Monday, April 30, 2018

Secret Canyon Trail, Pine Creek Wilderness

As avid hikers who lived in San Diego for decades you'd think we would have hiked every single trail within a hundred miles of the city. But there actually are a few trails left for us to explore, and Secret Canyon was a lovely new find. I think we'd missed this beauty because its total length is about 16 miles. Fortunately our buddies Martin and Estella had hiked a portion of it and were happy to introduce us to this wonderful place.

Set in the 13,000 acre Pine Creek Wilderness, the northern trail head is accessed off Old Highway 80 near Pine Valley, CA. We hiked almost three miles one way, alongside pretty Pine Creek, under the impressive Nello Irwin Greer Memorial Bridge, to a rock flume built in 1895 but never completed.

Spring is the prettiest time to hike in San Diego, and even though we've had a very dry winter Pine Creek was flowing gently, grasses were abundant, the trees were all leafed out, and the yucca blooms were exploding all over the hillsides.

Pine Creek is small but beautiful!


Chaparral covered hillsides, oak lined creek bottoms, and the fresh leaves of spring right in the creek bed.

A truly lovely day on the trail!

About 1.5 miles in we see the Pine Creek/ Nello Irwin Greer Memorial Bridge.
Named after the man who designed Interstate 8, at 450 ft tall it is among the tallest bridges in the US.

Built in 1974 it was the first segmental balanced cantilever bridge in the US.

Estella and Chelsea enjoy the beauty of Pine Creek.


The yuccas were taller than us!



The unused flume built in 1895 made a great trail barrier.

Chelsea hitches a ride on Estella.


A perfect spot for lunch.


Last look down Pine Creek as we return to our car.

We were vigilant on the trail looking for rattlesnakes and ticks. We did see one tick during our lunch stop, so all of us were careful to do a tick check post hike. Despite that, Hans felt a pain in his belly the next morning and I discovered a tick in his belly button!

It was a challenging, but successful, removal. Fortunately the tick was only attached for a short time so he is probably safe from tick borne illnesses...We saved the carcass in case he starts showing any symptoms that we need to worry about. Next time we hike we'll use an insect repellent to make sure we avoid the creepy crawly things!

Regardless, springtime hiking in San Diego is awesome and we highly recommend Secret Canyon trail!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Week In Prescott, Then Summer in San Diego

We'd planned to spend at least a month in the high desert of Arizona but when the opportunity to house sit for my dad came up we cut our stay in Prescott down to a week.

We really like Prescott, it's high on our list of places to live. We love the dozens of miles of trails right around town and the relatively mild four season climate. But so do many, many other people. Real estate, both old and new, is in high demand. Those looking for work in construction and healthcare should be able to find jobs here for a very long time...if they can find housing.

In the meantime, we don't know if Prescott area will be our landing site, but for now we really enjoyed our week long stay.

Granite Mountain anchors the western edge of Prescott., as seen from the Williamson Valley trail head.

We spied a few locals hanging out along Butte Creek.

Beautiful Watson Lake sits right behind our RV park with miles of trails through the Granite Dells.



We love that Prescott is really focused on expanding their already robust trail system.
This is a scene along the new Easter Island trail.

Watson Lake with Granite Mountain in the distance.

Approaching an old cottonwood grove on Wilson Lake.

Some of the oldest trees in this grove are home to cormorant and great blue heron rookeries.

Cormorant nests overhead.

To stay on the trails through the Granite Dells we follow the white dots...

The claret cup hedgehogs were just beginning to bloom during our stay.

Miles and miles of fantastic boulders!


Scrambling through a canyon.

An amphitheater-like viewpoint.

We like staying at Point of Rocks RV Park, many of the perimeter sites back up to a boulder field.
That's our rig in site 56F.

We delayed our departure by a couple of days because we didn't want to drive hundreds of miles in wind like this!

We left Prescott one week ago and are now settled into my dad's house in San Diego for the rest of the summer. Our RV is parked in the driveway; stowed away and out of service for the first time since we bought it in 2012.

Rosie is running around the whole house like a maniac...you'd think she was a kitten, not a 10 year old! It's weird to be in a house, we have to walk so far to do anything...makes us appreciate how functional an RV is! But having a big kitchen and washer and dryer is pretty darn nice.

While my dad makes his fifth RV trip to Alaska, I've got a garden to work in all summer long, Hans has pickleball nearby, and the neighborhood walking can't be beat because the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay are each less than a mile away as the crow flies. San Diego is not a bad place to spend the summer!

