Posts Tagged ‘outdoor adventures’
I always forget how much I love day-long adventures until I have one. So far in 2013, I’ve had TWO: fishing on New Years Day and hiking this past Saturday. Saturday was one of those “adventures” that is only loosely planned.
Ben had noticed a seep marked on the wicked-cool Arizona Recreation Atlas I had given him for Christmas. It’s not that far from his house so we decided to hike up to it and have a poke around. We also grabbed the metal detectors to see if we could find anything fun.
There are some enormous mesas just north of Chino Valley. Since OCTOBER we’d been trying to successfully get to the top of one. Trust me, none of the photos do the size and steepness justice!
I knew that the day was going to be fantastic when it started out by coming around a bend in the road and finding an entire herd of antelope!
From there, we parked and began climbing the hill. I was testing out a couple of new products: Merino wool base layer (thermal underwear), an amazing new hiking stick, and a new mini-backpack from REI. I’ll get the reviews up in the coming weeks.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of the day simply because MOST of our adventure was spent hiking to the top of the mesa. And while my camera takes AMAZING photos, it’s not pocket sized!
The seep was really neat. I’ve never seen cattails growing basically out of the side of a mountain. There was about 8 inches of water in the bottom of the tunnel so there was no exploring; the high was maybe about fifty degrees!
We then scaled the entire mesa to the very top. Along the way, I saw a 6-foot long snake skin, prickly pear cacti with pads at least twelve inches across, a galvanized steel pipe sticking straight up out of a rock outcropping, climbed some nasty cliffs, found pottery shards from the 1970′s, and enjoyed the most amazing views of the valley spread out below us.
I’d love to go back and do some more exploring; maybe with a pocket-friendly camera! But, based on the size of that snake skin, I’ll ONLY be doing it during the cold months!
Oh, and the metal detecting? I found a 30-30 rifle cartridge, a bit of wire, and an old Coke can. Hauled it all off the mountain too!
Do you ever have one of those perfect weekends? The one where you spend more time outside than in, have great adventures, see amazing scenery, are close to wildlife, and have great company doing it?
Well I just had one of those weekends!
I decided that it was finally time to do a real backpacking trip. I’ve been accumulating backpacking gear for a while but hadn’t ever done a trip. I’m not experienced and I was waiting to meet somebody who knew what they were doing. The last thing I needed was to hike three miles into the forest with somebody inexperienced. I’ll live without the blind-leading-the-blind, thank you very much!
For my adventure, my friend Ben & I decided to hike into a mine that had a seep coming out of it. And if there just happened to be a geocache there, well, yay for us!
We basically hiked about five miles round trip. And the scenery was stunning and the weather perfect!
At the mine I realized that we really hadn’t read the cache description all that well. (To be honest, I hadn’t read it at all!) And I hadn’t printed out the cache pages. I always print the cache description page because geocaching can take you well out of cell service!
We weren’t sure if the cache was in the cave or not (still not sure since we never did find it) but I did find something cool in the cave:
Lots of little brown and grey bats. Say what you want about bats, they are off-the-chart cool. The cave twists back into the hillside at least 100′. In the last thirty feet there were bats everywhere. Stuck to the ceiling like fuzzy light fixtures, squeezing out of holes about three inches across, and just dangling one at a time.
And no, I didn’t touch one! Nor did they come anywhere close to getting in my hair. But I did turn off the lights and kneel a moment in the black and listen to them squeak at each other. And felt the wind of one’s passing as it flew overhead. I really didn’t have the right camera equipment to get any good photos. And I couldn’t really sit on the mine’s floor since the seep was at the very back and the entire floor of the mine had at least two inches of water covering it.
I got one photo with Ben shining the light on a hole and, yes, I did take one photo with flash. I just couldn’t help myself. I left right after that since I’d woken them all up and I didn’t want to agitate them any more. I’m planning a trip back with better camera gear to get some photos!
Let me just say this, walking out the last time (took a total of three trips into the mine looking for the cache) I was treated to a view of Ben’s silhouette in the entrance and four bats flying between him & I. They didn’t want to pass either of us. But I crouched low so they could go over my head and got to watch the sunlight stream through their wings.
The original goal was to hike up to the ridgeline above the mine and along the mesa until we could see the valley below and then camp. But the ridge was, well, not exactly hiking friendly. Very steep, rugged terrain. We did try it but gave it up as a bad job.
So, on to plan B: return to the truck and then drive to the other side of Chino Valley and hike into the Verde River.
After about five miles round trip (hauling a 30+ pound backpack!) that’s what we did!
The access to the river was in a remote spot that required 4-wheel drive so we had the whole area to ourselves. And it wasn’t that far of a hike from truck to river. Thank goodness because I’m not sure how much farther I wanted to hike. My super cool pack was a super good buy. And it doesn’t fit me as well as I’d like!
