Sunday, September 26, 2021

Hiking the Dells at Watson Lake, AZ…


One of the most intriguing trails we were interested in undertaking was the Watson Lake and Flume Trail. One challenge was that it is a a 4 to 5 mile moderate loop trail near Prescott. The biggest challenge was that we were still experiencing occasional monsoonal showers. Therefore we decided we would just hike part of the trail with an eye on the weather.


We pulled into the Overlook Parking Lot and were expecting to pay a parking fee but this park had no fee associated with it. We started down the hill from the overlook and in a short distance we were at a little county park.


While we aren’t normally happy to see a concession stand during our hike we were this time because we had forgotten most of water for the hike. We happily bought some additional water to allow us to hike further than we would have been able to with our limited water supply.


The trail then continued along a relatively flat section alongside the lake. Lake Watson is s large and scenic so the lake views along this stretch of trail were spectacular. It was also a treat to see lots of late season wildflowers in bloom as we made our way down the trail.


Continuing on the trail while enjoying gorgeous views of the lake the vegetation got thicker and the trail rockier. Soon we were on mostly solid granite and the trail was marked by faint white dots painted on the rock. It was a bit of a challenge locating the dots but we were glad they were there as we sometimes found we had wandered off the path.


Soon we were doing a lot of climbing around the rocks and up some steep parts which were somewhat overgrown with vegetation. It was a very hot day and we were taking water breaks a lot as there were many parts of the trail without shade. Yet we found this was where the really scenic part of the trail begins.


We were now in rolling granite dells. What is a a dell? Simply put a dell is a geographic name for a small secluded hollow. The dells are super cool and somewhat otherworldly. We found ourselves many times in small hidden coves with reflections of sky, water and stone. Fabulous!


We noticed rains had begun just south of us so we headed back and when we got back to the car we had hiked about 2.5 miles but man, oh, man what a beautiful place this was…

NOTE:  We are currently in Mesa, Arizona until November 1st…

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Hike to Cathedral Rock and Exploring Sedona AZ…


Another hike we had in mind to do while in Sedona was Cathedral Rock as it is one of the sites that are known as vortexes. What is a vortex? It is a place known for its centers of energy conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. Sharon and I wanted to experience one of these hikes.


As I mentioned before parking is always a challenge at Sedona trailheads where if you are lucky enough to find a spot you can purchase a daily pass for all Sedona trails for $5.00.  However we have the Senior Lifetime Pass and it along with the America the Beautiful annual pass can be used as well.


Cathedral Rock towers over the surrounding landscape within the Coconino National Forest. The trail itself is about 1.5 miles round trip which isn’t very long, but the nearly 750 ft. of elevation gain makes it a moderately difficult hike. I read about the hike and thought Sharon might be able to do this one even though there would be some height related challenges.


The trail started off easy as we walked along a sandy bottomed trail which eventually gave way to a rocky trail. We were in a scattered forest of ponderosa pines and white fir. As we began to climb we could easily see where we needed to go because of the large basket cairns marking the trail.


As we continued we came to a large crevasse in the rock we had to scramble up. We got through a few of these with me inspiring Sharon that “she had this” as we continued upward. Well that all ended when we came to a section of the trail that required near vertical climbing along a crack in the rock some 40 to 50 feet straight up. Sharon decided that this hurdle was a deal breaker for her. She encouraged me to finish saying she would soak in the sights while she waited.


With Sharon waiting below I headed on up the crack in the rock and continued hiking steadily upward until I hit the final steep rocky ascent to the saddle. Once atop the saddle the views of the expanse below including parts of Sedona were in clear view. What an amazing view it was! There were some rocky outcrops at the saddle which may have been climbable but were beyond my skills so I headed back down to find Sharon.


Reunited we headed back down the trail and talked about the vortices in the area. While neither of us experienced anything out of the normal we both agreed that the beauty of this area warranted it as worthwhile hike to undertake. They recommend doing this as a sunset hike but I am not too sure the hike down would be pleasant without full light of day to go down.


On the way back we stopped to see Bell Rock which is known as another one of the vortex sites. We hiked partway up the trail but it was already too hot to finish this hike especially after doing the one earlier.We snapped a few photos and headed back home happy with the memories of beautiful Sedona Arizona.


NOTE:  We are currently in Mesa, Arizona until November 1st…

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hiking the Fay Canyon Trail, AZ…


Staying close to Sedona AZ we planned a few hikes but would have to do so between monsoonal rain events. One trail we wanted to hike was the Fay Canyon Trail. However hiking in a canyon meant making sure it would not rain and one day the forecast was favorable so we headed to Sedona.


The Fay Canyon Trail is about 2.6 miles roundtrip on an in and out trail with modest elevational change. It was going to be a warm day so we were glad to find this somewhat shorter hike through the red rock country of Sedona AZ.


Once we arrived at the trailhead parking lot we were pleased to see this lot didn’t charge a parking fee. Several lots do charge a fee but we later found out that we could use our Senior Lifetime Pass in many of the lots to park for free. We parked and donned our boots making sure to pack plenty of water.



Looking for trails in the area I came across this quote: “Fay Canyon is a hidden gem. The Fay Canyon Trail is an easy, scenic hike that takes you through this lesser-known Sedona canyon. You won't see majestic open views like those of Bell Rock, but you will find gorgeous views, without the crowds.”


