Archive for August, 2009

Time Grows Short

Living at 7000 ft in Arizona has some advantages. The first is that we have four seasons, which is somewhat of a rarity in Arizona. It is the cycle of the seasons that bring on urgency when your a cacher, the urgency to grab the caches that you know will be tough to get to when the snow arrives. We are feeling this urgency every morning as the Hkrs walk to work/school and the air turns cooler with the chill of the upcoming fall.

We have been trying to grab most of the caches lately that are above 8000 ft as we know that the snow has a tendency to stick and stay for most of the winter. We have also been placing caches above this altitude so that they will be ready for the quick fall season and then lie in their winter dormancy for the winter months. We place only ammo cans at these elevations as plastic has a tendency to not survive such brutal abuse. We have two more caches that we want to place at these higher elevations before it becomes to late.

The forests around Flagstaff are usually passable in the Potbellied_Pig until late November. We love traveling in the forest during this time of year as it is quiet and we seem to have it all to ourselves. Yes there is hunting going on occasionally but it is generally locals after opening day and they are always quick with a tow strap if the roads become to muddy. We also always pack some blankets and food in case we become stuck in such a harsh environment. 10°F nights are not unheard of at all and survival in such conditions are only possible if you are prepared.

What we really love looking forward to is our caching in the Verde Valley. The beauty of this area is it’s close proximity to Flagstaff, AZ. With only a 45 minute drive we have dropped over 3,000 ft and gained usually 20+ degrees in temperature increase. We can run around in our T Shirts again and do not have to fear the buzz worms that frequent the valley in the summer months.

The Verde Valley also has a very active geocaching community. There are hundreds of caches located in the region. We can spend all fall/winter in the area and still not grab most of them. Yes quite a few are of the Micro variety, but there are also quality family caches to add to your trophy case as well.

Since it isn’t tourist season in the Verde, we generally have most hikes to ourselves or shared with other Flagstaffians that come down to enjoy the warmth. With the sun lower on the horizon the red rocks of Sedona take on a beautiful glow that is impossible to explain, it must be experienced. We begrudgingly purchase a yearly pass to park at the trail heads every year and display it to avoid any fines. We don’t think you should have to pay to park and enjoy your forests as we have already been taxed for this. It just seems like a way to bilk the population out of more funds.

The best part is that in the fall and winter there are no 100° temps in the Verde, but occasional 70° temps, more our type of hiking weather. You can put more clothing on and layer but you can only take so many off without risking arrest. Learned that one years ago in Lake Havasu City, AZ.

We start taking occasional trips to the Valley of the Sun, or to Arizona’s West Coast and visit family. Winter is not a bad time for geocaching near Flagstaff, AZ. One just has to drive a little farther to enjoy year-round caching enjoyment.

Watch our future posts for more of our adventures in the Verde Valley. We hope to be able to convey to our followers how lucky the Hkrs really are to be living where they do. Winter doesn’t have to hamper a geocacher in Arizona. A geocacher here must just learn to adapt to their environment and change their preparedness just a little to still enjoy the outdoors.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

Seven Hours of Father Son Time is Priceless

There was a time when I used to go out by myself, before my caching partner came, and I would pick up 15 to 25 caches in a day. Part of the reason for this was that when I started Geocaching there were many caches to be found in my area. As the years have rolled by, almost five years in total, the number of available finds for the Hkrs around Flagstaff decreased to a trickle. The Hkrs have let the local caches build up in the last year so that we can go and grab a cache within a 20 mile radius again. Sunday we did just that.

Flagstaff, AZ is blessed with forest access and beautiful summers. We took advantage of this and accessed the local trail system. We decided to grab just four caches today. All four of these caches are located in an area called the Dry Lake Hills. This is a depression left when a lava dome was built up under the soil. It raised up the earth above it some 1000 ft. Eventually the overlying soil was eroded away and we were left with the forested hills just to the North of Flagstaff. During the whole experience we were never more than 4 miles from our home.

This is Johnny strollong down the Sunset Trail on our way to the Brookbank Trail and Cache

This is Johnny strolling down the Sunset Trail on our way to the Brookbank Trail and Cache

We arrived at the Sunset trail head at close to 900 hrs and started up the hill. We made it to the top of Sunset Trail #23 within an hour and a half as we always have a tendency to just check things out. Shortly after the trail tops out it swings downhill until it meets up with the Brookbank Trail #2. Our first cache was on this trail. It was called Brookbank Trail surprisingly and was a pretty easy find. We rested here for a while as mountain bikers whizzed past us not even seeing us sitting near the cache location. We drank some water and headed out again.

Brookbank Trail Map

Brookbank Trail swings around a hill and then it is up hill again before it heads downhill one last time towards Elden Lookout Rd. We jumped off on the West side of the nob and followed a trail that led us down into the depressions that are known as the Dry Lakes. There are times in the spring when there is water here and sometimes after a good monsoon rain the lakes will fill up as well. In the spring the area is full of wild flowers.

This is the old road that leads through the Dry Lake Hills

This is the old road that leads through the Dry Lake Hills

We walked halfway through this area past the first lake to an overlook. It overlooks our home and work and school. We kicked back here in the shade for at least a half hour eating our lunch and drinking more water. The whole time we ate we were only 250 ft away from our second cache, Dry Lake Hills. The beauty of this location is that my daughter and I had lunch here close to 10 yrs ago when we first moved up to the area. I had talked her into going for a hike and we had lunch in the same place. Times and the company changed but the view and area were just the same. Johnny thought it was neat that I had been here before with his sister.

