Mar 31, 2008

Snowbowl & Kachina Peaks - Flagstaff, AZ

No corn harvest yesterday, when Jrock and I braved the elements to ski the excrements.

It was nice to be up on the hill again. After watching a great season of snow fly on bye, I finally got an opportunity to head up Snowbowl – Kachina Peaks for some late season turns. Thanks to Jrock we had a couple lift tickets, so we got a few runs in on the groomers. This allowed me to check my systems to make sure I could still crank a turn or two.

It was tad bit breezy in the resort, and we could the poofy white clouds quickly moving over the ridge above the resort. Even though we knew the wind was honking up there, we could see lotsa blue sky. We also figured that the sun would be loosening up the frozen slopes in the Inner-Basin.

We grabbed our packs, transceivers, shovels and skins from the car, and proceeded to do a little lift assisted accent to the top of the ridge. We did a direct line up the snow filled gully above Snowbowl’s “Logjam Run”. The avi crud on this slope left us with some nice steps and ramps to walk up on. The slope was also super-duper frozen, so we took our time boot packing up; in hopes that temperatures would rise to loosen up this slopes we wanted to rip. It took us about an hour to get up to a major scree path we needed to traverse near the top (low point) of the ridge. The scramble across the rocks left us pretty exposed to the wind, and when we were within about 10 minutes of sitting on top of the ridge (12,000’ level), a major cloud layer moved in. This left us with pretty much no visibility, and the wind was blasting us with a constant 50 to 60 mph winds. I did walk over to the very edge of the ridge to see what the Inner Basin looked like, but the white-out conditions left me a little weary that I might actually be standing on a cornice. So I took a few steps back and said, not today. Jrock and I hid behind a rock from the elements, and I nibbled on my nearly frozen Sonic Burger. The wind sounded like a freight train, so we shouted out our plans for our descent. Directly below us, and between us and the resort was a major rock garden. And I certainly wasn’t into skiing down the frozen mess we walked up. At the time I couldn’t see the snow covered slopes to the north of us on; just below Humphreys.

We ended up scrambling down and to the north a couple of hundred yards to the thin strips of snow, to make our way down. With the cloud layer above us, we strapped on the boards for the crusty ride down. We descended about 1,000 vf on an open slope, before getting into the glades. Now the snow was marginally smoother, but still dangerously frozen. Skiing in survival mode, we clumsily made our way through the trees down to Harts Prairie. I was really relieved to be outta that mess; however, I still had a smile on my face knowing that even rough day on the mountain is still better than the best day on the golf course.

Here's a vid of the day:

And here are some pics taken by Jrock:

Mar 16, 2008

Sedona, AZ - 3/15/08

What a great day in Sedona. I only had a chance to meet up for one AZ Spring Fling ride this year, and this one looked a little doubtful, because I really wasn’t into battling major delays expected on I-17 due to construction. Gas prices were also a little discouraging too.

But I was able to hitch a ride with Paul B.. We rolled into Sedona about 10:00 and gathered with the other riders at the IGA Grocery store Just as we came into town around 10:00, cloud layer moved in, and it was surprisingly chilly. The 17 of us got our act together and took off around 10:30, as we set out on our ride. We headed around Verde Valley School Rd and jumped on the Baldwin Trailhead (just past where the pavement ends) and road that trail around to Cathedral Rock Trail. After rolling on those trails, we crossed the highway and made a run down Mystic (off of Chapel Rd), and then we did another climb up the road to Broken Arrow Trail.

The cloud layer didn’t take long to burn off. Man, I think the media did an awesome job yesterday convincing tourist that the closure of I-17 wasn’t gonna be worth the trek to Sedona. There really wasn’t the normal weekend traffic on the trails.

The trails here really don't have the major climbs you find at most trail systems in AZ, because Sedona is buffeted by Wilderness. The trails offer tons of neato free riding, and some technical riding, but for the most part they are just trails to ride. The draw for me is the amazing views around the Sedona. Places the tourist, just won't see can easily be accessed on Mountain Bike.

Anycow, here's vid of the day:

Here's a pick, Ramshackle took of me riding the slick rock!
AHosted on Fotki

Mar 13, 2008

Horseback Riding - South Mountain (Phoenix)

It was a beautiful morning, and it was my wife's Birthday, so we headed around to the other side of South Mountain for a little horseback tour with Ponderosa Stables. We showed up about 9:30, but the it took us until about 11:00. It was really busy, but it was pretty chill.

My wife's ridden a bunch, but I had only been on a horse once, and that was well over 20 years ago. I had Beavis and she had Guinness, and we were at the end of the line of nearly a dozen other riders.

The tour tromped us around the little sandy trails I wouldn't be caught dead biking on or walking on either. But on a horse it was pretty kewl. We gotta see the really neat rock formations and saguaro cactus with out all the effort. We did see a roadrunner, but other than that no other wildlife. No galloping, just a bunch of dust.

Here's a short vid of the ride:

Mar 8, 2008

Alta: South Mountain - Phoenix

Six of us met up at San Juan Lookout in South Mountain Park (the gate was is open on the weekends during the month of March), for a little gnar on Alta. We set out at 8:30 on the tame section of National (about 2 miles???) until we intersected back in with San Juan road. From there we continued on the east side of the ridge, per the road, to the Alta Trailhead.

The climb up was pretty brutal, but went surprisingly fast. Not to much pain. There was a little cloud cover in the morning, so it felt a little humid. Any excuse to explain why I was sweating.

Pretty amazing trail though, both because of the the views and technical skills it requires.

Steep pitches, big time exposed ledges, loose rocks the come outta no where, and wicked switchbacks.

Superstition and Poiboy ruled the day with their downhill skills, those dudes can ride.

I actually had two over-the-handlebar crashes, that left me riding away, saying "how'd that happen???". It's not like I wasn't nailing sections fifty times more technical, compared to what was putting me down on these OTBs.

Anycow, here's a vid of the day: