Sunday, October 28, 2018

Wash Walking in Cottonwood and Sedona

Geez, I was doing so good posting here...then we moved down to Cottonwood and all my good intentions to post regularly went out the window!

Prescott sits at around 5,300 feet elevation, so we'd planned to move down to Cottonwood (at 3,500 feet) in October before it starts getting super cold at night. This way we're less than an hour from Prescott to easily continue our home search.

We've been hiking daily in both Cottonwood and Sedona and it seems just about every trail has included a lot of walking in washes. The heavy monsoon season the area experienced this year, coupled with some recent thunderstorms have kept many washes damp and lush with green growth and some major washes have been swept by massive flash flooding.

We're staying at the brand new Rain Spirit RV Resort in Cottonwood, and while our site is definitely too close to the neighbors, the park is clean and convenient to all the Verde Valley has to offer.


View of Dry Creek Wash from the Chuckwagon Trail in Sedona.

So many colorful views in Sedona!

Hans is showing how high the water got in Dry Creek Wash during summer monsoons!

We added the spur to Devils Bridge onto our Chuckwagon loop...
braved the crowds on this popular trail, now I can say "been there, done that".

We can access the Verde River just half a mile from our RV park and follow a trail into Tuzigoot National Monument and on into Dead Horse Ranch State Park for a nice 4+ mile hike.

The Verde River is flowing higher than we've ever seen it.

Enormous old Fremont Cottonwood.

Exposed honeycomb.

Turtle in one of the lagoons at Dead Horse Ranch SP.

Morning reflection on Dead Horse Ranch lagoon.

The Cliffrose trailhead off Mingus Ave. on the eastern edge of Cottonwood has turned out to be a nice place to hike on days we don't want to drive far. Though it doesn't seem like much at first glance, it turns out there are several small trails that head off the main loop and go for miles into the surrounding desert. We've managed a couple of five mile loops and can easily add mileage if we want to.

One gray day not long after a good rain we decided to walk up a wash off the Cliffrose trail.
This wash, like many in the area, has a sudden drop off a limestone ledge as it cuts through the desert.

Another limestone pour over...
sometimes in deep washes they are difficult to bypass, this one was easy to navigate.

The plants are all very happy from all the rain they've received this year.
Abundant animal prints tell us the critters are happy too!

Love all the colors and textures in this landscape!

Grasses soften this section of wash.

We saw perhaps a dozen of these large holes dug under bushes in the wash...I wonder who lives here?

The unassuming beginning of a wash.

There are still patches of flowers scattered throughout the desert thanks to all the water received this summer.

We hiked the Girdner Trail in SW Sedona one day to experience another section of Dry Creek Wash. It was easy to see there had been severe flash flooding during monsoon season.

We could tell this large wash had flooded at least six feet deep...probably more!

All the grass on the left was flattened by rushing water.

One of the first signs of fall we've seen, with six feet of debris washed up against it.

The last hike we did was a repeat of a favorite Sedona hike: Hangover Trail. This time we chose to hike the loop portion clockwise, giving us the steep uphill early in the hike when it was nice and cool. What a difference from the last time we hiked this trail...in March with Linda on a very blustery, cold day!

We gain our first saddle and views of NE Sedona open up before us.

Traversing the Hangover.

Nearing our second saddle, Hans stands under a Hangover.

Almost there!

From the saddle it's almost impossible to see the trail we'd just traveled in the line of forest just below the top.

We make our way across the top of the slope on the other side of the saddle.

One more wash to follow as we make our way back to Munds Wagon Trailhead.

Happy trails!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Postcards from Prescott

We've been in Prescott for over three weeks now. We're grateful summer seems to be over and the daytime temps are now in the 60's, making our daily hikes really pleasant. Hurricane Rosa came through and drowned some parts of AZ but Prescott only got enough rain to keep the dust down for a little while.

We remain in a holding pattern on the house search, waiting for something interesting to come on the market. We've discovered that it's pretty easy to find a good sized lot and home, at a good price, with excellent RV parking out in Chino Valley, about 10 - 15 miles north of Prescott...we just don't know if we want to be in Chino.