An old grove of Aspens

An old grove of Aspens

We grabbed the Dry Lake Hills cache which required bushwhacking. This is the type of geocaching we enjoy. We love to be in the forest with the feeling of no one being around. There are no trails to follow except game trails. For those not familiar with bushwhacking, you generally look for trails that deer or elk use to travel through the forest. Animals have a tendency to use as little energy as possible to get from point A to B. A 500 lb elk leaves a very easy to follow path where the undergrowth has been trampled already, making forest travel much easier.

Johnny found this cache and then we bushwhacked our way to Celtic Ridge. We followed game trails the whole way to a rather tangled mess of tree trunks and branches. I found this one and then off to the last cache of the day. This was 500m of bushwhacking and down a rather steep grade. From this location we were able to see the beginnings of the Taylor Fire that had started the night before. It looked enormous already and was throwing up a bunch of smoke and ash.

This is the Taylor Fire Smoke and ash after only 12 hrs of burning. Forests on fire are a fearful site.

This is the Taylor Fire. Smoke and ash is clearly seen after only 12 hrs of burning. Forests on fire are a fearful site.

Now it was back to the Pot_Bellied Pig. Three  miles later we were sitting in the Pig and unwrapping tootsie pop suckers and cold drinks. Some cold Gatorade for Johnny and my traditional post hike Quart of Buttermilk. We rolled home and cleaned up and had a nice dinner with the family, my daughter even came over with her boyfriend. After dinner and when everything died down I looked at the track-log on the GPSr. It read a little over 10 miles. We were tired and now I knew why. It was a great day though with lots of exploration and father son time.

7 hrs of Father/Son time ... Priceless

7 hrs of Father/Son time ... Priceless

Seven hours to do four quality geocaches? If we had our way all our geocaching would be just like today.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

August 12 of 12

First off folks, sorry about last week. I flaked out and didn’t even remember that I was going to post on Thursdays. I was jostled to reality today when I realized it was the 12 of 12 for August and that I could post this on Thursday.

So here we go.

Benchmark in the Old Train Station

After 1000hr feeding I took the the Kids downtown to do some tourist stuff. Flagstaff is a tourist town, there is no doubt about it. So we walked around till lunch looking for Waymarks that others had posted here. This is a Benchmark in an old train station that are offices now.

Dreaming Cowgirl Mural

Dreaming Cowgirl Mural

Flagstaff is full of Murals. I never really realized it but this is a very artistic town. The landscape of the area does it to people and draws them here. We don’t at all mind as it makes our town rather unique.

Mural commerating George L. Mancuso, one of the greatest photographers of the Grand Canyon

Mural commerating George L. Mancuso, one of the greatest photographers of the Grand Canyon

This is a tragic story captured in a mural. George L. Mancuso was one of the best photographers of the Grand Canyon. He would go off for weeks with food and his camera gear. It was a great loss when he died. The story is explained here.

The Gandy Dancer

The Gandy Dancer

We also have sculpture. Town is crawling with the stuff. This is a piece that commemorates Flagstaff’s connection to the outside world via the railroad. Without it this town would have never been a hub of activity here in Northern Arizona.

Frontier Adventure

Frontier Adventure

Another sculpture by city hall that depicts a mountain man. It was they who showed, helped, and direct the Army parties through his land showing them the water holes and good pasture for their stock. Without their knowledge that they gained from the Native Americans it would have been many more years before Eastern Whites came to this region of the continent.

In the Eagles Talons

In the Eagles Talons

Of course John had to get up on this. He liked this the most as it showed an eagle swooping down on a poor little defenseless lamb laying below. Oh the brutality.

Church Marker

Church Marker

We live in an old town too. Not old by Eastern US standards, but for the West 135 yrs is a long time. This church is the oldest in town started in 1891. Used by the Whites and then when they were done given to the local Mexican population to worship in 1927. This side of town was the shadier side for sure. It of course, is our favorite.

Oldest Stone Church

Oldest Stone Church

Yes the whites moved to the other side of the tracks and built this large stone Gothic style church out of locally quarried sandstone. This corner stone was laid in 1906. Because this church also has a plaque that isn’t a waymark yet, we submitted it for approval today when we made it back home.

Peace Pole

Peace Pole

This is one of many Peace Poles in town. It states, “May Peace Prevail on Earth”. A nice thought for sure. We sent this to Waymarking for approval as well. We had a busy morning for sure. We stopped for lunch and some oat soda after this.

War Memorial

War Memorial

This is our towns War Memorial. It goes way back to the Spanish American war and has a few of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders on it. The latest name is of a Police Officer who was called back to service in Afghanistan. He was laid to rest three weeks ago and his name is now etched on here as well.

Now the New Waymark Submission Work

Now the New Waymark Submission Work

So we came home and put the baby to bed for her nap. She was wonderful by the way. I would share more pics of her but she is not yet ours to share, state rule I guess. Anyway opening up Mapsource so I can find the coordinates for all or new Waymark submissions today. I believe we did over 10 submissions. I think we found close to 13 waymarks as well.

Giant Burro

Giant Burro

My daughter and her boyfriend just moved into a new apartment. They invited the family over for dinner. She made a big burrito. I believe the pan is a 9 X 12. It fed all 5 of us and I am sure they had left overs. It was cool seeing her so happy in their new pad.

Well that is it for us this week. Hope you enjoyed our little Waymarking day.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

New Posting Day

We have decided upon further review to post or blog on Thursdays. Sunday Nights, Monday morning are just to hectic after an all day Sunday run about. For those expecting a blog today, we apologize.

We will be back Thursday with some new content.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs