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24 triplogs

Sep 30 2019
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Inspiration Point via WindgatePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 30 2019
roaminghiker
Hiking10.59 Miles 2,353 AEG
Hiking10.59 Miles   5 Hrs   11 Mns   2.09 mph
2,353 ft AEG      7 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The McDowell park complex northeast of Phoenix, from my visit, offers an invigorating, pleasant array of hikes and trails. For this morning, I started at the dirt parking lot off 104th Street, and used Bell and Wingate Pass Trails for a ten mile loop.

These trails ascend and descend gradually, never terribly taxing, though a good bit rock and pebble laced underfoot. The park resides in the high desert, so a constant cover of vegetation spreads throughout, but rarely dense. Saguaro cactus stand tall, in all directions, but fairly spread out. A low grass fills in between the taller shrubs and cactus plants.

My somewhat observant eye noticed that the steeper slopes in McDowell support only a sparser density of vegetation. I am not well traveled, but have observed the vegetation in the Grand Canyon and in Sedona. Those two locations feature mainly sandstone and limestone rock, and my sense is that vegetation, including stout desert pines, can latch into niches in steep slopes in those locations. The harder granite rock on the steep slopes along my hike in McDowell did not seem to allow that as much.

Shade covered the trail very intermittently, and the Phoenix sun beat down on the day of my hike with few blocking clouds. But the temperatures were noticeably below normal, and a cooling breeze did kick up.
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Sep 28 2019
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
David MillerSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 28 2019
roaminghiker
Hiking15.23 Miles 2,159 AEG
Hiking15.23 Miles   9 Hrs   32 Mns   1.66 mph
2,159 ft AEG      20 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Dave Miller Loop

The saddle on Sedona’s David Miller trail has enticed me ever since I started hiking in Sedona area. I was attracted to the saddle’s remoteness (relative) and its promise of wide views down Secret Canyon.

Issue? The relative remoteness. Parking access for David Miller sits four miles up a four wheel drive road. Not that far. But I lacked a high clearance vehicle. Rent a four wheeler? Get a ride? But then the obvious - just hike the whole way.

So, this route starts at the Long Canyon trailhead, a parking spot workable due to its presence on a paved road, and a parking spot with reasonable connections up to the Dave Miller. With that parking as the start point, the route here runs in succession through Chuckwagon, FSR 152, Dry Creek Trail, Bear Sign Trail, David Miller, then back via Secret Canyon Trail, (with a side trip on HS Canyon), FSR 152 and Chuckwagon.

On the day of the hike, I started a bit before sunrise, using headlamps, navigating Chuck Wagon in the dark but with minimal difficulty. When I joined up to FRS 152, dawn broke. No sun. But still a remarkable scene. For the morning revealed a cloudy mist which wafted delicately over the top of the white and red peaks poking above the dense desert pine forest.

That density was the case all along. The forest grew very thick throughout most of the hike. A look at a satellite image reveals the (likely) reason – this loop travels almost entirely in canyon valleys and/or alongside meandering washes.

As I progressed toward the saddle, the trail ran soft underfoot, with a gradual rise as I hiked up FSR 152 to and through Dry Creek trail, Bear Sign to Dave Miller. While these trails sit some distance off the beaten path (on this leg up to David Miller I saw no other hikers), the trails run distinctly and with few undergrowth encroachments and essentially no obstructions (exception – HS Canyon).

One small navigation note. Dry Creek, Bear Sign and David Miller do descend into washes, and do not necessary rise directly on the other side. A tiny bit of discernment comes into play to pick up the trail continuations.

Now, as mentioned, for most the trail, including the route to the saddle, I hiked among dense forest. The red and white Sedona rock became visible only as it poked up above the forest, or became observable in the open washes. So the trek to the saddle featured mainly the soft serenity of an enclosing ample forest.

That changed when I rose up over the saddle. A breathtaking scene exploded out in front of me. The rock formations of Secret Canyon flew into view, expanding out in all directions, up and down, front and back, as wide as I could stretch my arms. And the expansive view telescoped out into the far distance, revealing Capital Butte and the sister rock formation with Coffee Pot. And the rolling clouds remained above, their shifting profile casting an undulating pattern of light and dark across the scene.

The promise of such views had enticed me. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I sat for a while, absorbing the scene and spectacle, interspersing my observation with occasional taking of some photographs. Time came to move on, to descend, a descent which offered changing views, and in contrast to the trails to that point, a fairly steep, open, rocky trail. But again a trail distinct, unobstructed, and traversed with minimal difficulty.

The forest density returned at the bottom of the descent, after which David Miller hit a junction with Secret Canyon trail. A bit further, Secret Canyon dropped into a wash, of no particular note.

Except one. HS Canyon should intersect Secret Canyon at or near the wash. But – HS Canyon is not an officially listed trail at this far end connection. Some maps may shows it, but not the maps the Ranger Stations sanction or trailhead signs display.

So even with a good 20 minutes of searching, I did not locate the intersection. I decided on Plan B; go to the other intersection of HS Canyon and Secret Canyon, a bit south on Secret Canyon trail, and hike back up to this intersection.

This reroute would take some time, so I cut out most observing and photographing, and just trekked quickly down Secret Canyon. My GPS got me to within a dozen or meters of the other intersection, and with a bit of search I found an old iron trail sign for HS Canyon.

All went well for a good bit along HS Canyon, with high peaks towering above the forest. The underbrush had encroached, a bit, at places, but no issue following the trail. Then HS Canyon just suddenly dove into a wash, and vanished, at about the point where the Ranger maps show the trail ending. Another 20 minutes of searching and bushwhacking followed, but I found no continuation.

I don’t like to be defeated (likely the case for most), but I judged another 20 minutes would get me no closer to finding the trail loop back around to the northern intersection, as loop likely might be heavily or completely overgrown.

I shrugged, and remembered that all information has value, and logged the experience. I hiked back down HS Canyon to Secret Canyon, now observing and photographing not so much the rocks and peaks, but the flowers and trees and even an ant hill. Then on back to the car.

All in, great hike, with good views, nice photography, and relatively (let’s say modestly) remote.

And the good information – cross-check a bit more thoroughly. Such a cross-check would have revealed before I hiked that the Ranger maps didn’t show a complete loop. I would then have studied the GPS tracks of those who had made the loop, studied those much more closely for clues as to the HS Canyon complete loop. I would have then either felt more comfortable the trail had grown obscured, or better yet, found the trail.
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Sep 23 2019
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Camelback Summit - Cholla THPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 23 2019
roaminghiker
Hiking5.78 Miles 1,498 AEG
Hiking5.78 Miles   3 Hrs   39 Mns   1.65 mph
1,498 ft AEG      9 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners

I finally got a chance to hike the infamous Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. Now, why the label infamous? Well, not due to Camelback’s overwhelming difficulty (though the trails to the summit contain some challenge). Rather, infamous due to the desire of seemingly everybody to hike the mountain, even those who fall short on preparations, even to the point of needing a rescue.

And I was able to put a twist on my route. So what is the twist?

Well, on a standard jaunt, one likely climbs to the peak and back down on the same side as the ascent, and does so on the Echo Canyon side. Still standard, those with two cars can station one car at the far end, and journey up one side (say Echo Canyon) and down the other (Cholla), then use the stationed car to return. Less frequent, but still to be considered relatively standard, the intrepid can go up one side and down the other side, then up and down again back to their starting point.

This route starts the last two ways, up one side and down the other, here with travel up the Echo Canyon side trail, then down Cholla on the other side. Then, in the twist, this route travels back to the starting point not via a stationed car, or a re-ascent and descent, but via a walk (aka flat and even enough not to deserve the title “hike”) via city streets.

City streets? A walk? Not very nature like, and not terribly challenging. Why this diversion into the urban landscape?

Well, for one, perspective. As one ambles westward on the streets, mainly along East McDonald Drive on the north side, one sees a changing view of Camelback, catching its ruggedness, its grandeur, its subtle changing hues. And as one does so amble one can wonder how the mountain became composed of rock from geological periods hundreds of millions of years apart.

Another reason – a view of urban homesteading. Camelback, a least it lower flanks, for long periods escaped guardianship under law or park designation. Thus, luxury homes populate much of the bottom elevations. One can thus judge for themselves whether these homes meld architecture and nature (for example in a way Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water house reasonably does), or on an opposite view scar the otherwise majestic upward sweep of the towering mountain.

Still another reason – a bit of speed. This route allows one to touch both trails on Camelback, without the time spent arranging for and then positioning two cars, or the time to go up and down twice. Using this route, on the spur of the moment, one can just pick up and hike/walk this route in three hours, plus and even minus.