Here's a look at some of what we've seen and done in the past week or so...


We love having access to the granite fields of Watson Lake right from our RV park (Point of Rocks RV).
We goof around on the boulders every single day!

I'd seen plants that look like wild grapes on every hike near water
and finally found proof that's what I was seeing!

We've been listening to cicadas ever since we arrived in Prescott.
They are usually high in the tops of the trees, I finally got a good look at one!

They sure are noisy, but we've gotten used to the sound.

Morning warm up.

Another morning sun bather.

Reflections on Watson Lake.
They are having a pretty serious algae bloom right now.

We hiked some of the new Storm Trails on Hans' birthday.
Here's a terrific resting spot on the Easter Island trail.

Boulder Creek still had some monsoonal moisture in the rocky sections.


If this Black Tailed rattlesnake had not warned us of its presence we'd never have seen it in the brush off trail.

Once we'd located the snake we were able to spend several minutes admiring it from afar.

Beautiful colors.

Hans had a tasty birthday dinner at the Barley Hound.
The free birthday bread pudding was incredible!

Fabulous fins on the Constellation trails.

Snake on a big old oak tree.

There are thousands of Acorn Woodpeckers in this area so I was surprised to see a Red-naped Sapsucker.

My dad stopped by for a few nights on his way home from his summer in Alaska!

That's the latest from Prescott!



Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Quartz Mountain, Temporary Streams and Camouflaged Critters

Our second week in Prescott has been filled with hiking (as usual) and exploring various neighborhoods to learn what parts of town we'd like to live in. We've looked at a few houses but none have been The One. Now it's a waiting game to see if anything interesting comes on the market.

Hans has also played pickleball a couple of times at the outdoor courts at Pioneer Park where there are eight brand new, dedicated pickleball courts with plans to add four more. We like that Prescott takes their pickleball seriously!

One of the more interesting hikes we did this week was a six mile out-and-back hike to Quartz Mountain, aka White Spar. From the Aspen Creek trailhead we took pretty forested trail #48 to sunny exposed trail #9415, to #9415A which got us up onto the unique quartz formation.

The entire top of this small mountain is quartz!

Terrific views of Prescott while standing on all that quartz.

This photo captures maybe a quarter of the exposed quartz.

Milky white quartz and spiky cactus.
I'd love to see the cactus blooming against the quartz!

Horned toads seem to be abundant in the Prescott area...but are hard to see unless they move!

We enjoy hiking from the Williamson Valley trailhead and one day decided to hike trail #308 as far north as we felt like going before turning around and finishing up with a loop back to the TH via trails 345 and 347...about a 5.5 mile hike.

As we headed north on trail #308 we crossed Mint Wash and entered terrain burnt in the 2013 Doce Fire. Granite boulders became part of the landscape and, much to our surprise, we came to a small stream flowing down the mountain.

Once the stream hit Mint Wash it quickly disappeared into the sand. An old timer on the trail told us this stream usually only runs after a good snowfall or a heavy monsoon season like they had this year. What a delight to find water in the high desert when you least expect it!

From the Williamson Valley TH we cross a meadow lush with monsoonal grasses, watched over by Granite Mountain.

Here is the same area in April 2018, after several years of drought.

Approaching the burn zone: layers of green grass, skeletal trees and blue sky.


A seasonal oasis in the high desert.
The old timer we met on the trail said he once saw dozens of baby snakes in this pond, we only saw tadpoles.

The stream abruptly disappears into sandy Mint Wash.

We saw many signs of life around the stream.

Camouflaged toad.

We're still experiencing unseasonably warm temps so more forest hiking is in our near future, but if the weather guessers are right things will get a little more comfortable next week and maybe even a little bit wet...we shall see.

Acorn woodpeckers are abundant in the Ponderosa forests.



Not something you see every day...

...but when driving through the big valley north and east of Prescott
there's a good chance you might see Pronghorn in the open prairie.