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Posts tagged ‘Arizona’

Back In The Desert

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On the heels of a nearly six-month hiatus from boon-docking (our preferred style of free camping), late yesterday we arrived to a great spot on public land just in time to catch our first Arizona sunset of the winter season.

Despite our summer and fall travels spent mostly in paid and crowded campgrounds across the Canadian Rockies and US Smokey Mountains, we quickly slid into the set-up routine without missing a beat … I even remembered to orient the rooftop solar panels to tilt facing south.

All is good again.

Big Ride, Big Mishaps, Big Fun

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Naïveté: (noun) lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.

I generally do not think of myself as being naive, but today proved differently.

Having spent the past few days riding trails here in Flagstaff (Arizona), I was keen to complete the “Round the Peaks” loop – an approximately 50 mile loop (+/- depending upon where one starts) circumnavigating the base of Humphrey’s Peak (12,633 ft).  Locals I spoke to – in some form or another – consistently described this loop as being “quintessential Flag”.

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Capturing a variety of terrain, offering stunning views, and presenting challenging climbs and technical downhills, I was told to find time for this ride before departing the area.

I was giddy.

Along a route beginning at 7,174ft elevation and peaking at 9,329ft, originally my thinking was to bike camp the ride, overnighting on the mountain, and in the process, splitting the distance into two reasonable day efforts.

However, because I continue to change my ‘perfect’ bike camp set-up and haven’t actually yet bought any gear, I find myself in a situation pretty much devoid of most necessary bike camping essentials.

No worries, I’ll do long day ride. On the trail early, home by mid-afternoon.

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In hindsight, I can now see that my actions this morning were pretty much naive from the start: 1) allotting only 6 hours for the ride, 2) assuming 2.5 liters of water would suffice, and 3) underestimating the toll 5,100ft of climbing would have on my legs.

I missed the 6 hours by 90 minutes, ran out of water 45 minutes from finishing, and hopelessly suffered from legs that turned into jelly.

And, I broke a spoke.

Despite a day littered with mishaps, I nevertheless had a great (and very long) ride.

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The Eternity Of Five Minutes

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Corpse Pose.  It goes something like this …

“Invite peace and silence into your mind, body, and soul.  Stay in Savasana for five minutes.  To exit the pose, first begin to deepen your breath.  Bring gentle movement and awareness back to your body, wiggling your fingers and toes”.

Yesterday, upon concluding my best efforts to balance, bend, and twist through the practice, my smartphone yoga app again offered me this thoughtful guidance.  And just like always, I struggled with Corpse Pose.

I failed to lie on ground and let my mind completely relax.  I didn’t close my eyes.  I didn’t invite peace or silence into my mind.

Instead, I continued to look high into the sky.

When I should have been taking measures to gradually enter a truly relaxed state, I reached for my iPhone and took the picture above.

Painting the Desert Sky

Because our rig cannot easily sustain continuous high altitude winter conditions, Kelly and I flee to the desert southwest this time of year, biding time until we can again comfortably deal with realities of weather at high altitudes.

Generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of the desert.  Given the choice I will always prefer to spend time in the big mountain regions of the west.

However, anyone who has spent time in the Arizona desert – myself included –  will confirm the sunrises and sunsets are crazy beautiful.  Colors that words cannot adequately describe, paint the sky in a fashion one can only appreciate witnessing firsthand.

If ever in the area, I suggest taking pause to experience these moments for yourself.

Yes, as you awake to catch sunrise, the morning air will be shocking chilly as you step outside.  You’d be surprised how well a warm cup of coffee – steam quietly rising from your cup complements the moment.

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Later in the evening, once you’ve completed all the bullshit that consumed your day, grab a preferred cocktail of choice and once again step outside.

The weather will be pleasant – nicer than it was in the morning, but there will be no denying nightfall is quickly approaching.  Cooler air will soon overtake these last moments of sun and warmth.

Sipping from that drink as you observe all that is happening above, take note how the sky shifts colors from blue, to a swirl of pink and purple, before fading to brilliant fiery orange just as the sun dips below the horizon.

Yes, good stuff.

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The Elusive McDowell Mountain Campground

Following our holiday gathering in the desert, Kelly and I drove back to the Phoenix area  – our destination being McDowell Mountain Regional Park.

We visited once before about 15 months ago, but due to my work travels, I was gone essentially the entire time.  In the process, I was denied any opportunity to ride the highly regarded and vast trail network.

Having missed out previously, I was really excited to be going back.  I love riding before work and with trails so easily accessible, doing so would be easy.  But then – just like before – my work travel schedule changed and less than three hours after unhitching the trailer, I found myself leaving the campground and driving towards the airport.

Once again, I missed the entire week at the park.  No riding for me.  Again.

Arriving back to the campground late Friday night, I did manage to salvage half a day of hiking on Saturday before hitching-up and driving away early Sunday morning.

Someday I will be back and ride these damn trails.  At least I hope so.

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Lost Dutchman State Park

I’ve really come to like this park northeast of Phoenix.
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Out To Lunch

Mountain biking over lunch hour.  I can always eat later.IMG_0958