Monday, June 25, 2012

South Mountain for the Weekend

A large section of the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Arizona has been closed due to extreme fire danger effective Thursday, June 21st.  My annual visit to Fossil Springs was cancelled as well as a backup hike to Horton Spring.  So instead I stayed in the valley despite the heat and did a pair of runs at South Mountain Regional Park.  I went solo on Saturday for a 10-mile out-and-back run along the National trail.  Sunday I met up with Arrick for a 15-mile loop starting from the Holbert trail (2.5M) to the National trail (7.75M), and back on San Juan Road (4.75M).  We had an awesome run with virtually no breaks and a lot of climbing.  The best part about trail running in Phoenix during the summer is solitude, and we had plenty!  Nice catching up Arrick!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sycamore Canyon Rim Trail

The three hour drive to Williams, Arizona was a total bust as the Bill Williams trail was closed due to extreme fire danger.  Not all was lost, luckily I had a back up plan. There's a route near Parks, AZ bordering the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area that I've wanted to explore for the last year now, so I left Williams and headed south off of I-40 to find the trailhead. About 13 miles later I reached a small parking area for the Sycamore Canyon Rim trail (pictured right - Dow trailhead).  I laced up a new pair of Mizunos and started running counter-clockwise toward KA hill.  I really didn't know what to expect to see along this 11.5 mile loop, turns out it's an easy to follow trail with incredibly scenic canyon views.  Seeing only a handful of hikers and a few climbers at Sycamore Falls, this trail really gives you a true wilderness feel.  An hour and a half later I was back at the car, and ready to make my way to Flagstaff for an afternoon hike.  This weekend was all about covering new ground up North, so after lunch I decided to hike the Kachina trail.  It's a popular connector between Snowbowl road and the Weatherford trailhead, and thought of as one of the most scenic in the area.  That's a pretty bold statement, given the network of trails through the Kachina Peaks Wilderness.

You don't see this everyday on your morning run!

Pomeroy Tanks - Sycamore Canyon Rim Trail

Sycamore Falls - Sycamore Canyon Rim Trail

Kachina Trail - Flagstaff, Arizona

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jacks Canyon

Jacks Canyon Trail Run/Hike
Munds Mountain Wilderness Area
Sedona, Arizona
Mileage - 12.75-13
Time - 3:45

Summer temperatures are on the rise in Phoenix, so getting out of the valley to recreate is a must.  Matt and I drove up to Sedona on Saturday morning to explore the less traveled Munds Mountain Wilderness with the intention of summiting Munds Mountain (pictured right).  The signage at the trailhead and route description we used was incorrect, leaving us a little puzzled as to where we were actually at on the trail.  After contemplating whether or not to continue on, Matt and I turned back after 6+ miles to see if there was a missed turn.  Turns out, we had a least another mile to travel before reaching the junction that leads to the summit, so the sign has the trail listed 1 mile shy.  This is a beautiful canyon with plenty of shade thanks to the pines and alligator junipers, and other than the deep sand and dirt on the trail from horse travel, it was a really nice hike.  On the car ride home we decided to return in order to reach the summit, possibly this fall.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pine Canyon Loop

Tonto National Forest
Pine, Arizona
Mileage - 26.4
Time - 5:33
AEG - 4,999 ft

Jeremy sent out a few emails this past week to see if anyone was interested in running part of the Mogollon Monster 100 course on Sunday, and actually had a few takers.  I say it like that because this race takes place on some very rugged terrain with a great deal of elevation gain, so going into the run, we knew it would be tough.  Sure enough, it was.  The time I have listed above was our "running" time, but it took us over 7 hours to complete a marathon distance.

Things weren't all bad, we had a great group of people for the run including Honey, Rudolph, Michael, Jeremy and myself..  If you want to talk scenery, this section of the Mogollon Rim is hard to beat, especially Pine Canyon!  The route we followed began at the Pine trailhead and took Pine Canyon trail #26 a little over 8 miles to the top of the rim, where we followed Jeremy through the forest on what he claimed to be the General Crook trail.  Once we came across Milk Ranch Road (10 miles in), we continued on it for a while until a sign for Turkey Springs led us back into the forest.  A big descent awaited us at the edge of the rim, we dropped down 2000+ feet in 2 miles where we intersected the Geronimo trail.  This led the 5 of us to the Geronimo trailhead where we stashed 2 gallons of water to refill our bottles.  It was noon at this point and we had another 8 miles of exposed trail left along the Highline before finishing.  Roughly 2 hours later we were back at the car and ready to down some cold drinks.  Those brave individuals entering the MM100 in September really have a lot to look forward to.  The beauty of this old growth forest and uniqueness of the landscape will certainly reward your efforts!  

Pine Canyon Trailhead

Michael on the rim above Pine Canyon

Preparing to descend Turkey Springs

View from Turkey Springs Trail