Fall Colors in the Inner Basin – 2018

It’s my favorite time of year to be riding a bike. It’s not too hot, it’s not too cold, the wind is reasonably tame most days, and, best of all, the leaves are changing color.

A ride I do every year, is a ride up Waterline Road, to the Inner Basin of the San Francisco Peaks. It’s a ride that I think some people have come to expect me to do every year. It’s a long ride, with almost a vertical mile of total climbing, but I look forward to it, even after the Schultz Fire burned that side of the mountain. It’s been interesting to see the ongoing recovery. It’s also a ride that I typically do in it’s entirety only once a year. It’s just not the same without the yellows and reds and oranges.

We start off riding from the house to Schultz Pass, where the bottom of Waterline Road is. We then go up, under the Dragonspine, and wind along the ridges of the east side of the mountain, through the Schultz fire scar, and through pockets of green trees that didn’t burn. We wind up at the maintenance cabins for the city wells in the Inner Basin, where we have a few choices. Either up the steep trail to the Inner Basin, continue up Waterline to the north side of the Peaks, or down to Lockett Meadow.

I always head up to the Inner Basin first, as that is my main goal for the ride. I’ll come back down one of the lesser known maintenance roads to the cabins, then head up Upper Waterline. The grade starts off fairly light, but the last mile before the end of the road  gets steeper. That combined with the thin air at 10,000 feet has me start thinking about the long downhill to come. Waterline Road dead ends at 10,200 feet, in Abineau Canyon, surrounded by avalanche scars, and in the shadow of the highest point in Arizona.

After butting on thicker gloves and a jacket, it’s fifteen miles of downhill back to Schultz Pass, then my choice of routes back home. Today I hooked up with the Arizona Trail, then retraced my steps back over Observatory Mesa and home.

Enough text, on to the pics, yeah?

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Mt. Elden and the Dry Lake Hills, from (almost) the bottom of Waterline Road. Usually I’m riding over there, taking pictures of over here!
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The Dragonspine.

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What I meant by “under” the Dragonspine. Choo choo!
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The aspens are growing in after the Schultz fire. Part of the recovery.

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Feeling walled in by the young aspens.

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Almost on level with Mt. Elden.
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Follow the yellow leafed road!
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I’m a little early this year. Not all the trees were changing,  but almost all of them still had leaves. It was nice to see the trees full.

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Why I do it. Fremont on the left, Agassiz on the right. Come around the corner, with these two huge peaks presented to you… it’s amazing.
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Break time! Looking back down the way I came.
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Fueling up the well pumps. The wells up here can supply up to 10% or so of Flagstaff’s water.

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Up and up, Upper Waterline Road.
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Lockett Meadow from above.
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Upper Waterline is not regularly maintained, so there are usually a few blowdowns to contend with. We’ll call this one a show stopper.
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End of the road! Looking north from ~10,200 feet.
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Looking south-ish up Abineau Canyon, at Humphrey’s Peak.
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I spent a good 5 minutes taking pictures of these two red-tails. They were having fun.
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Relaxing after playing, probably making fun of the camera guy.
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More local wildlife, spotted on the way home on the Loop Trail.

Stats for the day?

Miles ridden – 60.6

Total vertical distance – 5,280 feet (One mile!)

Total time – 9 hours

Time stopped – 2 hours 18 minutes

Crashes – 0

Flowers smelled – several

Trees hi-fived – at least 10

Campers camped in the middle of the road – 2

 

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