this 93 pound kid was carrying about a 25 pound backpack!! When I tried to lift Johns backpack I realized he was probably carrying over 50 pounds!!! Clutch and I tried to lighten their loads by taking water and a few other items out of their packs into ours. Nick immediately said he felt so much better so I felt better. I also gave him one of my trekking poles to help balance with the rocky up and down sections.

Mistake number 4…. I wanted this to be a leisurely hike with as many rest breaks as we wanted. Well, dark clouds rapidly covered the mountain and the rain started. No worries, we had our rain gear ! The worry came when the thunder started and we were totally exposed in a meadow. Our pace had to rapidly pick up to reach a more protected area. At this point I feared Nick would never go hiking again, nor speak to me again.

Nick was such a great sport, even though he was tired he kept going!

Finally out of danger with the storm moving away from us we finally could take a rest.

Nick cooked his first meal outdoors during this rest. Top Ramen noodles! He had just completed all his requirements to make rank of 2nd class! John, Clutch and I cheered and congratulated Nick!!

Nick is definitely a class act!!!

He definitely had a unexpected adventure this day!

And just a side note.. he had one last adventure before heading back home

He was “robbed “while on a train returning from a visit to the Grand Canyon!!

Here’s to Nick and his achievements, adventuresome spirit, card trick skills, and awesome attitude!!!


A Big Hole In The Ground

That is what my daughter so fondly calls the Grand Canyon. She might be a bit jaded, because she had to drive there several times a week for a year, while working at the Canyon medical clinic. Speaking of which, guess what is the most common reason people go to the medical clinic? Let me help you out by giving you a multiple choice option:

  1. Dehydration
  2.  Abrasions from trail hiking
  3.  The common cold
  4.  Injuries from a squirrel attack.

If you guessed #4 you are correct!! There is a reason there are signs posted everywhere that say ” Please don’t feed the squirrels” .  Too many visitors ignored this sign and have fed these creatures for years. Now these little rascals have developed an insatiable appetite for human food and will literally attack you if you dare to try to feed them something healthy. Okay, that is probably not true. But it is true that they bite and it is true that it is the number one cause of  injury seen at the Grand Canyon clinic.

Now on to the point. If you have not seen this incredible “hole in the ground” you must put it on your destination wish list. If you have visited before you need to come again and do a tour with Canyon Ministries. Every season has its own astounding beauty. There is no right or wrong time to visit the Grand Canyon! However there is a right and a wrong time to hike the Grand Canyon, in my humble opinion! I will save that for another post.

Several weeks ago my daughter, my Mom, and I took a Sunset Tour with Canyon Ministries. Our tour guide , Nate Loper, ( Follow Nate on Twitter ) was simply amazing. He does tours 5-6 days a week and says, “I never get bored” and “There is always something new to see”. His enthusiasm is contagious and his knowledge of the park was impressive.  He shared the latest scientific theory on how the Grand Canyon was formed, among other very fascinating facts. He also knew all the best places and times to take photographs in the park.  I can’t wait to another tour with him again. Maybe a 9 day river tour!

Check out this company and book something soon!  You will be so glad you did!

Canyon Ministries

Here is a glimpse of the few sites we saw  during the tour:



I will leave you with this as the last image in your head as you plan your trip to the Grand Canyon!_DSC0179

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!