Monday, October 30, 2017

Oak Creek Valley

Up in the valley

Not ready to return to the heat of the city, we were able to book some days at the Cave Springs a USFS campground north of Sedona along Oak Creek for the week. Sedona is a
beautiful but congested area even during the week.  Once through town, the traffic really did not improve as the road narrowed and became more winding.
Of course, a picture of Bell Rock is required as we enter the canyon from the south. The north route has hairpin turns and steep ledges from the south is the way to go for us.

View from our campsite
 The temperatures were 10 degrees cooler in the canyon. Sedona was also experiencing higher than normal temps. The leaves were at their peak fall colors. Nothing to compare to New England but very nice for Arizona. It was good to hear the crunch of the fallen leaves as we walked along the cliffs.

  West Oak Creek Trail is said to be one of the most visited trails in Arizona. As we drove by the trailhead, the parking lot was full and cars were parked along both sides of the road for 1/4 of a mile. The gate opens at 8am and the cost is $10 a car. The next morning we happened to be up early and decided check out the trail. A camp host had mentioned that there were three parking spots outside of the gate that allowed access before the gates opened. We arrived at 7:15, got the third parking spot and paid our $10 to hike.

Approximately 11 miles from Uptown, the West Fork Trail parking lot is on the left. There’s a Call of the Canyon sign post evoking memories of Zane Grey’s famous western of the same name and the time of a different era. Grey is said to have written the novel in one of the historic cabins that eventually evolved into the Mayhew Oak Creek Lodge and the 1923 movie was filmed here.

 The  fall leaves were past peak but still quite nice. The trail is an 6 mile round trip of rolling hills along the creek. The temps were in the low 50s as we started out with only an occasional person on the trail. As we were returning, the closer to the end we got, the more people we came across. On our return, we met a very nice couple from North Carolina that walked with us and had a nice to visit that made the miles pass quickly. Hi Jim and Susan!
The trail is three fairly flat miles one way with 13 creek crossings.

Most of the pictures were taken pointing up at the walls of the canyon.

Most of the pictures were taken pointing up at the walls of the canyon.

 I am not sure if we would hike this trail again with so many trails to choose but were glad to spend a morning in the canyon. It was good to sit in our recliners after the hike and read as the wind blew leaves from the trees. We would wake after dozing off and be covered with leaves. You have to admit, a good book and a nap after a hike is just a great day.

We were dry camping this week, using our solar panels, which are not very big, to keep our batteries charged. It worked great in Prescott since we had sunshine all day. In Oak Valley, the sun was not shining on our site until after 9 am and down by 4 pm in a very shaded spot also. We woke one morning to the sound of our furnace sounding funky and realized the batteries were dying. Using the truck for a charge, we managed to get the slide in. Mike used a ratchet to lift the hitch so we could load up and return to Mesa a day early. It would have been good to stay one more day. With temps in the 30s at night, our charge probably wouldn't make it until midnight. Yes, I am a wimp and like at least a few amenities like electricity and heat.

After a month in one place, it was good to get away for a week in some places we haven't visited before.  We are enjoying our friends and new acquaintances at Val Vista Resort and think it is a pretty good place to stay for a while.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Lynx Lake

Escaping the heat

Temperatures in Phoenix continue to rise every year with new highs due to the daytime heat being held by the steel in the buildings and black asphalt as the city and surrounding areas continue to grow. The average temps are usually 88 degrees in October and we were in the upper 90s. The city is looking at using baby blue paint to reduce the heat absorption and temperatures  Listening to the air conditioner all day can be wearing. A few days were cool enough for an early morning bike ride or game of pickeball.

After finishing my online learning requirements to return to work, my required four shifts at the hospital for the month and taken care of our appointments, we headed for the cooler temps in the hills. The campgrounds in the national forest close at the end of the month. Lynx Lake near Prescott had one site open over the weekend and figured what the heck and booked it.
 We had spent a little time in the Prescott area but had not been to Lynx Lake. Each loop in the campground is small with only four sites but  plenty of room for privacy. The trail around the lake was an easy 3.5 miles and so many other trails to choose from that are mostly moderate.

Our previous visits, we enjoyed the Granit Dells areas including Watson and Willow Lakes. You can read about those visits by clicking here.

The trail to the  Nature Conservancy that has a large area protected for the migrating butterflies was another morning walk that had plenty to enjoy.
The air felt like fall and leaves were changing at 5000 feet above sea level. We could sit outside after the sun went down next to our little fire and look at the stars. The nights got into the 30s but our solar panel kept the battery fully charged.

One evening Mike was sitting by the fire and he saw something move out of the corner of his eye. He soon realized that it was a skunk. Mike stood up and the skunk turned around and raised his tail. Fortunately, they called d├ętente and both walked away from each other. Mike moved faster and stumbled up the steps unscathed.
Our last morning we walked 1 1/2 miles to the Ruins Trailhead. The round trip to the ruins was 1 1/2 miles but along the way, I realized that I  took a wrong turn when my pedometer said we had walked 1 1/2 miles since the trailhead and we hadn't reached the ruins. Oops!

Looks like Halloween now that the tarantulas are out.

We were so glad to spend the time in the mountains but were not ready to return home yet.

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...