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sharing Sedona Area Favorites With Friends

We've spent quite a lot of time exploring Sedona and the Verde Valley over the past few years, it's one of our favorite places in the west. Last summer in Oregon when we hiked with our buddy Linda from Portland, we planted a seed that she needed to see Sedona some time and she'd be welcome to stay with us in March 2018.

Linda took us up on our offer and joined us for five nights in mid March. Linda is an avid hiker and photographer so we planned to take her on a whirlwind tour of our favorite spots in the Sedona/Verde Valley area.

Her visit also coincided with RVing friends Steve and Mona Liza being in the area so we invited them to join us for our first hike: the Hiline Loop. This is an awesome eight-or-so mile loop around Cathedral Rock. This time we parked at the Baldwin trail head and took Baldwin trail, to Hiline, to Slim Shady, to Templeton.

Steve, Mona Liza, Linda and Hans enjoying the views from a plateau on the Hiline Trail.

The next day we rested our legs somewhat by visiting several of the Native American sites that dot the Verde Valley. First stop: Montezuma Well, a sink hole filled with water that fell as rain on the Mogollon Rim thousands of years ago. Water in the desert always draws people and Native Americans lived here from about 1050 CE to 1425.

Cliff dwellings are built into the wall surrounding the Well, upper left.

Linda captures the beauty of Wet Beaver Creek which the Well drains into.

Our next stop was V Bar V Heritage Site, the largest petroglyph site in the Verde Valley. Security is tight at this site and access is only allowed during open hours and with a host in attendance. V Bar V is named after the former ranch property where it is located.

V Bar V contains several rock panels with hundreds of petroglyphs...and more are known to be below the surface of the soil.

Next stop: Montezuma Castle National Monument. Southern Sinagua farmers built this five-story, 20 room dwelling about 100 feet above the valley sometime between 1100 and 1300. The remains of another five-story, 45 room dwelling can be seen at ground level. Wet Beaver Creek flows near this site as well, and provided fertile farmland for the ancient peoples.

Montezuma Castle.

Our last ancient site for the the day was a visit to Tuzigoot National Monument. Another Sinagua village built between 1000 and 1400, Tuzigoot sits at the summit of a long ridge overlooking the fertile Verde Valley.

Hans and Linda stroll Tuzigoot grounds.

Since it was a Saturday we had to finish the day with a beer and live music at the Spirit Room in Jerome!

Live music every weekend afternoon at the Spirit Room in Jerome!

It was a cool 41 degrees when we arrived at Munds Wagon trail head the next day ready to hike the eight mile Hangover trail. Fortunately we all enjoy hiking in cool weather because we had a few snow flurries and gusty conditions off and on during the hike!

Hans and Linda all bundled up enjoying views of Sedona early in the hike.

As we drop into the canyon the rocks we will scrambling over loom ahead of us.

Linda captures reflections in pools left from the previous night's rain.

Linda bundled up against the cold wind as we traverse the sandstone ledges leading to a dramatic saddle.

Clouds provide an ever changing light show as we approach the saddle.

Fabulous views from the saddle.

Our trail follows the line of trees ahead of Hans.

The saddle is a stunning feature of this hike!

All sorts of interesting rocks along the way.

Rocks hanging overhead may be the reason this trail is called the Hangover.

Great views of Sedona.

Some butt scooting required to get down from the Hangover!
Follow the white marks down the rock face...

All day long we are dwarfed by the incredible formations surrounding us.

Our last full day with Linda we hiked the Hog trails...a series of double black diamond mountain biking trails that we would never consider riding, only hiking!

The usual incredible views of Sedona, this time from high on the Hog trail.

Linda taking it all in.

Hans and Linda enjoying a snack at Chicken Point.

This is the rock face above Hans and Linda's right shoulders...see that thin white line across the rock?
Google "White Line Sedona" and prepare yourself to be astounded!



We bid farewell to Linda, happy to have introduced her to this incredible area and we think she liked it too! You'll want to check out her blog in the next couple of months (it's going to take her a while to process the thousands of photos she took!). I know her photos will be amazing!

Next thing we knew, Mark and Bobbie arrived in town. We took them on a hike that starts out at busy Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte then heads off onto an unmarked trail with solitude and great views.

Mark, Bobbie and Hans and lovely Sedona for a backdrop.

Every single one of these folks we've just spent time with are friends we've made on the road! We love these connections we've made through full time RVing and blogging!