Now note, on the day I took this, huge rains swept across the mountain first as I reached the peak, and then again as I stood on a ridge on Cholla. For both, I stopped and just hunkered down under a rain cover, choosing not to hike given the slipperly rocks, the somewhat high exposure, the howling wind, and of course a desire to not become drenched.

And unfortunately no pics. Sometimes, for me, taking pictures gets in the way of the experience. So I just hiked, leaving all photo gear untouched.
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2 archives
Sep 23 2019
roaminghiker
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 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Waldorf Arizona Biltmore, AZ 
Waldorf Arizona Biltmore, AZ
 
Walk / Tour avatar Sep 23 2019
roaminghiker
Walk / Tour3.79 Miles 442 AEG
Walk / Tour3.79 Miles   2 Hrs   8 Mns   2.05 mph
442 ft AEG      17 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Dropped into Phoenix for a wedding, and for visits with relatives, and while doing so stayed at a hotel along Camelback Avenue in the Biltmore area. And yes Camelback Avenue runs just about up to the base of the mountain of the same name.

During the stay, I did a number of hikes, some posted just alongside this posting. But one morning, looking for a bit of a different experience, I walked north from the hotel to the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf hotel, but of central interest here a campus-like set of buildings designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, with consultation by FLW himself.

I found the buildings to be an architectural gems. We don’t post here to discuss architectural styles, features and history, so I will defer from any long descriptions – other to say that the buildings reflect the horizontal and vertical lines I sense throughout FLW-type designs, and the interiors have a tone and symmetry pleasing to the eye.

Why post this then? As something different to experience, for a slice of variety, but still something that though man-made possesses sufficient interest and attractiveness to complement the beauty, ruggedness and serenity we find in nature.
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May 11 2019
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Flatiron Hike - SuperstitionsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar May 11 2019
roaminghiker
Hiking5.85 Miles 2,900 AEG
Hiking5.85 Miles
2,900 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Spectacular trail. Tremendous vertical rock scrambling rising a couple thousand feet up in a constant upward climb. That occurs of course after an initial leisurely amble up a "normal" trail, and then a trek through the "Basin", a bare, slick, smooth v-shaped inclining wash.

Now I surmize many trails and routes offer spectacular rock and scrambling climbs. Familiar with Sedona AZ, I might think Capital Butte offers such. But surmounting Capital Butte, or similar, involves, from what I read, treachery, exposure and even technical skills.

Siphon Draw to Flatiron provides rock scrambling and vertical ascent without anything approaching treachery, save scrapped hands on the rocks (bring gloves), or exposure, save how close one wants to come to the cliffs on Flatiron itself (optional, since Flatiron is the terminus.)

Now a few things we found helpful (note we were first timers.) We started early. We took off at 5 AM, from the overflow parking available before the gate to regular parking opens at 6 AM. The early start allowed us a complete ascent before the rising sun ended up in our eyes as we looked up to grab the next rock.

We brought gloves. We found gloves aided grip, immensely. (Yes, we needed to scramble using our hands; the better balanced and/or more experienced just walked on up.)

We asked directions. As first timers, we saw that at and after the "Basin" we could readily get lost. Now the more experienced or informed "announced" themselves (silently, as they proceeded more confidently and quickly than us.) We thus asked them, giving up any concern of revealing our "newbie" status. And all we asked assisted us without condescending. And without their nuanced course guidance, I am thinking we would have wandered in wrong directions, or even gotten lost.

The experience itself? Thrilling. Continuous climbing. Expansive views. Open vistas. Amazing rock formations. Great comaradarie among the hikers. A trail challenging but not treacherous. Great physical exertion. Unique adventure, at least unique for us.

Now a bit about water. Many advise bringing lots, and lots, of water. But water equals weight. So, bring the optimum amount of water. Look at the temperature (on our day in the 70's, lower than normal). Look at your start time (we started in the dark, with lights, in the cool dawn, given the first sections are regular trails ready traversed with lights). Know how much water you typically need (for me, not much). I brought four bottles, but needed only one. But then, if you project you need four, don't skimp and bring one.
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5 archives
May 06 2019
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Sedona Near Trail Loop, AZ 
Sedona Near Trail Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 06 2019
roaminghiker
Hiking18.11 Miles 2,565 AEG
Hiking18.11 Miles   13 Hrs   20 Mns   1.36 mph
2,565 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Loop Tour Sedona Trails, on May 6, 2019

Took a slightly different angle to hiking Sedona – stitched together a set of common short trails into a larger loop. Created a fifteen mile hike running through and across a variety of terrains and vistas in the red rock country. Described below are some highlights of the trails traversed. Use the corresponding GPS upload and geo-linked photos to follow along as desired or needed.

Brins Mesa Trail – Begins at the Jordan Trailhead parking as a mildly sloping, broad trail, then gradually increases in grade, but never to the point of noticeable steepness. Opens suddenly onto a wide, grassy mesa (i.e. Brins Mesa) dotted with separated pines and junipers. Descends gradually into a thick, at times dense, forest. Travels on occasion along rocky washes bordered periodically with outcroppings of red rock strata. In the cool dawn hours, offers a calm and relaxing ambiance, traversed – in the northwest downhill direction – with little exertion.

At its upper terminus on Forest Road 152, connects conveniently to Chuck Wagon Trail via short and well-marked spur. Mentioned here since the spur does not consistently appear on trail maps.

Chuck Wagon Trail (North of Mescal) – Continues with the forested terrain just encountered in the later parts of Brins Mesa Trail. Travels as needed along and across broad washes. Presents few elevation changes, and thus offers a relaxing, tranquil ramble, in restful solitude at least for me at the dawn hours.

Intersects Dry Creek, where at the date of my crossing had evidently experienced an enormous torrential surge. Evidence? Large, tangled mats of dead denuded tree limbs, roots and trunks sat crushed into heaps against standing trees. Appeared as almost a post-apocalyptic landscape.

Mescal then Chuck Wagon (South of Mescal) – Remain within the flat, lowland valley situated along the diagonal between Capital Butte and Bear Mountain. Features again forested sections alternating with more open shrub terrain. Excites the eye with the artistically curving trail at the wide views at Dry Creek vista.

Can create concern about a few of the fairly frequent passers, as these trail sections link convenient paved parking to the more distant Devil’s Bridge. Why concern? Round trip from parking to Devil’s Bridge runs five plus miles. While not an overwhelming or even extensive distance, the trek’s length may surprise and even challenge the casual visitor, some who appeared possibly not ready or prepared for the trek.

Lizard Head Trail (Official) – Offers on the initial stretch, as approaching from the north, wide views of this stout formation on the west flank of Capital Butte. Then rises swiftly to a ridge line traversing laterally along the formation. Up and down, in and out, narrow, but more fun than treacherous, quickens the heartbeat, a bit, after the gentle stretches of Chuck Wagon and Mescal, and the later parts of Brins Mesa.

Why “Official” in parentheses? For the intrepid, experienced and/or sufficiently skilled, an unofficial Lizard Head route starts a path which can ultimately reach the peak of the imposing massif of Capital Butte. Why no official route? Unlike say Wilson Mount, or Bear Mountain, both surmountable with moderate effort and minimal treachery, scaling Capital Butte involves steep climbs, high cliffs and open exposures, and demands exquisite routing, zero fear of heights, and high climbing competence.

Thunder Mountain Trail (Official) -- Weaves a twisting, rocky, somewhat hilly path at the base of the southern face of Capital Butte. Provides close-up views from multiple angles of this renowned and spectacular formation. Gives in-your-face encounters with several examples of the massive rock falls from cleavages off the towering heights above.

Set aside, at least I did, any desire to actually witness a dramatic cleavage. Simple reason – little chance I could predict the path of the falling and tumbling rocks, and no chance exists I could survive the impact of any cleavage event sufficiently dramatic to be interesting.

Teacup Trail – Meanders leisurely past the formations on the eastern flank of Capital Butte. Winds gently through forest and shrub vegetation. Gives interesting and at times powerful views of the side edge of Capital Butte.

Appears, at least by my navigation, not to be routed exactly as shown on the digital mapping to which I had access. Raises some concern, since one might, or at least I did, wonder if I missed a trail junction, and had become diverted onto a not uncommon local, uncharted trail. In the end reaches its intended terminus at Soldier Pass Trail.

