I was invited up to Camp May for the weekend but could only swing Fri and Sat nite. All I can say about their camp is and so glad I came. Upon my arrival the Mays even helped me set up my tent. Once that was done it was time for alcohol and snacks and then an amazing spaghetti dinner with garlic bread. But not before a walk over to the little telescope set up to look in the meadow at the pronghorns. This one pronghorn had HUGE antlers. The Mays also promised me a meadow full of elk but that was not to be as I am an elk jinxer.
A little late in the evening I broke out the Fireball and we enjoyed that to give us the semblance of warmer bodies as it was a bit nippy. I don't know who at Reavis got me started on the Fireball but I have been passing along the tradition ever since . I slept pretty cold and realized about 4AM that I could use my sleeping bag liner but was too stupid to get out of the sleeping bag and retrieve it. The next morning we had a nice breakfast burrito and freshly brewed coffee. This camp has everything; it was such a treat. The Mays as I expected, were great hosts.
I wanted to do the Fisher Point hike and persuaded them and their friends to join us along with their two dogs. It was a little further away than I thot or seemed to recall from the map but we had all day to do what we wanted anyway. We made our way to the first junction with the AZT. Stephanie and Wade went up for a geocache (had to go up a pretty good hill). And then the pretty descent into Sandy's Canyon; all the time remembering you had to come back up.
We crossed the dry Walnut Creek and then headed north on the trail passing the intersection with the trail to Marshall Lake and then the intersection that takes you to Flagstaff in under 4 miles. As you walk a little further east we finally spotted the cave and not too far a sign that said Fisher Point 1.1 miles UP the hill. So up we went encountering a couple switchbacks along the way. The up wasn't too bad as it leveled off a few times until you finally reach the intersections with Arizona Trail (before the intersection at the top of the hill there is also an intersection to another trail but I can't remember the name).
We thot once at the point you would have views of the SF Peaks and such but you don't. Our mileage at the top was 4 miles. According to two trip reports the total mileage was supposed to be 6 miles (however, after re-reading the reports, Fisher Point was considered the cave below the point
) We hung up here for a bit and had a snack before making our way again. Now as you start coming down (heading north), you finely get fleeting views of the snow-topped SF Peaks. It's a nice little drainage you hike next to when you start heading south with some cool trees and rock formations and dead fallen over tree trunks.
We headed over to the cave and checked it out and then decided we wanted to go further on to see the other caves. So glad we did as walking thru this section is so cool with the rock walls and grasses. I thot you might find this interesting: from http://www.hikemasters.com/2012/12/sandys-canyon-walnut-canyon-coconino-nf.html
Prior to the building of the dam on Lake Mary to contain the waters that make up 50% of Flagstaff's water supply, Walnut Canyon actually contained a free-flowing creek that sustained the ancient Sinagua people's of the area. As you hike into the canyon, you can see evidence of this once flowing creek in rounded river rocks that have mostly since overgrown with grasses and shrubs today.
The layered rocks ahead of you are Coconino Sandstone, which represent the tilted layers of ancient sand dunes when the region was one of the world's largest deserts some 260 million years ago.
These rocks he speaks of reminded me of THE WAVE area up in northern AZ/southern UT.
Before continuing Mary Jo got her phone out to let the other folks know we'd just meet them back at camp. The internet/phone reception seems unlimited up here. Anyway, after passing a few hikers and asking them about the caves they said they had just left one. You come to the first cave pretty quickly, we checked it out and then headed down the trail for the bigger one I had read about.
Soon we were there, took off our packs and put on our headlamps to explore deeper into this very chilly and narrow cave. It has a very narrow but very tall entrance and comes to an end pretty abruptly really. We could see another passage way but it was not very tall. I decided I would get on my knees and crawl a bit to see it was worth our making the effort. I could see where the area ended but it didn't look like there was a room or anything. With Mary Jo's guidance I crawled backward out of the opening. We may have expected more but it was still pretty neat.
Mary Jo decided we needed to go check out the opening so we did. We found some inscriptions but what impressed us was the changing colors of the rock above our heads. Hopefully the pictures will convey how beautiful it was. And now that we were done playing it was time to head back so off we went at a pretty quick pace
not stopping until the always impressive lava field. There was a wonderful light wind almost the entire way.
The hill coming up out of the canyon really wasn't too bad as it had some level spots so we made pretty decent time of it I thot. As you are hiking east you get a great view of the lava rocks that you really can't see when heading out on the trail. Mary Jo and I took a side trip to get a closer look. It seems so massive. Across the way is the climber's wall but we didn't see anybody out.We stopped at Lake Mary store to get some ice, beer and bacon and a soda for me and gatorade for Wade before our drive back to camp. That evening Stephanie had prepared teriyaki skirt steak fajitas and Mary Jo had prepared a Moscow Mule in a beautiful copper mug:
Still no elk sightings just two of the three pronghorn. The elk jinx continues. I should say "live" jinx since I did see one on the drive to Pine but it was dead .
A Moscow mule is a buck or mule cocktail made with vodka, ginger beer, and lime served in a copper mug. It became popular during the vodka craze in the United States during the 1950s. The name refers to the popular perception of vodka as a Russian product.
It got cold again so we were in our tents around 9. That's a little early for me so since everyone seemed to have internet access, I grabbed my phone and checked out FB and HAZ for a bit before turning in. Tonite however, I grabbed my sleeping liner and I slept much warmer except I still have that rotisserie motion going on when one side or the other got a little chilly. Every time I turned, the one side of my mouth grinded together and that hurt. It's caused by my fractured tooth I believe.
The next morning I got up and gathered things to make my way to Pine to meet up with my AZT partners but not before sitting and enjoying coffee at Camp May. Mary Jo and Wade helped me tear down my tent and pack it away. Now how nice is that plus Mary Jo wanted to make sure I had enough food and snacks for my hike. She was even going to make me breakfast but that was way beyond the pale so I politely begged off but look forward to that the next time I come to Camp May.
Here are some videos:
Pronghorn in the meadow and the first part of the hike toward Fisher's Point via Sandy Canyon - http://youtu.be/YaE4yFjfIXc
Hike over to Fisher's Point and back down to cave - http://youtu.be/lkpUsfcVxMU
the other caves http://youtu.be/g_swU_ThW8M
PS forgot to mention that the slash piles Wendy and I had seen on the hike in Sandy's Canyon in June of 2011
looks to have been burned off this year. I took some photos of the aftermath.