Tuesday, May 11
I finished hiking the section of the Four Corners Loop that travels from Forest Lakes Arizona to Flagstaff Arizona. It’s total distance of 147 miles. The number 147 surprises me because for the first three days West of Forest Lakes I was basically following a trail called the Highline Trail. The Highline Trail was a circuitous trail that winds it all over the place and had no intent in guiding me in a straight forward direction. I was wondering if I was ever going to make the Arizona Trail because this trail just wound all over the place. At least there was plenty of water. This would be an absolutely fun trail for a mountain bike rider who wanted to zoom left and zoom right, but for somebody who eventually wants to make it back to Santa Fe New Mexico I was thinking, I really did not map the details such as curves and switchbacks for this trail enough granularity. Instead of what I thought would be 145 miles of walking from town to town, I thought I was going to end up walking 170 miles it felt. So, I’m surprised that my measure distance of 147 miles is only 2 miles greater than my measured distance on the SARTopo mapping software I used. For distance measurement I am using my iPhone pedometer this summer. It’s the only tool I have so it’s the data that I’m accepting. I always feel that the iPhone distance measurements are a little bit short so maybe this explains why my iPhone says I only walked 147 miles and maybe I actually did walk more.
The Highline Trail was truly special, the trail did fall apart in the middle due to a fire called the Dude fire that burned in 1990. The trail was severely affected and the topsoil has worn away leaving nothing but ankle twisting stones. After miles of stone hopping I eventually arrived at the Arizona trail below the Mongollon Rim where a beautiful stream flowed with fresh chlorophyll filled leaves filtered the light from above. The long rest replenish weary body from three days of winding. I was watered, my stomach was full with food, then proceeded to climb up in the heat of the day under the cover of Ponderosa Pine trees to reach the high leading edge of the Mogollon in Rim again.
Later in the day I encountered volunteers installing a sign for the Arizona Trail. They said there was a female hiker in front of me who went by the trail name “Snot Rocket”. This seems like a typical trail name quickly given after watching one action, but I never did meet snot rocket or any of the other reported hikers in front of me.
My sister Kelli her husband Eric join me from Phoenix for on-again, off-again hiking along the Arizona Trail. For four days we hiked between 14 to 21 miles each day as one-off them shuttled their vehicle to the next meeting point, taking turns hiking with me. It was very nice having them along for the hike, enjoyed the company. This was a dry section and their assistance it made it quite easy because the car was stocked with water limiting the amount of water carried along with trail. It felt like slack packing although I would not let them take any of my other gear even though they offered.
At one of the breaks we encountered two southbound Arizona Trail hikers we had some friendly chats then I found out they were both nuclear engineers. They worked at a nuclear plant in Nebraska. This really drove the conversation and hyperdrive because I am a nuclear engineer for the Navy. It turns out they were both Navy nukes on nuclear cruisers which were cut up at Puget Sound Ship Yard. We traded stories they even knew the colloquial term “Four balls manual”. I won’t explain this, but any coworkers reading this blog might get a quick chuckle. I would say to date, from other hikers I’ve met the most lively conversation I had was this one with these fellow nuclear engineers. I accused them of being Bart Simpson and then accuse me of being Bart Simpson.
Eric and I continued on our way and we basically were walking through a beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest, and the open meadows had Irises that were about 3 to 4 days away from blooming. I think Eric was wishing the Irises are blooming at that time. I think when I leave Flagstaff I think I’m going see a lot Irises higher in the mountains.
I made it to Flagstaff Arizona on Monday, May 10. I couldn’t check into my hotel till 4 PM so I spent the day walking around town being a tourist getting my fuel resupply, and learning every awesome place I could eat. There are more places to eat this town in more places to buy beer, and more places to drink coffee than you can imagine. I guess this is a sign of a thriving college town, beer and coffee. Monday evening my friend Forrest Fanara who hiked with me on the prior section join me for a pizza, beer and good conversations.
For my day off instead of actually resting what I ended up doing was renting a mountain bike. My mountain biking, killed two stones! I enjoyed the change of pace and I needed to get way out of town to the post office to pick up my resupply located at the main post office way out of the downtown core. I thoroughly enjoy the mountain biking when I get done with Four Corners Loop I think this is a new toy that will be in my future.
After leaving Flagstaff I plan on climbing Humphries peak which is 12,637 feet. I think I should be able to climb it the first day after leaving town which will give me about 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Tomorrow’s theme is just go up!
I am excited to be hiking towards the Grand Canyon tomorrow, and excited for the rest the trip.
Thank you for reading my blog.