Soldier Pass Trail to Jordan Trail – Features, just as one leaves Teacup, the interesting sink hole of Devil’s Kitchen. Provides, at the same location, junctions to a web of trails linking Soldier Pass to Jordan Trail and beyond. The overall web of trails travels through rolling, forested terrain along those trails, with some exceptions of moderate inclines. Offers collectively pleasant views of rock formations in multiple directions.

Contains a key notable viewpoint, the summit of Ant Hill, reached via the Grand Central Trail. The summit rises above the surrounding terrain providing views in all directions, with an added delight of possibility witnessing mountain bikers tackling the hill’s tricky ascents, drops and curves.

Jordan Lane (Street) – Accessed and returned from the trail head via a walk, not a drive, up the paved surface of Jordan Lane, i.e. did not have a car that day. Illustrates a small feature of Sedona trails – a number of their trail heads sit close enough to residences, or villas, or wherever one might be staying, that the trail heads can be reached on foot. Not unique to Sedona, but at the same time not always the case.

Overall – Started with low expectations; cobbled together the loop of trails when a rain forecast for future days triggered a change in plans. Expected crowds, little elevation change, only moderate views.

Blew away my doubts. Found solitude (except near Devil’s Bridge). Saw sweeping vistas. Experienced the range of flora and vegetation. In all the bits and pieces, climbed 2500 feet. Got in a good 15 miles. And gained an appreciation that even the common trails of Sedona, when linked in a (reasonably) thought-out loop, offer a good full day hike and experience.
Flora
Flora
Microseris
_____________________
May 04 2019
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Slim Shady TrailSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 04 2019
roaminghiker
Hiking4.34 Miles 775 AEG
Hiking4.34 Miles   3 Hrs   42 Mns   1.17 mph
775 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The loop of Slim Shady and Made in the Shade provides a relaxing, short jaunt among the Sedona red rocks. The loop sits on the west side of the main north-south road, across from the often-featured Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte, and just beneath the south end of a Seven Warriors formation. If done in the morning, the jaunt will feature evolving views of Bell Rock as the rising sun gradually illuminates the formation, plus good views of the differing colors and strata of the Seven Warriors peaks.

A special, nice twist runs above the maintained and officially-listed Slim Shady and Made in the Shade. The nice, little twist – an unregistered local trail. While the Shady-Shade loop runs at the base of formations, the local trail rises up to a ridge line at the top of the sloping sides of Seven Warriors, and just below the formation’s vertical spires and buttes.

This upper trail, though unmaintained and by all appearances unofficial, remains well-defined and easily followed. For our hike, we traveled along a short distance, and then descended, but this upper trail continues along the ridge. Why take the upper trail? Well, one almost always enjoys the quiet and uniqueness of an off-the-map path, and this one imposes no difficulties to traverse. But mainly one takes this route for the nice, expansive views, and the in-your-face perspective on the sandstone and limestone geology so richly abundant in Sedona.

Note, for the more knowledgeable, added trails, or I think the term would be routes, run further up to the top of the spires and buttes. We did not attempt those. While these routes to the top do not for the most part require technical climbing, they do rise more vertically, just a bit more treacherously, and not necessarily in a completely defined path.
_____________________
Aug 09 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Clear Creek Trail - GCNPNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 09 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking7.30 Miles 1,682 AEG
Hiking7.30 Miles   5 Hrs      1.46 mph
1,682 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Clear Creek Trail provided me a gorgeous, dare say spectacular, morning hike.

Some background. My wife and I stayed two nights, three days at Phantom Ranch down in the Grand Canyon. On the middle day, my wife walked and relaxed amidst the scenery, and I took some modest hikes.

As temperatures were expected to exceed 100 degrees by afternoon, I set out early – a bit after our 5 am breakfast sitting – to travel in the cooler morning air. (Note, camera for photoset had East Coast time, 3 hours ahead.) I aimed first to cover a short section of North Kaibab, to the second bridge from Phantom Ranch, then to double back and catch Clear Creek, not far in, just until it rose onto the plateau in front of Sumner Point on Zoraster Temple. All in, maybe a total of 7 plus miles round trip, including both the North Kaibab and Clear Creek legs.

The hike did not disappoint – I was graced with amazing views.

First, North Kaibab. North Kaibab runs essentially flat on the section to the second bridge, and was covered in shade in the early morning. The going was easy, and the lower canyon walls towered up around me, as I took in the gnarled shapes, bulges and incursions created by the intense pressures that formed the ancient rock of those walls.

And for me, the lower rock walls exuded a powerful vertical thrust, as what I presume actually happened a couple billion years ago. Collisions of land masses flattened out rocks not horizontally, but vertically, and hot magma rose upward through any cracks.

In contrast to North Kaibab, Clear Creek does not run horizontally, at least at the start. The first mile or so involves a vertical gain, modest, of about 1200 feet. The trail runs somewhat rugged in places, but the grade remains moderate and consistent, and the switchbacks and climb readily navigated. After the climb at the start, the trail levels out, gaining just several hundred feet in elevation to my end point below Sumner Point.

Clear Creek offered long, deep vistas. As I walked along, great lengths of the lower canyon walls with their powerful vertical lines and interlaced colors stretched out in multiple directions. Soft green expanses of low vegetation on talus slopes offset and counterbalanced the power of the walls. The Colorado river poked into view at spots. The horizontal strata of the lower sedimentary layers of the canyon laid stacked atop the lower walls, with their horizontal lines creating a sharp contrast to the vertical thrusts of the lower walls. And in the far distance, above, the bands of rock under the south rim prodded through visible amidst the distant haze.

Then the in-your-face close-ups. The level section of Clear Creek I traversed ran along the boundary between the hardened lower walls and the first set of horizontal sedimentary layers. The solidified magma and metamorphosed rock of the lower walls, warped and twisted though they were, reached up as if columns of a roman building, to hold up the great horizontal lengths of red and orange sedimentary sandstone. And while the sedimentary sandstone originated far into the past, many hundreds of millions of years ago, the magma and rock supporting them overshadowed this sandstone in age, having originated over a billion years ago. The boundary between the two represented eons and eons of ancient rock gone.

Finally, I met a complete change of scene once up on the plateau. On the plateau, gone were the vertical and horizontal strata that had for the last stretches stood at essentially arms length away and towered dozens and hundreds of feet above. Now I stood on gently undulating ground, not unlike that on the trail to Plateau point, amidst low cactus and scrub. Visible now, though, its view no longer blocked by the walls, rising a thousand feet above, rose the front face of Sumner Point, itself despite its size just the forward wall of one arm of the gigantic Zoraster Temple.

I turned around here, but Clear Creek ran for many more miles, to reach, well, Clear Creek proper, and along the way to the creek, provide stunning views further up the Colorado and further around Zoraster Temple.
_____________________
1 archive
Aug 08 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
South Kaibab TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking8.40 Miles 4,790 AEG
Hiking8.40 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   0.99 mph
4,790 ft AEG15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Having thirteen months prior broken through in the Grand Canyon reservation phone-in frenzy (i.e. pre-lottery) and procured a cabin slot, we started out on our trek down to Phantom ranch. We started early – excessive heat warnings had been issued, and my wife and I were durable but not speedy hikers. The four AM shuttle from the Backcountry Information Center dropped us off at Yaki Point at about half past, and head lamp equipped, we set off down South Kaibab.

Hiking with head lamps produces an eerie experience. Your world becomes not the expanse of the canyon or the sheerness of the canyon walls, but the small circle in front of you illuminated by the lamps. But we shrugged it off, since a pre-dawn start would keep us, for the most part, out of the hot mid-day temperatures.

At about quarter of six, the sun poked over the horizon, providing the first glimpse of the canyon, and the first photo opportunities. We took the obligatory pictures, but also just took in the experience.

By six, we could dispense with the head lamps. As the sun rose, its low, tinted light heightened and highlighted the orange and red hues of the Canyon’s rocks, sands and facades. We were graced by scenes both amazing to view and delightful to photograph.

We proceeded, making steady time, about a mile an hour or so, not stellar, but consistent. We brought a good supply of water, and kept the increasingly intense sun at bay with light, long sleeve, collared over garments. We find that to cover with a light full garment protects one from the sun and beats the heat better than a more typical approach of a skimpy top.

As we hiked down, I felt the history in the rocks, or more academically the “depositional environments” that gave us all the layers and strata and colors and cross-beddings in the walls of the Canyon. I could sense the rivers, and flood plains, and coastal shores, and oceans, and deep deserts shifting through time, each laying down sediment and animal remains linked to each environment. As we descended to the lowest level, I could feel the continents and island chains colliding, and the rock changing under the intense chaos of the collisions, and the magma pushing up through the cracks.

