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Slip Sliding Up and Down Mt. Humphreys Trail

Friday, November 30, 2012

This was going to be a big hike for me and I thought I had done my homework. I located the trail head before leaving our condo in Sedona, called the ranger station to check conditions on the mountain, and checked the weather. Mt. Humphreys is the highest point in Arizona at 13,637 feet and is located close to Flagstaff, AZ. A hike of 4.8 miles one way will get you to the top. I didn't have any plans to try and summit as I was not acclimated to the elevation. The trail head is located at 9400 feet and for a lowlander like me who usually hikes at 1500 to 3000 feet, I knew I would be lucky to make it to the tree line at 11,000 feet.

So DH and I drove for an hour to the trail head which is actually well marked and is at the north end of the Snow Bowl Arizona (a winter ski area) parking lot. DH does not hike but he willingly and sometimes patiently waits until I return.

We did our routine photos at the trail head sign and then I was off excited and a little nervous about the challenges of the trail.

The trail starts off as a little wider than a single track dirt road that passes through a meadow with some great views of the mountain. Humphreys is part of the San Francisco Peaks and in this picture is the mountain to the left.

The trail climbs at a fairly easy incline, but at a quarter of mile when the trail enters the forest, I was already breathing harder than normal. Determined to see what this trail was all about, I told myself I could do this. I started using a method of pressurized breathing that high altitude climbers use...purse your lips and suck in and with lips still pursed, blow out with force. I've never tried this before, but I think it helped.

Leaving the meadow behind and entering the forest I saw the Kachina Wilderness sign and made note of all the natural hiking sticks that had been left behind. I thought about taking one, but since I don't usually hike with poles, I thought it would be more of a nuisance than a benefit.

It wasn't long after I was in the forest that ice started to appear on the trail. Now when I talked to someone named Linda at the Peaks Ranger Station to inquire about conditions on the mountain, I was told there really wasn't any snow although there might be a few icy patches at higher elevations. So, I was at about 9700 feet which I didn't consider high considering the top was 13,000 ft plus, but here was ice on the trail. And I wouldn't have called it a patch as it seemed the entire trail was covered in ice with water flowing over the top of the ice. Fortunately, there was no snow, so it wasn't too difficult to walk along side the trail and continue on up. The x's in the photo mark the trail.

The trail is getting steep now and my watch tells me the elevation is now 9880 ft. I haven't even gone one half mile yet and I've covered about 500 feet in elevation gain. I'm beginning to rethink reaching the tree line and then the trail changes again!

There's now about 3-6 inches of snow on either side of the trail as well as on top of the trail and I can still hear water trickling below. Hmmm, no snow and only patchy ice at higher elevations. I have my sturdy hiking boots on, I'm dressed for the weather (about 41 degrees,) but I have no poles and more importantly, I have no crampons.

A reasonable person probably would have turned around. But I was really bummed, actually mad and if my cell phone had reception, I would have called Linda at the Ranger Station and asked her the last time she hiked the trail. I hadn't even gone a mile and whether I made it to 11000 feet or not, I certainly wanted to see more of this trail before I quit.

So I pawed around in the snow and found myself a walking stick, all the time thinking about the ones that were readily available at the start of the trail. The stick helped with balance, but now it was even slower going.

Just short of a mile I met a couple coming down the trail without sticks, without hiking boots and without water. Before we actually met, the woman fell twice. We talked for a few minutes and they assured me of the difficulty in going down. I suggested a hiking stick might help and we then went on our way.

The lady fell again (she was okay) and the sound of her scream distracted me enough that I fell face down with my chest hitting a log in the snow. For a mili second I couldn't breath and my next thought was cardiac tamponade. This is pressure on the heart that occurs when blood or fluid builds up in the space between the heart muscle (myocardium) and the outer covering sac of the heart (pericardium). It keeps the heart muscle from functioning normally and death is usually imminent. A cause can be a direct blow to the chest such as a steering wheel in a AA or a large woman falling directly onto a log.

Ah, but I digress, I obviously didn't die, didn't even hurt myself and decided I needed to get up out of the snow. Before I got up, I took a picture. I'm smiling because I'm not hurt and I can go a little more.

I trudged on and when I reached 10,332 feet, I stopped knowing it was going to take some time to get down. I took a picture of my stopping place in hopes of maybe finding it again the next time I'm on the trail. And I WILL climb this mountain, not today, not tomorrow, but when I have my crampons with me and my hiking poles.

I found another stick to go with the one I had and started down the trail. OH MY! OH MY! To make a long story short, I fell three times and the last time I sprained my big toe. Not sure how that happened when my boots are fairly stiff. Later I also noted I had a gouged out hole in my elbow but a little bacitracin and that's fine. I slipped at least a dozen times but didn't fall. At one point I threw my sticks down the slope and slid down on my butt.

