Knowing I have my "hike 'til I drop" GNP trip coming up and not being able
to workout except for ellipticals and treadmills, I found a couple little hikes to do. John added a bit of a climb on the last one and I'm glad he did altho it was the usual slow going for me on the way up. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Out of my two options (Flagstaff or Payson) John chose Slate Mtn and Red Mtn Trail. I decided we needed to do the mountain first as going up is always the hardest task
for me. Plus I thot we could get this out of the way so we could do some 'sploring and John could maybe do some climbing at Red Mtn
. The weather was ominous as soon as we hit north of Flagstaff. And like most hiking folks, we would just hope
the storms would miss us. We drove right past the turn off for 191 but turned around quickly. For future reference, the turn to the left from Flagstaff is a little ways after mile marker 242. The road in was full of lots of water-filled puddles but nothing unmanageable.
The description for this trail is quite accurate and it's a perfect "up we go" hike for me with gradual switchbacks before you hit the spiral on the north side and wrap yourself around to the top. There were some downed trees along the way but in this case, it was nothing to go over them. The views of the SF Peaks and Kendrick keep your attention as you get higher. There was also occasional flora like lupine and AZ thistle, and 2 prickly pear cactus with the pretty salmon blooms, penstemon, as well as a variety of bushes and trees, juniper, pine and aspen. We saw a little garter snake and the hawks were squawking as were a couple blue jays.
From the top you have great 360 views
including toward the Grand Canyon. We had a snack here but didn't stay long as the weather was tenuous at best. On the way down we were treated to growling thunder and could see lightning strikes from time to time. I captured some of the thunder on the video Part 2. We did get caught in some of the rain but not bad.... until we had to hit the road.
The dirt road didn't look that bad but once I started driving, I got that flat tire feel and then I realized, MUD. It's the kind of mud
I dreaded driving thru back on the farm. It's the sticky mud we would get on the roads between the fields. But like any kind of driving like this, you got to keep the speed up, steer into the slides and you'll be good. I kept thinking, I wish I had some metal fence posts (that's what we used to get us traction if we got hung up in a mud hole - it's kinna like those "keepers" you canyoneer folks speak of
Oh and then there were the cattle in the middle of the road. And like most cattle they just look at you not realizing they should moo
ve out of the way
. So I rolled down the window and banged on the door and whooped a bit to get them to move. Mission accomplished without delay. Silly cows
Tonto was finally glad to get back to the highway. And when we got to the Red Mtn Trailhead, I could not believe the amount of mud stuck
to Tonto. It was gooey
Tonto would drop mud all the way to Phoenix and then drop a whole bunch more in the garage. The next morning I had to stop just outside my gate to scrape off the mud that was rubbing against the tires. When I came home after work my neighbor was washing her car and she asked if I would like to hose some of the mud off. Still in my work attire, I jumped at the chance before I put Tonto in the garage.
I do like this hike but you really need to do it with another hike to justify the drive from Phoenix. Here are a couple videos:
Video One (hike to the top): http://youtu.be/syBEMhjHGyE
Video Two http://youtu.be/0UamcD4wRQg
(hike back to the TH from the top - listen for the thunder)