T’was the night before Christmas, and out at Rogers Lake…
…yeah, I’m not doing that.
So, in true holiday fashion, I decided the good and prudent thing to do for my own sanity was get out in the woods, sling a hammock among friendly trees, and watch the stars come out and the moon rise through my eyelids.
What, it’s supposed to get down to 24 degrees? Eh, I’ve done that before. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow? Eh, I’ve ridden in snow plenty. Part of me camping in winter is finding the point where it stops being fun.
After the moon came up, a pack of coyotes started singing. They might have been a half mile or so away. They kept it up off and on all night, because every time I woke up, I could hear them howling and yipping.
And the world turns.
The title, S24o, is short for Sub-24 hour Overnight, which is what most of my camping trips are. Fun, simple, and relaxing.
Oh, it got down to 19 degrees, and I was plenty warm.
As the Sun sets earlier in the fall, my after work rides get a bit darker.
I love night riding, especially when I’m in quiet, low traffic areas where I can ride without a headlight. There’s just something about being out with nothing but moonlight (Or less sometimes!) lighting the path. It’s liberating.
At the same time, there’s something about riding singletrack at night, with nothing but a headlight. What you see is so limited. It’s a big world around you, and you can only see what’s in your beam, and nothing outside it. Scary, but exciting!
With the changing leaves, the trail days get colorful. It’s magical being out in the woods working on the trails, with the trees changing colors and dropping their leaves. Fall really is one of my favorite times to be out there.
Winter’s coming though… The Peaks have some snow on them!
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.
I may or may not have been busy. Lots of trail days, the Taylor House Ride, and after spending a few days in the back country up on the North Rim with friends and taking well over a thousand pictures… the thought of going through them all to find the best ones to put up was a little daunting. Maybe I’ll do a North Rim photo dump, yeah?
Anyways… a few highlights up until a few weeks ago. More to follow when I pull it off the camera.