S24o – Cold Camps

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.

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So I wound up on the western side of Rogers Dry Lake. I wanted to have a view of the Peaks, and I wanted the sun to hit me in the morning. I definitely got that in this spot.
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Home for the night.
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A room with a view.
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Kendrick Mountain basking in the sun. Also, turkeys (I think!)
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The five highest points in Arizona.
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It’s dinnertime! Go go homemade wood stove! (I know the needles are close, but they are wet, and the outside wall of the stove doesn’t get hot enough to ignite anything.)
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Seasons decorations.
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It’s like being in a boat on the water.

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.

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Good morning! I watched this storm front roll across the sky all morning.
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As I was starting to pack up, last night’s coyotes decided to pay me a visit.

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“Y hello thar!”
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Right when I was getting ready to ride home, I spotted this guy. It started to melt as I got the camera out. I took a picture anyways.

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.

Be kind.

Fall: Dark Evening Rides, Colorful Trail Days

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.

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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!

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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.

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Brand new trail with a view!
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It’s hard work building new trail. Sorry, big mahogany bush…
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I did save a couple big pieces of it to make something out of, so it’s not wasted.

Winter’s coming though… The Peaks have some snow on them!

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My Favorite Time of the Year

Well, one of them, anyways.

I love storms. I’m aware that they cause a lot of problems for a lot of people, but out here in Arizona, we don’t get a heck of a lot of moisture from the sky, so I celebrate the storms. I’ll go out in them, hike, ride, work in them, and I’ll get depressed when they go away and the Sun comes back out.

Maybe I should live in Seattle.

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But does Seattle have this?

I love it when the monsoon season starts up in Flagstaff. It’s been a long stretch since the last rain, usually, and the forest is dry and thirsty. It’s hot, It’s dry. Dusty. Most years, there’s been at least one big forest fire, and countless smaller fires, usually human caused. They closed parts of the forest this year because of how dry it’s been. Usually, around the beginning of July, big thunderheads start rolling across the sky, rains, lightning and thunder, hail storms, the occasional tornado. This year? About right on time! They opened the forest this past Wednesday.

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A welcome and scary sight in the midst of a hard drought.

I like to ride up to a thunderstorm, then race it home to see if I can beat the rain. I call it storm poking. Sometimes, the storm wins. Sometimes I’m faster. I like finding a place to sit and watch and listen to the storm, too. That’s my favorite.

Today, I got wet. Very wet.

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Heavy clouds over the Peaks.

I was up on top of Mt. Elden, planning to ride down Sunset, ride some of the trail work that we did before the closure, then hook up with Little Bear, and decide where to go from there.

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Not even five minutes later.

When I saw the rain marching down the slopes of the Peaks towards Schultz Pass, I knew I was going to get wet. Fortunately I brought my rain cape! Unfortunately, rain capes are really only effective if your bike has fenders… Tri lacks the fenders.

The rain caught me on the Catwalk, and I put on the rain cape. It’s all so fun, though, I ended up spraying everything under the cape (So, me, my bike, and everything attached to it) with wet sandy mud. There were points, where the trail drainage needs work, where the water was running down the trail five or six inches deep. Lightning was striking around me, the rain was getting heavy, and I was having a blast. Not even in that retrospective “It sucked in the moment, but looking back, it was kind of fun.” way, I was genuinely enjoying it.

I opted not to go down Little Bear, because of the Schultz Fire, a lot of that trail is totally exposed, which is bad with lightning. I got down to Schultz Pass, and took the road down. As I got to the Y, the rain let up and the Sun came out. I rolled up my (now very muddy) rain cape, dumped about three cubic feet of sand out of each shoe, and headed home, the long way, enticing more storms to come and get me.

It was a great ride. But next time, I’ll bring a rain jacket, not a cape.

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Short fun section of Sunset, above the Catwalk.

I’m planning on riding tomorrow. Will I get wet? We’ll see!