Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Taking Care of Business and resting up in Flagstaff May 28-31

May 28---we awoke at about 7:30 am after a great 12 hours of sleep, and got moving slowly, evaluating the toll that our adventure took on our bodies. We decided that we were going to live, so we walked to Grand Canyon Village, ate pancakes and omelets at the fancy El Tovar Lodge, where we could look out over the rim while we ate. Pam and I bought a few souvenirs, and we headed on down the road to Flagstaff. We traveled on US 180, which is known as the scenic way to the canyon. It was beautiful, as we went through meadows and ponderosa forests, as we wound around the San Francisco Mountain peaks into town. The road was narrow, there were no shoulders, and it was not a safe road to ride on a bicycle. I had really wanted to ride this trip, but I had decided earlier in the day that my back and neck were not up to the challenge, even if my legs would have been. It was a good decision based on road conditions, and I wouldn't have been as sharp as I needed to be. Live to pedal another day.
We got into the KOA at flagstaff, on the opposite side of town from where we stayed before. The site was not level, and it was a hassle to back into, but once we got settled, I decided to go for a little 15 miler around town, just to see how it felt. As I rode, I decided that a physical therapist or a massage would be in order, to try to fix back issues that I hadn't felt since last year. Pam treated herself to a massage, and hopefully, we will be fully recovered very soon.

May 29----we woke up early after another early night, and I started calling therapists of all sorts, trying to find someone who had an appointment open. I finally found someone who would see me at 10 am at the Flagstaff Athletic Club. The guy worked with me a little, and showed me some exercises, but I was not at all impressed. This guy was nothing compared to my P T people at home, and not even in the same league as my favorite therapist at North Beach in N. Carolina.
After the appointment, I decided to go for a ride, and give my old spine and legs a workout. There is a ski resort called the Snow Bowl a few miles outside of town, near Mt. Humphreys, which is the tallest peak in Arizona, at over 12,000 ft. I had read that the resort was above 9000 ft, and I have never pedaled above maybe 8800, in New Mexico. I set out into the wind, and climbed from 6800 ft to 9300 ft over about twenty miles. Quite a test for the back and legs, but I think I passed. It took 2:45 to get to the resort. I climbed 1900 feet in the last six miles, and topped out at 9320 ft. I was amazed that my breathing wasn't any worse up there than at the lower elevations. My quads would only go so fast, but they held up pretty well. At 8000ft, I felt pretty good. At 8200, I looked back and knew that I was already higher than any other peak I could see. At 8400, aspens began to take over as the predominant tree, where ponderosa pines were everywhere down below. At 8600, my quads started to talk to me in tongues, so I took my only break to drink some water. My heavy breathing and the wind in the trees were my constant companions, and it was very peaceful as I looked at the snow on Mt Humphreys, still towering above everything else. At 8800 ft, old aspens, with initials carved in them, dominated Aspen Corner, where was parking and some trails. At 9000 ft, I knew I had pedaled higher than I have ever done in my life, and I confirmed the fact that I like the mountains so much more than the never ending flat lands that I encountered on the east coast , gulf coast, and Texas. I knew that if I turned around there, that I had accomplished something, but that wasn't going to happen. 9000 ft to the top happened real fast. I rode to the base of a ski lift that takes tourists up even higher, but today it was closed.
After taking 2:45 to get here, it only took 1:15 to get back to the KOA. 30-35 mph down the mountain and a tail wind the rest of the way home pushed me pretty good. Good thing too, because it was twenty degrees colder on top, and after the ride down, my legs had tightened up pretty good. It took a little while to loosen up again for the ride back in. I probably bit off a little more than I should have for a test ride, but I'm glad I did it.
I saw two guys blow by me on the way up the mountain, but their jerseys said Grand Canyon University Cycling Team, so I wasn't even tempted to hang. When I was coming down the mountain, I saw two more in the same uniform, and they were struggling, so that made me feel better.

May 30---I started out the day with a P T appointment. My back is going to be fine, but I'm gonna take advantage of some free treatment, thanks to insurance. Pam cleared the RV out of the KOA by eleven am, and parked it in the Flagstaff Mall parking lot. We bought a new camera at Best Buy, and then set out to find something cool to take pictures of. We went to the Sunset Crater National Monument and the Wupatki National Monument. In this case, a monument is just like a park, only it is meant to preserve something, usually historical. The Sunset Crater is actually a volcano that erupted about a thousand years ago, not very long ago really. The plains and hills for miles around are covered with ash and old lava flow. It's like nothing I've ever seen. The ground is black, with the red, natural rocks showing through in places. The ponderosa pine, and some shrubs are coming back, but very little grows there. We did get a glimpse of what we thought was a jack rabbit, and Pam saw a slide possum! The Wupatki park was a series of Pueblo ruins in different areas near the volcano, but also very close to the Painted Desert. The scenery was awesome, and the history and ability of these people to survive in such conditions is incredible. The day ended with us taking the motor home to the Flagstaff Camping World, to have the refrigerator parts put in that we ordered way back before we went to Las Vegas.

Lava field from volcanic eruption 1000 years ago!

More lava rocks

Sunset crater - youngest volcano in Arizona



Volcanoes (dormant) around us

Next to Sunset Crater is all this land with remains of Pueblos

Remains in the distance


Hiking up to the remains

Close up

From the back

Peeking out from the ruins - it is a very desolate land


Another ruins - a whole clan lived here

The circle is a ball court!

This is what the pueblo looked like...

Just looking out over the land


May31---we woke up at 7 am, to get awake before the Camping World technicians came calling at 8am. Pam stayed at Camping World and supervised the repairs from the customer lounge, and I headed to physical therapy and to find a campground for the weekend. KOA , where we stayed before Camping World was not a good place for us, so we went to Kit Carson's, on the west end of town. After we set up, we headed back to the Arizona Snow Bowl in the Jeep. I rode up to 9320 ft there the other day, but today we wanted to ride the ski lift up to 11,500 ft, at the tree line. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and we could see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, 60 some miles away. There was still snow in areas, but a light jacket did the trick. We did a little hiking on top of the volcano formed mountain, and we were amazed at the steepness and narrowness of the trails. There was a bowl at the top of the next mountain, Mt Humphrey, the highest point in Arizona, and skiers had to take off their skis and hike a long way to get to it. The bowl looked like a sheer cliff, and ended in the ponderosa pine forest, with very narrow trails. It would qualify as the gnarliest, most difficult ski resort I've ever seen. The lift ride took about a half an hour each way, as the lift was slowed for the summer tourists, as opposed to a faster ride during ski season.

Road trip to the snowbowl!  Ski resort in the National Forest- gonna take a chair lift ride up to the top of the mountain!

Going up the chair lift!

This is a far as the chairlift goes!  If you want to ski the bowl, you go hiking!


At the top of the lift, there is a ski patrol hut and the highest toilet in Arizona!  Of course I had to check it out!

Some of the trail signs

Some of the wild life!  Ha Ha  Notice the snowdrift behind Mike - it is the end of May!!!!

Couldn't hike up any further because of this federally protected plant!

Behind us is Mt. Humphrey the highest mountain in Arizona - about 600 feet  above us.

Looking down into the valley - as you can see by the haze, we were in the clouds!

Going down the chair lift

June 1 Today we made plans to fly back to Pittsburgh tomorrow, as my mother is gravely ill. We fly out of Phoenix in the afternoon, and arrive in Pittsburgh late Sunday night.

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