We marched on, passing and noting each of the landmark locations – Cedar Ridge, Skeleton Point, and Tip Off. We looked in amazement, still, even having seen it before, at the iconic O’Neill Butte, watching it evolve from a distant peak in front of us, to a towering giant as we passed, to a looming presence as we looked back. As we rounded corners, different expanses of the Canyon emerged into view – Zoraster Temple, Isis Temple, and the whole tapestry of peaks and ravines and slopes and colors. And also the mule trains; we passed one with travelers going up, and another supply mule pack bringing up items and likely trash from Phantom Ranch.

At the end, a bit tired of course, and now under the intense mid-day sun from our only modest rate of descent, we crossed the black suspension bridge about 12:30 PM. We knew a last leg ran ahead of us to Phantom Ranch. We trekked on, checking the thermometer at the bridge across the creek at the campground (116 degrees but in the direct sun), then passing the ranger station and crew quarters, then past the amphitheatre and mule ring. We took care not to be fooled that any of those signaled we had finished. Then finally the canteen, partially air conditioned, with tables to sit at and for me a place to catch a refreshing drink of cold lemonade (I mixed it with iced tea and plenty of ice) available at $4.75, but keep the cup for the bargain of $1.00 refills.

Refreshed, I stepped outside, and in the midst of no cell signal, and the lack of highway traffic, and the absence of crushing urban crowds, I took in the magnificence that nature had built – the rocks billions of years old, the canyon millions of years old, and the trees and vegetation decades old, and a graceful black bird swirling in the Canyon uplifts and the gurgling of the creek beside me.
_____________________
Aug 08 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Phantom Ranch Location, AZ 
Phantom Ranch Location, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 08 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking
Hiking
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Phantom Ranch 2018

For our 2018 Grand Canyon excursion we stayed not just one night, but rather two nights, at Phantom Ranch. While an extended stay runs a bit pricey, we relished the added time at the Ranch. My wife walked and relaxed amidst the nature and calm; I hiked Clear Creek Trail, a bit of North Kaibab, and the start of Utah Flats; and we both enjoyed the immersion in the power of the rocks of the lower canyon.

With our positive experience, and and longer stay, we thought it beneficial to share what we learned and encountered.

The People

All good on this account. The staff, including the mule captains and the ranger and the servers and the cooks, all treated the guests with a genuine friendliness. Not in a corporate, formal, polished manner – just a personal, warm kindliness.

Similarly, the fellow guests engaged each other. People from all over the country and the world had trekked or rode down to the Ranch, and the conversation flowed easily as people talked about their home country, or how they came down, or what they had seen.

The Scenery

Spectacular. The variety at Phantom Ranch delights the visitor. Start with the rocks. The basement level of the Canyon, visible at Phantom Ranch, and especially with a walk a short distance up North Kaibab, features strong, powerful granites and schists that rise forcefully up into turbulent towers, in all varieties of textures and colors and striations.

Then of course the creek. It gurgles as it flows gently through the camp, the water clear, crisp, the banks lined with trees and grasses. And thanks to the creek, Phantom Ranch overall sits among not the scrappy, hardened desert vegetation of the general canyon, but among leafy, vibrant trees, and a range of green underbrush.

Observe the sunrise, either at the Ranch or if you leave pre-dawn as the sun rises along your way out. The low sun at dawn will heighten the colors of the upper canyon walls into an almost fiery hue. And admire the Colorado. Muddy yes, but the Colorado provided the genesis of the Canyon, cutting and blasting an incision. Then wind, rain, ice, vegation, creeks, thermal expansion, wind, gravity – all the subtle and powerful and varied forces of nature carved away the rock and soil to create the Grand Canyon.

Finally, for those inclined, observe the suspension bridges. While not the most complex engineering, the design and execution exhibits cleverness and ingenuity in the support and stability cabling, in the bridge decking, and in the abutments and anchoring of the bridge and cables into the rock.

Dining

For us, breakfasts and dinners at Phantom Ranch filled and fulfilled our hunger. These meals come family style, with ample portions, and we rarely saw any item run out.

Breakfast featured dollar pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, with plenty of syrup, butter and for those desiring it, ketchup. We reluctantly skipped breakfast the second morning, a trying decision given how good we found the meal the first day, but prudence won, as we left in the dark at 3:40 to beat the heat on the way up.

Dinner our first night offered a choice (we had to pre-pick) of beef stew or vegetarian chili. I selected chili, which consisted of beans, carrots and corn in a rich mixture, and found it tasty and delightful. My wife picked the stew, which was equally rich, but which my wife rated only a bit above average. Not that the stew lacked ingredients, or strong consistency, but rather the taste wasn’t what she found to her liking.

For our second night, we picked the second sitting, featuring the steak dinner. The steak was cooked nicely, about medium (you could not pick how you wanted it done), and came with a baked potato hot in aluminum foil, carrots and cornbread. Excellently done and excellent to eat.

A bright, fresh salad of lettuce, tomato and other items came with dinner both nights, and dessert featured one night chocolate cake and the second a rich chocolate brownie.

Now for lunch. Basically trail food. Cookies, nuts, electrolyte mix, trail bars, a sausage roll, bagels, sugar and chocolate candies, apples, a small cheese snack. Smart items for hiking; rather monotonous if one, like us, needs lunch the middle day of a three day, two night stay. But no complaints; we knew Phantom Ranch didn’t feature a full lunch.

How about drinks? Well, no soda. Yes, beer and wine, but no carbonated soft drinks. The redemption came in the form of ice tea, lemonade and endless ice cubes. A large cup of those items costs $4.75, a bit of a steep price of entry, but refills cost one dollar. Over our stay we refilled a good dozen times, maybe more.

Accommodations

Functional. Not fancy, or luxurious, or plush. But everything did what we needed, Let’s cover the cabins, the canteen, and shower house.

Our cabin proved perfectly adequate. The bunk beds gave reasonable sleep, sufficient electrical outlets existed to charge our cell phones (no service, but still needed to take pictures and write up logs), the toilet and sink meant no odd trips out to a rest room, and a couple chairs and tables allowed us to spread out our items and food to stay organized. And the cabin provided air conditioning.

True, the cabins feature hard, concrete floors, simple stone and wood construction, basic curtains, and a plain sink and toilet, in other words nothing glamorous – but otherwise clean, sturdy, functional, effective and serviceable.

The canteen proved the same. The building served as dining hall, gathering place, general store, and front desk, efficiently. Enough tables existed to accommodate guests at and between meals. The air conditioning provided enough cooling to give a respite from the August heat. The ice tea, lemonade and ice cube machine never ran out. A great variety of trail food, and personal care items (e.g. analgesics, tooth paste), and souvenirs, and hiking needs (e.g. head lamps) could be purchased. Post cards could be bought, and mailed by mule.

And just right sized to serve meals – the servers could readily and quickly bring the food to each end of the tables, and the guests handed it person-to-person.

The common showers did what was needed. Absolutely nothing fancy, but nonetheless effective, though at times quirky. The shower room provided three private stalls, with wood partitions, with enough room to shower, dry and dress. And plenty of large, somewhat stiff, towels. But quirky. The ceiling light operated on a timer, not a problem, but one had to figure out that the timer in the entry room turned on the lights in the shower room. And each shower was controlled by a slightly different set of plumbing, each which (for me) took a bit of experimentation to get the temperature and flow to what I desired. But again, the showers did the job.

Diversions

The Ranch provides a few interesting diversions. The first, the Ranger talks, proved interesting and enriching. Range talks occurred twice a day, at 4 and 6:30 PM, with the earlier talk under the tree-covered benches near the canteen, and the second further towards the creek in the amphitheatre. In our two days, we had four talks, and in those talks, our Ranger, Kate, explored four different topics – geology, lightning, ravens and snakes – with gusto, passion, a flurry of visual aids, and ample audience participation, while providing interesting and authoritative information and explanations.

Two small libraries, one at the Ranger station and the second in the canteen, plus a small book store, in the canteen, offer books. Now maybe reading a book has slipped down a typical list of activities, but no cell service exists at Phantom Ranch, so reading amidst nature has an attraction and a serenity.

A final diversion, a natural one, flowed right past the Ranch. It is the creek itself. Temperatures topped 110 degrees each day, as registered on the informal thermometer (sitting high over a message board, in direct sun, but still hot). So cooling off is desirable, and can be accomplished, and by many was accomplished, by sitting, or laying , or just dangling feet, in the cool waters of Bright Angel Creek.

