Friday, October 22, 2010

lower forty-eight days

It's sometimes hard to set aside enough time to post during a vacation. Especially when out camping and far away from any wifi zone. Jon and I have been in Arizona for just over a week. Riding, camping, driving to the next spot. Seeking singletrack, a decent place to lay our heads and good food & drink to keep us going. So far, it's been a success! (And when we find a hotel with internet access, we can even check in with the world.)

We began just outside Las Vegas, in Boulder City, Nevada.
with a little ride in Bootleg Canyon.

Then we rode a stretch of the AZ Trail that's just south
of the Grand Canyon.
The camping was good, too, if you
ignore the hunters who get up early and fire their first shots
at elk at 6:15...
This lookout tower is used for fire spotting and control. You can
see the north rim of the Grand Canyon from the top!

The day after we rode the trail, just before we packed up, we met a rider coming off the trail. He's been traveling the country and spent some time in Alaska, riding from the North Slope to the Lower-48. His name is Cass and he knows a few people we know... even camped in our friend Alan's back yard in Anchorage! The cycling world is sometimes a very small world.
Cass recommended this other ride on the AZ Trail, just
north of Flagstaff. Yes, it was a beautiful stretch of
singletrack. Even a few sprinkles couldn't ruin this ride!

We spent a few nights camping in the area...

More singletrack, accessed right from Flagstaff. Jon makes the drop.
We found out about this ride from a woman named Linden who works
at Absolute Bikes in Flagstaff.

More of the AZ Trail, Flagstaff.

And, on a whim, we went to Prescott where we rode more trails on recommendations from a couple people in bike shops. Believe me, bike shop people know where the good trails are! And the guys who run this funky motel know where the good food is in Prescott.

Enjoying the last of the sunlight after riding the trails.

Jon relaxes outside The Motor Lodge.

In another few days, we begin an adventure with a group of friends: biking the White Rim Trail. I'll let you know how it goes when we get back.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

eklutna weekend, 2010

Lakeside - we're heading around that bend.

Last weekend, my friends & I made our annual fall trip to Eklutna Lake to spend some time at the Serenity cabin. When we began this tradition a few years ago, it was a one-night trip and maybe a half-dozen of us signed up. It rained as we biked to the cabin and it rained on our return trip. The firewood was limited and what was there was mostly wet. We had a great time.

In 2008, we extended the trip to two nights to give us a chance to spend some time exploring on the non-riding day. We hoped for better weather. More people signed up. After a summer of rain, we had glorious sunshine. Last year we had sunshine too. I'm not even sure if this was our fourth or fifth year, but after that first year, we've been pretty lucky.

This year, we booked the cabin for three nights, giving everyone extra time to hike and to do their own thing: reading, writing, adventuring. The trip has gotten so popular that we had a dozen sign ups before we even sent out the announcement and had a wait list up until a week before the trip! People really look forward to it, and it's not just the wine.

This year, the last weekend of September felt like the last hurrah for sunny weather. By the time we left the cabin to return home on Sunday afternoon, we had a headwind and wet, over-sized snowflakes. In this case, timing was everything.

Fresh dusting of snow on the peak above Eklutna Glacier.
(This is the view from near the front door of the cabin.)

Friday hike. This time of year, the sun only shines on
the upper valley for a few hours each day before slipping
behind the mountain. This made for slippery footing on
the frost- and ice-covered rocks. We did eventually make
it to the sunny zone where some of us contemplated making
a river crossing in the glacial water. Maybe next time.

Meanwhile, back at the cabin...

Corinne's stowaway.

Line 'em up! Mine is the one with the drop bars.
The cabin is about 12 miles from the trailhead.
No electric, no wi-fi or cell service. Just away.

Early Saturday morning, a 5.4 earthquake jolted
many of us awake. Those who didn't initially wake
up did when they heard the shouts: "earthquake!"
coming from the other bunks.

Rock-stacking meditation.

Rocks, Birch & Cabin.
The river changed course since last year, filling
a different channel and leaving the riverbed below
the cabin as a playground of silt and stones.

The Rock art is by Corinne.

Riding home through the burn area with snow falling on the mountains.

My old friend.
This old cottonwood tree survived an avalanche a few
years ago, though it was scarred by the force of the slide.
This year it was burned in the late May fire. Someone drew
a heart in the charred scar. I wonder if it will live. It's a
tough old tree but it can't survive everything
nature and humans throw its way.

(And, yes, that is a big cook pot on my rack, but it was great
to have it at the cabin when cooking for a dozen people!)

Riders returning to the trailhead on the Lakeside Trail.
We met lots of people on ATVs but they were all very friendly.
I even got one "you go, girl!" while navigating a particularly
rocky section.

Wind and snow, but still so beautiful!

Bikes on Bev's car. The snow was worse on the
road than it was on the trail. That's timing.