I went a little over a mile with a 932 foot elevation gain in 55 minutes and about 70 minutes coming back down. I'm not sorry I went, but I was disappointed I didn't get any farther up the trail. Next time!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALEXSGIRL1 12/1/2012 8:21PM

    wow what an adventure next time take a buddy and poles and crampons and extra food in case you get lost can you tell i am a mom glad you had a great time you are brave and adventerous and that will keep you young

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KAYOTIC 11/30/2012 8:41PM

    I've heard this is a tough summit, hope you get to finish the blog at some point!

Thanks for the heads up that you finished the blog! What crazy conditions, glad you found the sticks and made it down relatively unscathed...better luck next time!

Comment edited on: 12/2/2012 12:18:27 PM

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MARTY728 11/30/2012 3:07PM

    emoticon hope you did not fall!

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TIMOTHYNOHE 11/30/2012 12:23AM

    Dude! No! You left me hanging here!!!

Much better. I really enjoyed reading this.

Comment edited on: 12/1/2012 5:19:03 PM

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It Was A WONDERFUL Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23, 2012

The holiday was particularly special this year because my Mom and StepDad are here. In September God spared his life in a near death event and now that he is making excellent progress in his recovery we are grateful and thankful for God's mercies.

And of course my handsome and charming grandson, the actor, made his way from Hollywood to be with us in the desert. Here he is with his grandfather, my dh.

And his great grandmother, my Mom.

Dear daughter, the fabulous cook was at her best again for this holiday. Here she is with her nephew and her favorite actor.

We had an addition to the table this year; an artist friend of dear daughter who added not only delicious homemade rolls to the feast, but also her sparkling wit. She's hiked the Grand Canyon rim to rim in one day, so you know we had a lot to talk about.

A lovely and eclectic table was set with a fabulous flower arrangement.

There was turkey, stuffing, broccoli casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh cranberry relish, green bean casserole, a new recipe with yams, garlic, and cheese, a wilted spinach and mushroom salad with a spicy orange dressing and lots of really fine wine.
Here dd brings the salad to the table while friend and grandson give a toast.

Then of course we have to talk about dessert. Oh my, a luscious pumpkin pie with real whip cream and a chocolate pumpkin torte.

I ate most of my calories for the day in this meal (1200) but my breakfast was an orange and my lunch was fresh spinach with very light dressing. I additionally burned 1001 calories yesterday on a hike and another 300 this morning on a fast uphill walk and a slow downhill jog. So I'm really full, but I'm so thankful and grateful for so many blessings this Thanksgiving.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CLAIREINPARIS 12/2/2012 5:59AM

    I LOVED the flower arrangements! Thank you so much for sharing your Thanksgiving with us.

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ALEXSGIRL1 11/23/2012 9:36PM

    your granson is cute and your thankgiving looked and sounded wonderful including your walks

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DAWN14163 11/23/2012 8:13AM

    Blessed indeed! Thanks for sharing a special day.

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WELLNESSME09 11/23/2012 7:53AM

    emoticon looks like you had a true blessed Thanksgiving...lovely! emoticon

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FITANDFIFTY2 11/23/2012 3:34AM

    So happy to hear you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Your table setting is beautiful!

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How Far Will You Go?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friends and family ask me all the time about why I hike, climb, and push myself when my joints are aching, my toenails are screaming and I feel like I can't take another step. Well, T.S. Eliot couldn't have said it any better. I love this quote and I feel the truth of this deeply.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CANNIE50 10/19/2012 2:25PM

    I love this quote, and I really enjoyed reading your comments on my blog. I know about pushing on in spite of physical discomfort and I share many of your same issues. I have 10 toes but maybe 7 nails, if that tells you anything! Here is my philosophy on exercising despite body-woes: I know people who are completely sedentary and they have the same, or oftentimes, worse aches and pains and problems as I do. I know some of my family secretly thinks my running is crazy and has caused or worsened my osteoarthritis but I firmly believe it is my excess weight that exacerbated it and it would be even worse if I had been more sedentary all these years. Plus, running has made me much more aware of stretching. Stretching my hamstrings is the only thing that has truly helped my lower back pain - as in, almost eliminating it altogether. We can get older while moving around, or we can get older while sitting around - you and I choose moving around. I appreciate your dream of climbing mountains. I thought for a long time, that I had another marathon in me. I have decided I probably don't, but I have a lot of 5k's and hikes and long walks and other endorphin producing activities left in me, and I aim to go after them all! emoticon

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 10/3/2012 3:54PM

    I get it!

