Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Exploration

The spring house at Veit Springs - one of the most beautiful sights in the Flagstaff area.


What a great four day weekend that was! I took it easy on Friday and Sunday but the other two days featured explorations.

Ancient pictograph at Veit Springs.


First up I led a hike at Veit Springs to view petroglyphs and generally enjoy spring in the high country. It was beautiful, though windy. We wandered off official trail to seek more mileage and got a bit lost, but we certainly got to see some forest that few other hikers see.

Skunk Canyon features some desert vegetation in the sunny areas.


On Monday I went out for a mountain bike ride into Skunk Canyon. I've hiked it before, but had never bicycled in, and I wanted to see how it linked up with some of the other approaches to Fisher Point. The canyon is a broad, sunny place that gradually heads downhill. I didn't start from the usual point, but the alternate route that I used from a small parking area on Lake Mary Road is a good beginning. It adds a little distance.

Skunk Canyon narrows.


The canyon narrows down in a couple of places and finally constricts to single track in a true stream bed, albeit usually dry. The vegetation ranges from semi-desert grassland to alpine species in the shady, steep-sided areas. Unfortunately the double track braids into true single track, split between a high road and a low road, and I chose wrongly. The high road was a little too difficult and risky for a solo rider of my low skill and I ended up doing hike-a-bike for a few minutes.

Fortunately, it didn't last too long, and Skunk Canyon opens up again shortly before the old tracks intersect with the Arizona Trail. From there I followed the AZ Trail over to Fisher Point. I decided not to ascend the short connector to the top, having done it before, but I did visit the cave at the foot of the promontory. It's one of the most beautiful spots in the Flagstaff region.

Fisher Point - another of the most beautiful places around Flagstaff.


I'm such a lackadaisical mountain biker that, as usual, I forgot to stop my watch as I walked around rubbernecking and taking photos. This habit causes me to register slow times. It's slightly embarrassing but I'm not a competitive person and I guess nobody really cares how fast or slow I am. Mostly I don't either. I compare my times and speeds only to my previous times and speeds. It's a good way to judge my fitness, but I tend not to pay attention to how fast other people are.

After visiting Fisher Point, I rode Walnut Canyon "upstream" to the junction with the Sandys Canyon trail, which turned into a beat down of hike-a-bike. There are bicyclists capable of riding up Sandys Canyon but I am not one, lacking both the technical skill and shear power to achieve it. I've pushed a bicycle up the trail before on an out-and-back so I knew what was coming but it was still unpleasant. I've done worse hike-a-bike a few times so by my very low standards it was acceptable though not fun. I was pleased that it didn't destroy me. I recovered quickly and resumed riding.

From the top, rather than going straight over to Lake Mary Road, I decided to follow some unmarked trail that headed in the right direction, but it didn't entirely work out. I ended up riding out into a neighborhood, probably over private land, although nothing was marked. The short road system still delivered me to Lake Mary Road and somewhat to my dismay, I realized that there were still a couple of miles of rolling hills to climb over to get back to my car.

It was a good workout, though the track from my Garmin watch seems to have understated the amount of elevation change. I'm unsure if it was literally inaccurate or if it is just that the route is deceptively difficult. In this case, you start on a plateau, drop down into a series of canyons, then must climb back out. But even after climbing back out, you have to deal with the long paved climbs on Lake Mary Road. Strava says it was a mere 594 feet of elevation gain, but that feels like an understatement. It's a rugged, difficult route that included inefficient pedaling on sandy trail in addition to the technical hike-a-bike.

I really enjoyed the ride. It was a fun day!


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Presage

Sprinkles on the sidewalk for the first time in weeks.


Much to everyone's surprise, we got a few sprinkles earlier this week. May is a difficult month for precipitation in Flagstaff, but the month is sometimes punctuated by a few showers. It was lucky, but not abundant. It was just enough to raise the scent of rain. God willing, it precedes an abundant, or at least adequate season of the North American Monsoon.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

May In Flagstaff



It's spring in Flagstaff and our world has become beautiful, and but for some windy days, it's perfect here. We hired a new programmer for the team at work and there is hope of reducing the proportion of my time on call and that means I should be able to enjoy more time outdoors on weekends.

Anyway, May has Memorial Day and I will have a couple of days off for the holiday, meaning a four day weekend. I feel a little guilty about celebrating on such a somber day, but on the other hand there is little enough time off for those of us who spend our lives as employees. I'm probably overthinking things again - that's what I meant in my previous post that my mind tends to numb itself.

Maybe some future generation will figure out how to allow people to live without arranging their entire lives around work?

Friday, May 20, 2022

Mind Numbing

 

My old girl Zelda during happier and healthier times. She looks healthy and bushy in this photo from 2018. Lately she's looking pretty skinny and it isn't healthy. We only have so much time on our personal clocks and her's is running out.

Life can be mind-numbing. I think the reason I haven't blogged much lately is because my mind numbed itself to normal interactions with the world. I've been pretty busy with work and other things and my brain went into a near-vegetative state after work every day for the last few weeks.

One of the "other things" is that my oldest cat had her required annual veterinary appointment, legally required to renew her medication. Unfortunately her kidney disease has progressed and she has lost yet more weight. I think we are probably in the last year of her life. It's sad, yet most days she acts normal and even gallops around the house and yard sometimes. It's just that she keeps getting skinnier.

As usual, the vet appointment caused the worst day she's had since the last vet appointment. I sometimes think vets (and human doctors) don't realize just how negative the process of diagnosis and treatment can be. By the end of the day, she lay sprawled and exhausted in an unnatural position, even for a cat. The treatment is often worse than the disease.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Roxy Music

 


I discovered Roxy Music this week. It's a band I had heard of but never paid attention to. They were on the charts a little before my time, but several of their tracks are familiar, and a couple of them are wonderful. You hear them as background music and on movie soundtracks. Some of the earlier material sounds like an inferior copy of David Bowie, but they really hit their stride starting around 1978 and it got better.

It kind of sounds like the lead singer, Bryan Ferry, is somewhat of an icon in the UK, not only of music but also fashion and art. He's not that famous in the USA.