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.
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 self–seeking, 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!
Its been awhile since I’ve posted, so here is a brief recap of what I have been doing.
I’ve discovered that snow-shoeing should be counted as a hiking activity. It’s a great workout and gets you from point A to B just like a trail hike. In my case, point A was a trail head just outside Vail, CO. And point B turned out to be a 4 hour snow-shoe adventure; with a full backpack, all UP hill, to a hut on Shrine Mountain. It was beautiful, and I enjoyed a few days up there with a group of 15 people! Made some new friends, and also, unfortunately, made two horrendous blisters on both my heels. I am not kidding, it literally took 2 weeks to heal. I wore flip flops for those weeks, even in the snow! Moleskin will be applied BEFORE ANY future adventures!
I made a few trips to Sedona for warmer weather hikes.
I have also been playing tennis and pickle-ball. Both new sports to me. I am really enjoying them, although its very humbling to realize how little eye/hand coordination I actually have. The workouts have been beneficial to my overall fitness… not beneficial to my ego.
And the last activity consuming many hours of my day, is painting with acrylic paints on canvas. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book, and I just recently discovered I’m not too bad of a whimsical animal painter! So, I am currently in the process of writing and illustrating a book! Yes, this has nothing to do with hiking.. unless I start painting trail scenes! Hmm, not a bad idea. Meanwhile here are a few of my creations.
Stay tuned for the status of the upcoming Colorado Trail hike!!
Sedona is a an endless scenic part of Arizona that attracts people world-wide. The picture above is from a trail called Soldier’s Pass. This trail boasts sites such as the sinkhole called Devil’s Kitchen, 7 Pools, the Tea Pot Rock, and natural rock arches. My favorite shot of the day was of Tea Pot Rock, as I unintentionally caught the “pot” whistling with “steam”.
Because of it’s awesome temps and weather, Sedona can be explored year round.
This next shot was of the super moon as seen from Lake Mary Road in Flagstaff. It was my first attempt of taking a night picture, and I might say, it wasn’t disappointing at all!
Sounds like a song, doesn’t it? But, no. It’s an absolutely gorgeous sight, set right out in the middle of Nowhere, Arizona!
I can’t honestly say that this stunningly surreal spot is officially called The End of The World; but that’s what the locals call it, so I’m sticking with it. Other than being a tad bit hazy due to the wind kicking up some dust, it was a gorgeous view and definitely clearer than the pictures depict.
After taking at least 103 photos, we headed back to the car and further on down the road; which, to our surprise, dead-ended after only about a half-mile at a gate marking the entrance to the USFS Lookout Tower.
From this point, it’s boots on the ground only, so we gladly abandoned our car and hoofed it on foot for about another 1/2 – 3/4 miles to the tower. Which I did in my flip-flops, by the way, since I completely forgot to grab my more appropriate shoes that I carefully placed near the door at home so I wouldn’t forget them. Thankfully the road was well-maintained. Though the slightly rocky, steady incline did make me wish more than once that I wasn’t quite so perpetually forgetful.
After spending about 30-40 minutes taking pictures and talking with the Forest Service Ranger, we decided to head back down so we could make our way home before sundown. This time of day is always a great time to see wildlife, and we were hoping that would be the case today. A little treat to top off an already great trip.
We were definitely not disappointed!
We actually saw much more than this. To include a herd of about 30-40 elk frolicking off the side of the road, hardly taking notice of us as we drove by. Not to mention three other large elk just like the picture above. It was more than we expected and we were thrilled!
And then it happened…
We heard it before we felt it. And when I say we, I mean my husband.
Psssssssst….. Flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. With at least 15 miles of dirt road to go. But thank God for donuts! And for my efficient husband, who had that tire changed quicker than the Dad in The Christmas Story. Less than 6 minutes, from start to finish! And we were back on the road like nothing had ever happened.
Take Historic Route 66 west from town (east from I40 E) to Woody Mountain Rd, which quickly turns to dirt and begins SR 231. This is a 23 mile stretch of dirt road that eventually dead ends at the gate to the East Pocket Knob USFS Lookout Tower. A word of caution: there will be other SR’s veering from SR 231 (as you can see from the picture on the left), so be careful to stay only on SR 231 for the entire distance. About a half-mile before the road dead ends, you will reach the holy grail; aptly named, The End of The World. You can camp here short-term, and there is even a ready-made fire pit for you to use. Dependent on current fire restrictions, of course. The road is in very good condition for the majority of the drive, with only about 5 miles of typical dirt road conditions. We drove a car and made it with no problems (except for that teeny-weeny flat) but when we do it again, we will definitely take our truck for a more comfortable ride. And thicker walled tires.