After a great night under a full moon, it was a hike back out in the morning!
I will say this: I think I may well be addicted to backpacking now. I love the ability to hike away from other campers and enjoy the wilderness. And I loved knowing that an ATV or 4-wheel drive wasn’t going to come screeching down the road and get dust all over my tent because we were miles from any road!
Ah! Camping. Jessica and I had a great trip with Skippy. We ended up in a developed campground near Flagstaff, Arizona.
I FINALLY got to stop at Flagstaff Brewing Company for the world’s best French onion soup. I think I’m going to be on a quest to duplicate this stuff. And when I do, I’ll post the recipe to Fun Food Fridays. Because I always want it when I’m camping. So that makes it outdoor food, right?
I also got to test a really nifty roasting stick. The whole product review will be up in a couple of weeks.
And yes, before you ask, I did make some notes and jotted down some thoughts for the upcoming eBook on camping. I also checked on two of my five geocaches (too hot and then too rainy to check the rest!) and started work on a new scary story for the next anthology. Hopefully it’ll be out sometime in September!
But mostly, I ate. A lot.
I’m going camping this weekend with my best friend Jessica. Yay! I haven’t been out since May, mostly because I’ve been super busy and the Arizona monsoons hadn’t started yet. Who wants to go camping when it’s hot, dry and windy? Bleck.
The funny thing about writing this eBook is that while I’ve been writing about camping basics since May 2006, I’ve never really stopped to think about all the things I take for granted that are completely new to a beginner. I’ve been working on the book since April, I had hoped for a release just before Memorial Day. Alas, I keep discovering more things that need to be added, clarified, and expanded. (Up to 157 pages and counting!)
This past May, I went camping with my “BS Club” to a private campground. I took Skippy the Tent Trailer. A couple of my girls stayed in tents and two “roughed it” in a cabin. Since I’m the only one with a pickup truck, I ended up taking a lot of the supplies with me. And it surprised me that some of the girls packed in real, honest-to-goodness suitcases. Not duffels which are stuffable around other bits of gear. Nope, suitcases that you can’t mash into another shape. And if they’re not full, well that’s too bad ’cause they don’t get any littler!
Bang! The concept of telling beginner campers to pack in duffle bags went into the section on packing.
My friend James proofread the first 50 pages or so for me. And in his notes, after I mentioned that primitive campgrounds regularly lack potable water he put in a little [?potable?] note. And I realized that not everybody knows that potable means drinking water.
I reached out to my Facebook friends for their suggestions. I had no fewer that THREE people tell me: “Put your tent together before you go; make sure nothing’s broken and you have all the parts!”
And I thought that was common sense!
As I am getting ready for this trip, running through real and mental checklists, I’m also going back to my own manuscript. Making sure I’m clear, that I haven’t left anything out that might be obvious to me but would take a newbie by surprise.
So, what’s your advice to the knows-nothing camper? What is a camping myth that you may have held that you now know is false?
And, please, give me feedback on the cover ideas! Courtesy of Jessica.
People all over the world enjoyed the “Ring of Fire” eclipse yesterday, including me! ESP Boss & I were hurrying home from the Overland Expo in time to watch the eclipse with my mom.
And while we missed the exact peak of the event, AND were too far south to fully experience the “ring of fire” the whole thing was incredibly dramatic.
We had been given special glasses to watch the eclipse with while we were at the Expo. The most dramatic part: seeing a partially eclipsed sun set behind Mary’s Mesa.
It’s always been on my list to see a total solar eclipse. I think this might be even better!
Readers Weigh In:
- Did you get to see the eclipse at all? What did you think?
I live in a little subdivision. Little houses on little streets. And on my street, there are EIGHT single ladies. Three years ago, we banded together to form the “BS Club” (a play on words for the name of our subdivision.)
Once a month, we gather at someone’s house for dinner, talking, and plenty of vodka-laced punch. Then, being the responsible adults that we are, we walk home.
In May, however, we broke from tradition and took our dinner club show on the road. We spend a weekend at Lolomai Campground.
Here are a few pics of the trip. And expect to see future posts with a couple of tips and some fabulous recipes!
This was a short hike from the parking area. But don’t let the word “short” confuse you with EASY. The hike starts out from a dirt parking lot and promptly climbs STRAIGHT UP A SANDY HILL.
And this Arizona Princess really doesn’t like getting sand in my shoes! But, thankfully, my guide for the day, Andy, warned me about the sand so I was prepared with my boots and sticker gaiters.
From the top of the hill, the vistas all around are simply breath-taking. So much so I didn’t actually TAKE any photos! But, from the top of the rise you can see Echo Peaks to the west, near the confluence of the Paria River with the Colorado. The dark line of the Vermilion Cliffs lies farther west, while Navajo Mountain stands behind, to the east.