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ALEXSGIRL1 9/28/2012 2:19PM

    you are always going farther and that makes you a winner in my book emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JENNIAUN 9/28/2012 12:39PM

    Hiking and climbing is great for exploration and just flat out fun! :)

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KAYOTIC 9/28/2012 10:03AM

    I'm with you on this one!

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MAGGIEVAN 9/27/2012 3:14AM

    Yes, I agree with you. It is a very good one. I experience it in my life as well. We are able to do so much more than we think we can and there is only one way to confrim this fact and it is by doing.

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MEDDYPEDDY 9/27/2012 2:08AM

    I am not much in favor of tormenting myself but I envy the people who do... you are doing great!

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Hiking in the Land of Edward Abbey…or “Oh, there’s Johnny Depp!” Pictures

Monday, September 10, 2012

When I was in college I read Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey. This book helped solidify my feelings about wilderness and the overwhelming beauty and silence of wild places. The book also reveals the character of a man who challenges the exploitation of nature. At one time he was a Park Ranger in Arches National Park in southern Utah spending days wandering in the solitude. Abbey lived in Moab, Utah and I’ve always wanted to spend time in Moab because he wrote so eloquently about the land.

In early July as were preparing our itinerary for a summer driving vacation, I routed us through Moab, and we spent a wonderful two nights and two days in the land Edward Abbey loved so much. Gorgeous red, orange, purple, and sand colored rocks, in amazing jumbles and angles as though a crane had placed them in their precarious positions, but of course it was the hand of God that created all this majestic landscape.

I chose Dead Horse Point State Park to hike because of its more remote location and unusual name. Although no one could factually confirm what happened, before the turn of the 19th century, mustang herds ran wild on the mesas near Dead Horse Point. The unique promontory provided a natural corral into which the horses were driven by cowboys. The only escape was through a narrow, 30-yard neck of land controlled by fencing. Mustangs were then roped and broken, with the better ones being kept for personal use or sold to eastern markets. Unwanted culls of "broomtails" were left behind to find their way off the Point. According to one legend, a band of broomtails was left corralled on the Point. The gate was supposedly left open so the horses could return to the open range. However when the horses were found dead the gate was still locked. The horses died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River, 2,000 feet below.

The trail had amazing views with the Colorado River snaking its way along the bottom of deep, deep canyons.

The trail had minimal elevation gain and certainly was not wilderness and was not far from the sound of cars on a nearby road. In some places the trail was hard to see and in other places it was paved and more like being in a park. I don’t know if this area ever burned, but I only saw dead trees.

The tall stack of rocks to the right in this picture is called a cairn and is used to mark the trail. In the second picture the cairn was a tiny stack of rocks for which I was very glad. It would have been easy to lose the trail in this location.

Sticks laid out in a row make good trail markers too. In many places the trail looked like this…just flat rock that went on and on without any footprints.

Not well visualized in this picture, it looked like the perfect burial place for a body and so is named by me, Coffin Rock. In fact, doesn’t that look like a skull just to the left of the tree at the bottom of the picture? One could wander in this land and contemplate the rock formations for hours on end.

“Please don’t jump!” Fortunately, I did not encounter any rattlesnakes, but I did see another reptile who looked like he was ready to take the plunge.

And speaking of taking a plunge, there were areas where the drop off was thousands of feet. I’m a little acrophobic so I don’t venture too close to edges, but my brother would have been teetering on the edge to see what he could see even though the boulders were clearly in place to keep people away from the edge.

About an hour into my hike my solitude was disturbed by a strange looking helicopter flying low and making continuous passes over a certain area. Although I couldn’t explain the big white nose, I though perhaps a hiker had fallen or become stranded. I was even more convinced of this when I saw the yellow “crime scene” tape blocking my path.

It wasn’t long before official looking people with radios and earphones approached and asked me to move back to a particular area. It was then I learned Johnny Depp was on location filming scenes for ‘The Lone Ranger’ due on the big screen summer 2013. The yellow tape was to keep people out of the area because of the helicopter. Apparently, in the past there was a helicopter crash while filming a movie which killed people on the ground. However, I did get some shots with a long lens. The first picture is no big deal, but when you realize he was up hundreds of feet from the ground on an open platform and then when you see the following pictures and see it was thousands of feet into the canyon…well THAT gives me a real sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The photo with the two x's is the location of the platform.

So after a short detour, I was back on the trail again returning to the park visitor’s center to meet my husband. As we sat talking about the hike, multiple SUV’s pulled into the parking lot and this dirty looking guy dressed in rough clothes wearing a headband with a feather gets out. He walked over to the food stand and when I realize it’s Johnny, I did get a few pictures which are not great, but I was trying to not be too obvious. Johnny is standing behind the film crew guy in the white shirt.