The Layout and Trails

Phantom Ranch, in its totality, extends a good distance. Right at the river, on both sides, the trail system allows a direct connection from South Kaibab to Bright Angel. Along the connection on the north side, using the black and silver suspension bridges, one can get water and use rest room facilities. The south side appears to only have rest rooms. Both sides access emergency phones.

Turning north away from the river, into Phantom Ranch, a long stretch of trail (this nominally represents the start of North Kaibab) passes the campground area. Bridges cross Bright Angel Creek at both ends of the campground. Past the campground, the trail continues past the Ranger Station, the ranger talk amphitheatre, the mule ring, and other assorted buildings, again for a good stretch. Finally, the trail passes the cabins, which come in two sizes, then the shower house, then the canteen (i.e. where one checks in), then the dormitories.

Note web searches and maps will reveal all of this quite readily, but I describe it here more to offer a bit of preparation. At the end of a hike down from the South Rim, legs could likely be tired and temperatures rising. One might feel they have arrived once at either of the suspension bridges, but much remains to traversed to get to check-in

On the list here we should put Clear Creek Trail. Not highly featured, Clear Creek Trail offers a decidely uncrowded encounter (I met no-one in my several hours) with the lowyer canyon walls. The trail starts a short walk north from the canteen, and quickly ascends about 1200 feet in the first mile then levels off for several miles. The trail runs for 8 miles; I followed it for about 2 and a half. The trail provides long vistas all the way to the South Rim, and in-your-face close-ups of the stratifications, layerings, intrusions and granules in the rocks and facades.

Special Note – Utah Flats

For the adventurous, and also (caution note here) experienced, the Utah Flats route leaves at Phantom Ranch. This route takes one to canyon and climbing locations considerably off the path. I highlight such routes here to identify that paths exist not necessarily shown on typical trail maps.

Now as a route, Utah Flats is not just unmaintained, but not even developed. The grade is step, the footing loose, the continuity of direction uncertain, the rocks sharp, the cactus ever present. Not impossible though. With an early start, or in a cooler month, one (fit, able, being careful to not loose the route, and willing to expend some effort) could traverse Utah Flats (all the way to Phantom Creek) with acceptable even good pace. But I had hiked part of Clear Creek in the morning, so I started early afternoon, and as another consideration temperatures had risen to 110. So I deferred, and covered a few thousand feet, to see Phantom Ranch, and the Canyon, from a viewpoint not commonly reached.
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1 archive
Aug 07 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 
Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Aug 07 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking2.23 Miles 233 AEG
Hiking2.23 Miles   1 Hour   15 Mns   1.78 mph
233 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
In planning our trip to hike the Grand Canyon (we had, amazingly, navigated the call-in reservation gauntlet and secured a cabin slot) we included a stop in Flagstaff, to hike and view the mountains around that city. We choose some moderate hikes, letting prudence keep us from say summiting one of the San Fransico Peaks before a full descent to Phantom Ranch and back.

We thus did Fatman’s Loop, part of the trip up Mount Elden, and Old Caves Crater. And, given our hotel sat next to the campus, we took an early morning tour/walk through Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Two plus miles, not long, since we were driving to the Grand Canyon after that.

The sunrise met us with a cool breeze, and the campus, being August, and fewer students, provided a calm surrounding. So we strolled through the pleasant and open campus grounds, at just a brisk enough pace to warm the legs.

And I took some interest in the architecture. Just as nature can delight the eye and enrich us with its beauty, so can architecture delight the eye and enrich us with its texture.

The architecture of the NAU campus does catch the eye. Almost every building offers some line, or color, or façade, or shape, or form, that generates interest and intrigue.

Take for example, The Wedge, an eating establishment. The building features a severe triangular shape, with a sharp pointed overhang in the roof, and a stark silver and glass façade. The Wedge shares the silver façade and sharp angles with Startbuck’s building, which includes its own flare in a walkway tunnel through the building.

Also, the Science and Health Building. This building features an eclectic U-shape, with a faceted glass façade to the interior court, a bronze metal, horizontally laced frontage to the exterior, and a dramatic nighttime lighting of the interior stairwell. Even the mechanical building proved interesting, as the building had large expanses of glass revealing the electrical, HVAC and other equipment inside, highlighted also with striking nighttime lighting.

So at each turn of our walk, each building provided a new twist, an added combination of features to entice the viewer.

But then, that constant uniqueness became a pattern. The menagerie of buildings exhibited a sort of audacious freedom, bordering on impudent anarchy. General themes existed, but each building in its design interpreted that theme differently, at times discordantly.

So angularity of exterior surfaces ran throughout the campus. But the Wedge exhibited this with a triangular shape and a pointed roof; and the Science and Health Building with its skewed stairwells, faceted cladding and eccentric shape. Diagonal roof lines adorned many buildings, but not all. Some garage stairwells, and the Science Lab Facility, featured angled arcs in their roof lines. And the Health and Learning Center possessed a generally straight roof line and right angle corners, but a metal clad façade with triangular and diamond shaped figures in alternating shades of brown and tan.

Red also ran through the campus. Thus many building featured brick exteriors, but others featured burgundy/red/brown in a metal cladding façade. The Marketing and Operations office used red blocks, not bricks, and the Communication building highlighted its window line with a red, modern adornment. Maybe by chance, but maybe not, sections of the piping visible through some glass facades features red.

On the surface then, the architectural mix here represents an almost blatant chaos. But a more considered perspective, in my eye, reveals a subtle cohesion. The campus serves as a University, not a corporation. Allowing freedom of perspective and interpretation in individual building design, but within a broad framework, fits the aims of a University – respectful diversity of opinion, expression, and exploration.

Further, the University has grown and continues to grow. Different designs, but again within a general architectural concept, give landmarks to the different decades of the University’s growth, and the differing building materials and theories during that growth.

Finally, the University sits among the diversity of the colors and rock strata of its surrounding geography. Sedona to the south, the San Fransico Peaks at its doorsteps, and the Grand Canyon to the north – we admire the variation. The angular and red themes of the architecture, and the variation in the execution of those themes, mimic that of the nature around the University.

Of interest, one key feature did achieve a high uniformity – bicycle racks. Everywhere. Not that the racks were the same – though they seemed to be – but that every building had one. And bicycle lanes. The sidewalks featured bike lanes as prominently as walking lanes. Also uniformly, solar recycle cans dotted the University in every location.

So, as I see it, NAU architecture offered flexibility where it benefited, and uniformity when it mattered.
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Jul 21 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Rainbow Falls TrailEastern, NY
Eastern, NY
Hiking avatar Jul 21 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking14.00 Miles 2,800 AEG
Hiking14.00 Miles   9 Hrs   30 Mns   1.47 mph
2,800 ft AEG15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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On a humid, but otherwise clear and sunny Saturday in July, my wife and I hiked the carriageways and footpaths of Minnewaska State Park, with our destination Rainbow Falls.

First, a little bit about Minnewaska. Minnewaska State Park, in the Hudson Valley region of New York, and sitting south of the Catskills, offers an inviting mix of hiking and scenery. Trails range from paved carriageways fit for an easy stroll and leisurely walk, to moderately strenuous paths with dips and curves and some hand-over-hand climbing. The scenery includes several magnificent plateau level lakes, a collection of water falls, expansive overlooks, and jutting rock battlements.

To the ardent hiker, though, be warned. The main park entrance at Minnewaska Lake features such easy access, and such effortless walkways, and such a nice picnic and swim area, that one looking for invigoration, or an escape from encroaching crowds, would be advised to not use the main entrance. Check the map, and go in via Sam’s Point Preserve, or Jenny Lane, or Mohonk Reserve. And the main entrance remains barricaded (to cars, one could walk in) until 8AM; parking at the alternate entrances is possible any time.

Our route posted here features a further alternate access, via Awosting Reserve. Few use this access, so a good bit of tranquity reigns. And this point of access starts well below the lake level, providing the invigoration of a good elevation change. Most of the route consists of dirt or gravel carriageways, with sections of footpaths mixed in, so the route presents a fairly smooth surface underfoot. The section at the northeast part of the loop, into Rainbow Falls, stands as an exception, with more excitement from rocky trails, sharp inclines, tree roots and the like, but would by no means be considered overly strenuous.

As for Rainbow Falls itself, while it lacks the volume flow of say Verderkeer or Awosting Falls, Rainbow Falls easily allows one to get right up and into the water as it cascades over the cantilevered cliff above. In the humidity, the cool spray refreshed, but at the same time made photography tricky since the best angles seemed to require not just getting in the spray, but in the heavy splashes. We stayed amidst the sounds and sights of Rainbow for a good bit, relaxing, in a solitude, as no one else was present or even passed us.