There were quite a few cars in the parking lot so we assumed we might see more people than we had planned but as it turned there are many different trails from the parking lot so we only encountered a few other hikers on our trail.


The trail is a mix of having some sandy parts along with mostly rocky spots. We found ourselves hiking in and out of the drainage since thee was still some standing water from recent rains. As we were hiking I was keeping an eye out for escape routes from the canyon should the weather suddenly change.. Fortunately storms weren’t an issue on this day.


About halfway through the hike there was a reported natural arch we somehow missed on the way in. The hike was a steady uphill trek which ended abruptly but there were several areas where adventurous souls continued by rock scrambling up the steep slopes. We chose to stay and enjoy a light snack while taking in the views.


One nice thing about canyon hikes that are in and then out is that the views are strikingly different on the return hike. We were also fortunate to spy the natural arch and stop to enjoy its beauty. All in all this is a nice hike to see magnificent red cliffs ,an arch and some interesting pinnacles. Even though it was hot this day we were able to find an occasional remnant of shade and once back to the car we were glad we were done as it sure was getting hotter…

NOTE:  We are currently in Mesa, Arizona until November 1st…

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Visiting Three Cool National Monuments


It became time for us to leave Winslow AZ so we moved to  Krazy K RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ which has a very favorable senior rate. We hoped to explore several small National Monuments and do some hiking in Sedona during this stay. The campground is rather nice with a small pool and hot tub along with a fitness room which I was sure we would take advantage of.3

There are three National Monuments close by and the first we visited was Montezuma's Castle. Using our Senior Lifetime Parks Pass we entered the visitor center which also houses a small museum with some interesting exhibits. Leaving the museum there’s a short paved nature trail leading to the ruins situated beside Beaver creek.


The ruins are one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the southwest. They were built into a limestone cliff and are five stories tall with 20 separate rooms. It was definitely one of the most magnificent preserved structures we have ever seen before.


The people who built Montezuma Castle are referred to as the Sinagua, which originates from Spanish words meaning “without water” likely referring the paucity of water in the area. They are believed to be ancestors of the Pueblo of Arizona and built this structure some 800 years ago. Until the 1950’s visitors could climb up to it via ladders which is now forbidden.


Next up for us would be Montezuma Well National Monument. The “well” is actually a natural spring located within a ‘‘sinkhole.’’The spring produces upwards to 1.5 million gallons of 64-77 degrees water daily. It breaks to the surface because of a volcanic dike which formed a dam across a fracture zone deep beneath the surface.


Montezuma Well is 368 feet across and more than 55 feet deep. It drains underground into Beaver Creek, a tributary of the Verde River. Interestingly though is that this water also is relatively high in concentration of arsenic.It makes one wonder if the arsenic in the water may have led to the demise of the people who depended on the spring.


Lastly we visited  Tuzigoot National Monument. Around 1400 years ago the Sinagua people arrived in the greater Verde Valley.Like the ruins in Montezuma Well they also built Tuzigoot on a hilltop overlooking the valley.The area was only inhabited an estimated 100 years and in the 1930’s it became a National Monument.


The ruins are somewhat preserved yet well enough that one can get the feel for what it might have been like to be an inhabitant of the village. There was also a trail leading to a huge freshwater marsh that is merely a remnant or oxbow of Beaver Creek. All along the trail there were an abundance of wildflowers and seemingly even more butterflies. It was a hot and exposed trail but an enjoyable little hike nonetheless.


NOTE:  We are currently in Mesa, Arizona until November 1st…

Monday, September 6, 2021

Standing on the Corner…


Since we were staying at the local RV park called Take it Easy we surely couldn’t leave the area without visiting downtown Winslow to of course stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona.


When the Eagles first decided to sing "Take it Easy" in a 1970’s rock song they probably had no idea this lyric snippet would launch a big tourism industry in sleepy Winslow Arizona. As a result the town created "Standin' on the Corner" Park where Eagles fans can stand beside a life-size statue of a cool dude with a guitar. Also parked  nearby is the iconic "flatbed Ford" along with an eagle perched in a windowsill. There are estimates that over 100,000 people stop by every year to stand on the corner.  We enjoyed the park and happily took several photos to commemorate our visit.


Besides standing on the corner in Winslow we also had some other sights to see. One was the Apache Death Cove. Back in 1878 Apache raiders attacked a Navajo encampment near the Little Colorado river where every Navajo man, woman, and child were killed in the raid except for three little girls whom they kidnapped.The story about the revenge visited upon the 42 Apache men can be found here. Chilling!


At the same location is Two Guns, originally known as Canyon Lodge, which began as a small trading post in the 1800’s. By the 1920’s this area became popular with those touring on Route 66 when the trading post became known as Two Guns. The history of Two Guns can be found here. The remnants of this once bustling tourist attraction were fun to poke around in.


We also drove out to see the miniature painted desert and if it hadn’t been so hot we would have enjoyed a short hike in amongst the eroded hills. One last spot we planned to stop at was the Arizona Meteor Crater. This sounded like an interesting place to check out but when I read it would be $22.00 per person to basically view a large indentation in the ground, I decided we could get about the same thrill looking through our binoculars at the full moon.


That wraps up our stay in WInslow as it became time to move on down the road…PXL_20210818_222745671

NOTE:  We are currently in Mesa, Arizona until November 1st…