It’s well worth a pause just to look around and enjoy. But we were in a hurry, so it was a quick stop to catch my breath and then a rapid plunge down the far side to the overlook itself.
Needless to say, the views of the Colorado River below are nothing short of stunning. The water was a lovely blue-green that just invited a lazy paddle. Of course, while it looked like it was RIGHT THERE, the water is actually nearly 1,100 feet below. Yikes! I’m not usually bothered by heights, but it did make me a bit queasy.
It wasn’t the best time of day for photos, but the views were just amazing. And we managed to hit the overlook in a lull between crowds of people. The hike is 1.5 miles round trip but it is up and over a pretty considerable hill. It was cool enough that I wore a sweatshirt TO the parking lot but toasty enough for me to leave it in the car.
I look forward to going back when I have more time to sit, enjoy, sketch, and get some better pictures!
After a few minutes enjoying the view, it was back in the car and back to Andy’s where he made Navajo Fry Bread. Yum!
The first International Geocaching Day was celebrated on Saturday August 20, 2011. Geocaching.com says that this will be an annual affaire held on the third Saturday of August each year.
If you found a cache or attended an event on 8/20/11 you will get a special souvenir on your profile on geocaching.com. (Souvenirs will be awarded soon but as of today, nothing has appeared yet!)
Not only did I drag ESP Boss and The Queen Mother out for a “quick” cache on Saturday, I also celebrated my 100th find. I had been “saving” lucky number 100 for a special occasion…
Okay, not really. I tried to get to 100 two weeks ago when I was caching with Sandy but struck out.
Anyway, not only did I get my 100th find on a very neat day in geocaching history but it was also the first ever micro placed by local caching couple jeananjoe that the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family successfully found.
I know every caching area as “THAT ONE” cache hider who is so mean, ruthless, and nigh impossible to find their caches. Well, the micros of jeananjoe are my cache-placing nemesis.
And we found it!
Readers Weigh In:
- Did you participate in International Geocaching Day? What did you do/find?
Last week I wrote about planning the big geocaching adventure for Sandy. It was her very first time ever geocaching but she’d been hearing about it from me all summer long.
I decided that we should head to nearby Willow Lake. I chose Willow Lake for three reasons:
- There was a high concentration of not-too-difficult caches around the lake. I wanted an area where we would have multiple caches to go after so if we couldn’t find some Sandy wouldn’t get discouraged.
- Heritage Park is pretty busy every day of the week. Two women out alone — well I wanted to be someplace where we wouldn’t be isolated.
- It a GORGEOUS area! So I knew that even if caching was a bust there would be plenty of scenery for us to enjoy.
And my bonus reason was that I hadn’t looked for any of the caches there!
We left right after work and of the 7 caches we looked for, we found 6! That’s not too bad for an early evening of caching and especially great for Sandy’s first caching adventure.
By the end of the trip, she was already asking me how much my Garmin cost! Prices have come down quite a bit since I got mine: Garmin Venture HC. That’s a link to Amazon.com
Readers Weigh In:
- What was your first geocaching adventure
- How long did it take before you were hooked?
ESP Boss has had a great girl working for him this summer. Sandy is a local girl who has been attending ASU pursing a degree in accounting. So, this summer we’ve hired her at the tax office to help out.
She’ll be heading back to school in a couple of weeks but before she goes back to Tempe, she asked me if I would take her geocaching. Yeah! I love nothing more than introducing a new person to the great game of geocaching.
We’re planning on heading out tomorrow evening, after work, to find some local caches. I’ll be planning the outing tonight (hence the shorter post). Here are some things I’m taking into consideration as I plan this:
1. Size of the cache
Let’s face it, the exciting part of getting started in geocaching is the swag. Every new geocacher is convinced they’re going to find something super cool in a cache. So for Sandy’s first caches, I want them to be large enough to have some good swag.
When you’re introducing a new sport or game to somebody you want them to “win”, right? Well for a lot of geocachers, the “win” is the find. I’ll be concentrating on caches that aren’t too difficult to find so she can start to build up her geosense.
3. Letting her do it
When I was camping with my friend Nicole last August, we went after a geocache. And I made a BIG mistake when I was introducing her to the game: I didn’t let her do it. It was a cache I had hid and I was in “maintenance mode” not “encouraging a new geocacher mode. I didn’t let Nicole hold the GPS or make the find. Tomorrow, I’ll be sure to let Sandy do it herself.
Some other things I’m planning are to have the caches pre-loaded into the GPS and the cache pages pre-printed. I know a lot of people do paper-less caching, but I’m not one of them. Also, before we head out, I’ll have her register for a free account on geocaching.com.
Readers Weigh In:
- What are your tips when you’re taking somebody geocaching for the first time?