Rainbow Falls exemplifies the dichotomy of Minnewaska. Rainbow Falls, and the Awosting Access, provide an isolation, a peaceful seclusion. The main entrance, at Minnewaska Lake, as mentioned above, overflows with humanity and crowds (nothing wrong with that, just different). In the middle of that range, and passed in the route posted here, lies the public beach area of Lake Awosting, with some crowds. But think highly of them. No roads lead to Awosting beach. The bathers, including the children, walked, or rode a bike, several miles to enjoy the relative seclusion of the lake.

The route here passes other points of interest. The route travels around Lake Awosting, with a variety of scenic views and vistas, and the quiet presence of the calm lake. A side spur reaches Murray Hill, with amazing expansive views in essentially all directions. And Spruce Glenn trail passes interesting rock embankments, as well as plentiful groves of, well, spruces.

Other points of interest, not on the loop here, but readily added, include include Hamilton and Castle Points (via easy carriageways), Verderkeer Falls (via wooded and somewhat uneven foot trails), or even to Lake Minnewaska (via longer walks on carriageways, and into the crowds). If you venture to this park, check the maps and the web, as you likely would for any hike, to identity all the various scenic points of interest.

Finally, think Autumn. In the fall, the generous forests of the park sparkle with color, and the overlooks and vistas offer expansive views, and the trails and carriageways provide deep immersion, into the colors. Timing is critical – I have missed peak season on both sides (though still with gorgeous color), and haven’t quite figured out how to know peak color.
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Jun 09 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
North Queens Parks, NY 
North Queens Parks, NY
 
Hiking avatar Jun 09 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking16.00 Miles 5 AEG
Hiking16.00 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   1.88 mph
5 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
North Queens Parks – The Urban Hike Two

We, my wife and I, again took advantage of the multiple parks of New York City, and took a rather grand 16 mile tour of various public commons in North Queens. We had thoroughly enjoyed our first, shorter, urban hike through eastern Queens parks a couple week earlier (as chronicled in a separate HAZ trip log plus route), and thus we undertook a longer trek.

We started early, 5 AM, when of course temperatures are lower, but also when the heavily treed streets and parks of Queens would provide shade for a good number of hours. Oakland Lake was our first designation. The lake stretches about a good quarter mile in length, encircled all around by a newly rebuilt pathway. The recent rains had triggered the vegetation to grow thick and luscious, providing as close to a tropical forest experience as one could imagine in the midst of New York City.

We intended our next stop to be the Michaels Mile pathway along Little Neck Bay. (Search on “Joe Michaels Mile Queens” for the heartening story on the namesake here.) To our surprise, and chagrin, a fence barricaded our entry; posted signs announced that reconstruction was in progress. While an immediately disappointment, we took heart in the ongoing and constant Parks Department work to upgrades parks, pathways and playgrounds. After all, just several years ago the Oakland Lake pathway had degraded to essentially impassable, and its upgrade was a complete and wildly successful restoral.

Undaunted, we looped back west and north, through city streets, to Crocheron Park, a small respite tucked in the residential areas around 33rd Avenue. The morning sun cast its delicate light across the tiny pond and open grasslands of Crocheron.

We then proceeded to the 28th Avenue pedestrian bridge. Not all of Michaels Mile was closed, and the pedestrian bridge took us over the Cross Island Parkway to the open, northern section. The Michaels Mile pathway represents the dichotomy of the urban park experience. On its west side, the pathway skirts directly against the Cross Island Parkway, with its heavy, noisy, irritating high speed traffic, while just as directly on east side Michaels Mile offers constant vies of the serene and placid waters of Little Neck Bay.

Michael’s Mile ends at a Fort Totten, once a major defensive battery protecting New York and now a park. A bit of planning would have helped, as the park was open, but the historic stone fortifications on the shore line were closed. The park does offer views of Throgs Neck Bridge, spanning high over apartments and houses along the shoreline. We then proceeded west through Little Bay Park, with its soccer fields, then under the Throgs Neck, at which point we turned south.

Park space ended. To go south, we proceeded down quiet residential blocks, with their trimmed shrubbery and manicured lawns, albeit on tightly spaced lots. Flags flew on an occasional home, and the houses varied in style, color and size. Traffic was sparse, and the walk quiet and relaxing.

Our walk south was aimed at the Queens Botanical Garden, but we went through Bowne park about midway. Asian Pacific music filled the air as two different groups went through their dance and meditation sequences, while in another section kids frolicked and laughed on the (newly renovated) play equipment and sprinklers.

As we approached the Botanical Gardens, the urban density increased. The streets could no longer hold their perfect geometric layout, store fronts appeared, apartment buildings disrupted the rows of houses, and wide avenues carried heavy traffic.

Queens Botantical Garden offers an amazing variety of flowers, foliages, walkways and trees. We did not enter, though. We had hoped to traverse the park, and exit at a pedestrian bridge on the west side, but (as we had suspected from Google satellite views) the gate to the bridge remains locked as no admission booth or security point would prevent unpaid entry otherwise.

We then turned east, looping back to our residence. We picked up Kissena Park and Peck Park, as well as a series on connecting corridors between them, (covered in the prior triglog) then over the pedestrian bridge spanning the Long Island expressway, then through more neighborhood streets to our home.
_____________________
3 archives
May 26 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Greenway - Eastern Queens, NY 
Greenway - Eastern Queens, NY
 
Hiking avatar May 26 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking6.00 Miles 785 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   2 Hrs   15 Mns   2.67 mph
785 ft AEG
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
The Urban Hike

New York City, maybe to one’s surprise, but maybe not, offers an abundance of parks and walkways in and through all the boroughs. One grand path, the Greenway, runs 40 miles as a continuous pedestrian and cyclist route, starting at Coney Island in Brooklyn then stretching north and west to Fort Totten on the Long Island Sound in Queens.

Here in this triplog I cover a short section of the Greenway, in east Queens, and a park through which the Greenway runs, Alley Pond.

First, Alley Pond. Alley Pond in Queens offers the typical walkways, picnic areas and ball fields of a NYC park, but also a rich labyrinth of deep woods trails. One can readily loose site of any urban artifacts and stroll for hours in the loops and circles in Alley Pond, though the traffic noise of nearby roads does prevent a complete escape.

For this trip, we (my wife and I) entered Alley Pond on a western corner at Springfield and 73rd Avenue, proceeded east through Alley Pond, to pick up the Greenway where it runs along the Vanderbilt Motorway. In the early 1900’s, this private road served the elite as a route to their wealthy estates, and also allegedly provided an escape method for Prohibition bootleggers. The Motorway now provides a wide, hilly, shaded walkway in the NYC park complex, and serves as one of many links in the chain of segments comprising the Greenway.

We proceeded west on the Motorway to its terminus at Cunningham Park, then continued west on the Greenway on a pathway in Cunningham along ball fields, then over Francis Lewis Boulevard, then north on the Greenway parallel to Francis Lewis. Here we see the ingenuity of the Greenway. Here, and in other sections, the Greenway picks up thin sections of park and pathway sandwiched between otherwise fully urban development. The link of the Greenway along Francis Lewis runs in a park section just a couple hundred feet wide nestled between Francis Lewis and 199th Street.

Continuing north, the Greenway features a long pedestrian bridge spanning both the six lanes of the Long Island Expressway and the six lanes of the bordering service roads. This again provides wonder – what dedicated civil servant or urban planner thought carefully enough decades ago to insert this small but wonderful feature into the overall design of the otherwise massive undertaking of cutting the Long Island Expressway through Queens.

The Greenway continues north and west skirting the ball fields of Peck Park, then through another thin, hidden narrow bit of parkland between Utopia and Fresh Meadow Lane. After sneaking through a woods between a maintenance garage and a golf course, the Greenway makes a concession to its urban setting. No pathway exists for the next section, so the Greenway runs along the sidewalks of Underhill Avenue. This however leads to a glorious plunge into Kissena Park. Kissena Park features, you guessed it, ball fields and walkways, but also a serene lake, tennis courts, and randomly, an active veledrome for bicycle racing.

A picture should emerge now of the extensive park system in New York City. Along a several mile stretch of the Greenway, we have run through Alley Pond, Cunningham, Peck and now Kissena Park. And for the most part these New York City parks also feature, pragmatically, public restrooms, and these restrooms are functional, useable, but don’t expect marble sinks and grand mirrors. Not, lots of institutional grade tile and stainless steel toilets.