Our stay in Moab was wonderful, I enjoyed hiking in the land of Edward Abby with a surprise experience on the trail. Good-bye beautiful land of mesas, canyons and incredible rock formations.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MISSCUS 12/8/2012 2:11AM

    I enjoyed your blog and pics. I know you must enjoy the scenery on your hikes. I have Johnny Depp pic as Capt Jack Sparrow as a screen on my smartphone. I really like his acting. Glad you had a nice day. Thank you for taking the time to post.

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TIMOTHYNOHE 11/30/2012 12:28AM

    I looked at the pictures before I read your text. I said to myself "Canyonlands/Arches Utah"

I have seen it used in movies many times as a stand in for Grand Canyon. That's probably because It's a broader vista, more to see. I especially love the confluence of the Green and Colorado Rivers. What a sight!

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FLORNH 9/18/2012 2:21AM

    Beautiful hike! The southwest is the only part of the US I haven't visited. Hikes like this one are on my bucket list.

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CLAIREINPARIS 9/16/2012 6:42AM

    Wow! What a fantastic hike (and a great surprise too!)... It makes me want to hike there one day too! Thank you for sharing!

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    Too cool (except for the poor horses)! Thanks for sharing all this. :)

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ALEXSGIRL1 9/11/2012 11:42AM

    wow i would love to go hiking there bonus was seeing jonny depp glad you had a great time hugs

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ARCHIMEDESII 9/11/2012 11:38AM

    WOW ! You got to see some fantastic desert scenery AND Johnny Depp ! What a country !!

I would love to go hiking in any of the National Parks. Your photos are absolutely stunning. glad you enjoyed yourself !!

emoticon emoticon

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KAYOTIC 9/11/2012 10:14AM


Not often one gets to see Johnny Depp while hiking! emoticon

The scenery is beautiful though, I've been to a lot of the parks in Utah, but not that one, we usually stick to the western side, Zion et al....

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GHOSTFLAMES 9/10/2012 5:09AM


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Vernal, Utah...A Lovely Little Town. (Pictures)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Driving from Breckenridge to Park City today, we passed through the town of Vernal, Utah population 8300. The main street which was at least a mile long was brilliant with red, pink and white impatiens in baskets hanging from quaint lamp posts as well as stone containers along the sidewalks. It was very impressive and really made me want to know more about this town. I went to the Chamber of Commerce web site where I found pictures and the following information:

The Vernal Main Street flower planting project began with the Community Development Committee of the Vernal Area Chamber of Commerce in 1986. Sidewalk planters were purchased by the Chamber and by local Main Street Businesses. The Chamber coordinated with a local nursery to provide a pre-selected assortment of flowers. The Chamber purchased the flowers, Chamber volunteers planted the flowers and the businesses that had the planters were invoiced and did watering and fertilizing of the plants.

Following the first year, Vernal City agreed to have their Public Works Department take care of the watering and fertilizing of the plants and continue to do so today.

Each year more businesses have become interested in having planters by their facilities. Vernal City is now the owner of the planters on Main Street and have placed them at regular intervals from 500 East to 500 West. Vernal City replaces those planters that are damaged and purchases all of the flowers for the planters. At last count there were almost 900 sidewalk planters on and around Main Street.

I think this is just wonderful and it certainly shows what a town with creative thinkers can do to keep small town America alive. Congratulations Vernal, Utah; driving down your main street gave me great pleasure!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIMOTHYNOHE 11/30/2012 12:32AM

    Wow! You seem to have my 2001 itinerary! We visited Vernal UT and toured Dinosaur National Monument. Then we (that would be the boys and I) went to Dinosaur CO to send a postcard home.

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GRANNYQUINN 7/29/2012 10:29AM

    I just adore a City or Town that takes pride in showing their assets. Looks like you had a wonderful drive, look forward to seeing more adventures from you in the future.
Thank-you for visiting the laugh station , my blog. One needs a sense of humor in life. Hugs Karen You are always welcome to visit emoticon

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ALEXSGIRL1 7/18/2012 4:05PM

    wow thanks so much for sharing such a beautiful place with us to bad it so far away I would love to go see it person. thanks again for the info and blog

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CLAIREINPARIS 7/18/2012 10:39AM

    These flowers are beautiful! It must be amazing to see!

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KRISTINE99 7/15/2012 8:19PM

    Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos!

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JUDYAMK 7/15/2012 9:35AM

    A most lovely town. That is sure saying something about the people in the community that got together to create this beauty for themselves, but for others also passing through to enjoy. Thank you so many for showing me a part of our America I will probably not get to see.

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NANCYRUBIO 7/15/2012 3:10AM

    Oh, your pictures are so lovely. Really saw beauty in them.

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FITANDFIFTY2 7/15/2012 2:11AM

    Oh the flowers are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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