Note, though, on our urban hike, when my wife and I passed through Kissena Park, the rest room facilities were closed, for renovations. That of course proved an immediate inconvenience, but in the longer view encouraged us – New York City appears sufficiently solvent and organized to schedule renovations of park restrooms. Further, on the return loop back to our home, we used the facilities at Peck Park, and two park attendants were actively picking up trash, emptying trash cans and cleaning the bathrooms. On a Saturday.

Kissena Park ended our outbound leg. The Greenway continues on, but we reversed direction and looped back to our home near our starting point at Alley Pond.
_____________________
5 archives
May 10 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Mystic TrailSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 10 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking2.50 Miles 400 AEG
Hiking2.50 Miles   2 Hrs      1.25 mph
400 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
Starting at a trailhead on Chapel Road at Antelope Road, one can put together a scenic hiking loop of five segments – Mystic to Pigtail to Hog Wash to Peccary then back to the start along Mystic. One does not take this loop necessarily for the hiking challenge—the loop runs but two and half miles, with a cumulative elevation gain of but 400 feet. Rather, the loop offers wide picturesque views in multiple directions, and does so pleasantly and in the absence of large, if any, crowds.

Right at the start Cathedral rock greets one to the west. As one progresses around the loop, views emerge of Wilson Mountain, Steamboat Rock, the spires on the southern side of Schnebly Hill Road, Capital Butte and in the northwest distance peaks around Bear Mountain. Don’t forget to turn around though. The trail skirts Twin Buttes, which if not for the presence of Bell Rock, Twin Buttes might have risen to more acclaim as a scenic attraction.

The trail system in and around Twin Buttes twists and wraps in all directions, so one can readily alter and extend this loop, including all the way east to Submarine Rock. Just consult the posted trail signs, since the trail group here contains at least one bicycle only stretch.

Enjoy.
_____________________
1 archive
May 10 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Thomas Point Trail #142Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 10 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking1.25 Miles 1,010 AEG
Hiking1.25 Miles   1 Hour   30 Mns   0.83 mph
1,010 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Thomas Point Trail Head Details

I wanted to see the sun rise in Oak Creek canyon, so I took a quick hike up the Thomas Point trail. The morning met me with a brisk wind, but the sky was clear, and I was treated by the brilliance of the sun slowly illuminating the grand white walls of Oak Creek canyon. I then took a quick hike down, and arrived back our villa/hotel by 7 AM, to join my wife for hiking in the morning around the red rocks of Sedona.

But here I want to give some details about the Thomas Point trail head, as the trail head sits rather obscurely at a nondescript point. One key landmark is on the west side of the road directly across from the trail head, and is a thick wood post holding a green house number sign “10055.” South of the sign post about 75 feet sits another marker, a broad red block about two feet square and about five feet tall. The trail itself starts on the east side of the road, at a slanted concrete block embedded in the embankment, about five feet off the road. The old trail head sign of rusted metal sits up the trail about 15 feet, but the concrete block provides a much more visible marker of the trail head.

The trail head lies several hundred feet south of the entrance to the Call of the Canyon park. If one goes to the south end of the parking lot there, a standard wood trail sign points to a fairly overgrown but visible connector to Thomas Point trail. Do not, of course, take the concrete path to West Fork. This connector trail dumps one onto 89A, about 100 yards too far north. But this is close enough to the actual trail head that a short walk south should allow one to see either the green house number sign, or the red brick block, or the concrete block itself.
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May 09 2018
roaminghiker
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 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
West Fork Oak Creek Trail #108Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 09 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking6.00 Miles 300 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles
300 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
West Fork trail, at the Call of the Canyon day use area north of Sedona, ranks among the most popular, the most visited, and the most highly rated.

The serious hiker should not be deterred by the popularity, though, for the trail delights the senses. West Fork treats the eyes with enormous, crisp-cut red walls, surmounted by spectacular white peaks, set within towering pines, lush vegetation and of course the flowing waters of West Fork creek. The birds chirp, the insects buzz, the breeze rustles through the trees, and the water splashes through the occasional rapid or rock cascade. Those with a good sense of smell will breath in nuanced scents from the pines, the bushes and the intermittent flower. All this with the coolness of a higher elevation than Sedona and the shade of a much more generous coverage of trees.

The trail provides these delights with a reasonably invigorating hike. Unlike say Bell Rock, viewable with a short walk, or even from a scenic overlook, a full experiencing of West Fork involves traversing a round trip of about seven miles and navigating a good two dozen stream crossings counting those in both directions.

Part of the challenge involves navigating the crowds. Arriving early helps. The Call of the Canyon area offers only limited parking, paid, and will fill up, and only about 15 free off-road spots exist on 89A, with those a not short distance north. Arrival at 7:30 AM should garner an off-road spot, or a place safely in the waiting line for the 8 AM opening of the paid parking. Safely means that literally, since the waiting line can extend out onto 89A.

Note the really early can grab one of a handful of paid spots in Call of the Canyon parking but that sit outside the metal gate. I would say try to grab one by 6:30 to 7 AM. You will need to use a self-registration envelope to pay for the outside-the-gate Call of the Canyon spot. Why not just use off-road rather that an early self-registration, aka paid, spot? Well you save a bit of walking, you get a safer parking sport, and if you have kids they don’t need to walk along the narrow side shoulder of Route 89A.

As noted earlier, West Fork sports a good number of stream crossings. But unlike Oak Creek itself, where strength, dexterity and daring must be summoned to cross the often strong current and deep waters, the West Fork crossings involve depths less than a foot and often feature rocks placed in the stream. But becoming complacent after many successful crossings can lead to wet boots and soggy socks from careless slips. And do be aware that a recent rain could ramp up the crossing difficulty.

West Fork can be navigated sockless with hiking sandals, rather than boots, since the trail consists mostly of sand under foot, and limited stretches of rock or sharp climbs. Such sandals reduce the effort of the stream crossings; once can just walk right through the water. But the prized benefit emerges at the end of trail. There, the walls of the West Fork canyon narrow to the creek’s edge. The hiker must wade through the water to go further. Boots will not work, unless you enjoy the hike out in completely drenched footwear, nor will going barefoot, unless your feet can handle a rocky stream bed. Hiking sandals provide a one-pair-of-footwear option to continuing further.
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May 07 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Casner Canyon to Damifino Loop, AZ 
Casner Canyon to Damifino Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 07 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking8.40 Miles 1,814 AEG
Hiking8.40 Miles   5 Hrs   50 Mns   1.44 mph
1,814 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Having visited Sedona at various times, I have been enchanted by the red rock formations just north of town east of Midgley Bridge across Route 89A.

As I surveyed trails into those formations, some offered potential, but not enough. Casner Canyon held interest, but ran a bit north of the formations. And then the rather daunting creek crossing at the trail’s start made me wonder if the vantage point of the trail warranted the effort of crossing. Hangover Trail, reached via Munds Wagon, did provide a short look into the formations from the south, but turned back to Munds Wagon before reaching the center of the formations.

I then discovered the unofficial Damifino trail. Being unofficial, the trail would go unmaintained, but the snippets about the trail on various web sites indicated the trail still allowed passage. And the Damifino ran to and through the formations of interest, at least sufficiently close for good views.

With the Damifino discovered, a quick look showed not only does the Damifino cover otherwise untrailed vistas, but Damifino allows a rather glorious loop. This loop starts at the Casner trial head, up Casner, across the Mogollon Plateau until Casner intersects Schnebly Hill Road at an overlook named, guess what, the Schnebly Hill Vista.

From the vista, the loop takes Schnebly Hill Road down and around a large outcropping, then to an upper trailhead on Munds Wagon. We then proceed on Munds around Merry-Go-Rock, to Cows Pies, and Cow Pies to Hangover.

We now reach the key to the loop, which otherwise ceases to exist. Midway on Hangover, the loop catches Damifino Trail. (Note, I have entered a Damifino triplog, which provides insights into navigating that trail). Damifino runs west and north through the red rock formations that enchanted and enchant me, then down to intersect Casner Canyon just at Oak Creek, closing the loop. Another creek crossing brings one back to where one likely parked, or was dropped off.

This loop engulfs the hiker in the breath of the geologies and ecologies of Sedona. The loop features the mixed vegetation along Oak Creek, the mountainside forest as one ascends Casner Canyon trail, then the twisted cubic dark rock formations gracing Casner just before the rim. Above the rim, on the Mogollon Plateau, one enters a completely different zone of open flat grassland dotted with randomly placed pines.

One encounters humanity along the Schnebly Hill Road stretch. These intrusions, certainly gentle but nevertheless noticeable, include a fiber cable maker post, a likely passing by a pink jeep entourage, drainage pipes and retaining barriers, and an occasional road sign.

However, one soon reaches an upper trailhead for Munds Wagon, which we take to Cow Pies and Hangover. One enters along this stretch the spectacular and renowned red rock vistas of Schnebly Hill on one side, and the towering white flanks of Munds Mountain on the other. If hiking, do not be deterred by the warning sign at the junction of Cow Pies and Hangover. The sign cautions bikers; hiking Hangover presents challenges, but nothing like the technical skills bikers must possess.

In any event, on Cow Pies, Hangover, and then to Damifino, one traverses right over and beneath to the red rock in all its forms and glory. Do notice how vegetation breaks through, how the red rock forms both rounded terraces and also vertical cliffs, how precocious pines sit high among the rocks, how cleaved boulders lay strew or have created a trail of broken rock, and how different environments as the sandstone formed hundred of millions of years ago created different colors and bands.

As one completes the Damifino, the formations to the west across Route 89A loom larger and larger, and one stands among the rock formations on all sides. Stop, don’t hurry, and admire the beauty and the vistas. Also catch the result of the fault that split Wilson Mountain, where the east side slide down relative to the west side. The dark rock cap on the east sit a good distances below that on the west, the result of the faulting and subsequent slippage on the east side.

The loop ends with another crossing of Oak Creek. I crossed both in and out without incident, but needing a good bit of care and precision to pick the proper rocks to use, both those above and below the water line. Falling in wouldn’t be the worst, but would leave one wet, a likely annoying and uncomfortable situation, except maybe in the warm days of mid-summer.

The loop provides magnificent views, allows a traverse of the relatively uncharted span of the Damifino, offers a good dose of solitude, and invigorates but not exhausts with a length of 10 miles and a cumulative elevation gain of several thousand feet.
Geology
Geology
Basaltic Columns
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2 archives
May 07 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Damifino TrailSedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 07 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking1.60 Miles 720 AEG
Hiking1.60 Miles
720 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners

The Damifino Trail, at this writing, continues as an eminently passable and amply scenic passage for the intrepid hiker. The Damifino in Sedona, if you are familiar, branches off the Casner Canyon just after the Casner crosses Oak Creek. The Damifino then runs upward and southeastward through successive sections of low shrubs, open slick rock and finally wooded ledge, to meet the Hangover Trail at a midpoint in that trail.

The Damifino carries an unofficial, and thus unmaintained, status. The trail, evidently developed when the trail system around Sedona grew into somewhat of a mixed menagerie, failed to garner official recognition in the more recent efforts to create a more standard, stable system. So for example, in contrast to Damifino, Hangover Trail operates under official sanction, and Bear Mountain, once poorly marked, now sports sufficiently numerous white painted blazes. But to demonstrate the divide in recognition status, my look shows that no official sanction exists for the trail-of-sorts to the top of Pyramid Mountain southwest of Sedona.

But back to Damifino. The trail remains readily passable, but with a glitch or two. In terms of passability, the trailheads do not hide, with the upper trail head virtually looking one in the face at a switchback in Hangover as that trail passes between two red rock spires, and the lower trail head sits at a reasonably visible long log, laying slated against a tree, a few hundred feet after Casner Canyon crosses Oak Creek. The trail remains distinct, with the familiar compacted soil and rocks, and broken twigs and branches, of traveled trails. And critically, vegetation and underbrush have not in any significant way encroached or hidden trail, and no dead pines or fallen boulders block progress. Past build outs of rocks to create passable ledges appear to still survive. All this despite the trail not receiving ongoing maintenance.

But a few glitches loom. About 0.2 miles into the Damifino at the upper end, a rock fall, or soil slide, has scoured a twenty foot section, leaving a bare, open, slanted slick rock section. Nothing clearly indicates whether a trail ever existed across this bare stretch, but regardless of past history, no trail or even markings point the way. But no worries. At this writing, one can pass this gap by scrambling down a few feet to the bare rock, walking basically straight across, then scrambling back up the other side. Now the trail ends on either side of this opening do not lie exactly straight across from each other. So upon scrambling back up, one will find they one likely did not traverse the open to the trail end on the other side. So one must spy through the low vegetation and then push through this vegetation to regain a spot on the trail.

A second glitch bedevils the hiker, the lack of any trail blazes or cairns. So a GPS track proves helpful, maybe necessary. In the open slick rock section at about 0.4 miles in at the upper end, one might sense one should head down the terraced slick rock quickly, at a good downward angle. Such an approach might work, but the GPS track directs one to stay high and hike around at the same level to the more northern side before descending. Two warning barriers of stone and branches sit on this northern traverse to signal the approximate points to begin switchbacks to descend on the slick rock.
In the low shrub growth below the slick rock, the trail passes alternately through dense shrub and open rock expanse. When in a good number of the open expanses, the entries back to the trail through the shrub do not pop out at one. And the shrub, though only two or three feet high, has grown sufficiently dense to just wing it off-trail. So again a GPS track proves useful, maybe essential.

What GPS tracks? I extracted a track here at Hike Arizona prior to my taking the trail, and that track proved accurate and on point. I uploaded my own track, which matches, closely, the extracted track. Now my route on the slick rock section of Damifino meandered from the HAZ track, but my track does retain what I see as the essential step of rounding high to the more northern side.

As for trail biking, I do not, could not even attempt for fear of injury or permanent disability, attempt that sport, on any trail. But while bikers may in fact now use the Damifino, I don’t see anything but poor effort-reward. The twenty foot rock slide break, while an easy scramble for a hiker, would seemingly require huge and frustrating effort for a biker to stop and hoist a bike up and down to the bare rock, and through the vegetation. Once on the slick rock section, the biker would likely find excellent challenges, but the upper wooded section before that runs just flat and narrow, more pain to traverse by bike than pleasure. And the low shrub area might require stopping, annoyingly, to figure out how to re-enter the trail after each open area. Finally, at the Casner Canyon end, the trail descends via short, sharp switch backs, which again might require dismounts. And then one would need to cross the creek.

However I don’t bike, so these perceptions might prove just misperceptions.

Now back to hiking. I mentioned the scenic wonders. These begin upon exiting the short wooded section when starting at the Hangover end. At that point, we stand on an expansive spread of rounded and terraced slick rock, while above us towers a majestic red rock tower. While maybe not unlike other trails in Sedona, we have arrived in a location few will visit, and though we might have hiked but a moderate distance and height, we can allow ourselves the satisfaction of reaching a spot off the beaten path.

And as we traverse the slick rock, and descend through the shrubs of the lower section, we experience an unobstructed view of the red of Steamboat rock, the grand and towering heights of Wilson Mountain, and beyond that the stately Capital Butte. To our left and right loom rich red formations that we see up and close while others must observe them from the pull offs on Route 179, or across from Thompson trail and the like.

A final note. The Damifino allows an intriguing loop. With the Damifino, we can link the section of Casner Canyon Tail from the Creek up to the Mogollon Rim, to a section of Schnebly Hill Road, then down and around on Munds Wagon, Cows Pies and Hangover, the midpoint of which we pick up Damifino back down to Casner Canyon at the creek.

Enough said, so I will end with a simple note that Damifino remains open and available as a hiking option, a scenic joy, and a linking trail.


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May 06 2018
roaminghiker
avatar

 Routes 23
 Photos 521
 Triplogs 24

65 male
 Joined May 29 2013
 Oakland Gardens,
Bear Mountain Trail #54Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar May 06 2018
roaminghiker
Hiking5.00 Miles 2,100 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles   6 Hrs      0.83 mph
2,100 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Bear Mountain reasonably lives up to its name, i.e. being a bear, aka, difficult, climb. While not exceedingly strenuous or long, the hike can not be consider casual, and could be considered among the more difficult in the Sedona area.

And the trail can pose a deception. From the parking lot, one can not see the actual peak, and thus could judge that the climb only involves summiting the red rock face visible from the lot.

Now the important item. Bear Mountain trail had gained, deservedly, a reputation for being poorly marked, and thus requiring careful navigation. That reputation now stands outmoded. Numerous painted double arrow white blazes now grace the trail. One must remain focused to see them, but they are sufficient in number that one need not fear getting lost.

As with most Sedona hikes, the scenery astounds. For me, the trail offered a good bit more of the “non-red” rock at the upper elevations of Sedona, than trails at lower elevations. White sandstone dominated the second, upper section of the hike, showing heavy and distinct cross-bedding, representing depositions when Sedona experienced desert conditions.
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2 archives
average hiking speed 1.54 mph
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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