Thursday, February 19, 2009
Some more things I just want to remember for myself...
We are starting to get into a bit of a routine. I am trying to do some painting in the morning and then, when the sun comes up over canyon walls, we will take our lunch and go for a hike.
I think I am finished with my view of Sugarloaf Mountain, on the left. I blocked in the painting from the same spot as Michael's pastel, below, and took a reference photo for the shadows, etc. I modified the original a bit and tried to follow the lights and darks from the photo. I'd say I'm done, at least for now. I'll let it percolate a bit and see if it needs anything else later.
I've got a couple of other paintings that are near done and I started another one yesterday morning.
But, yesterday, we decided to check out Palatki ruins. These are ruins that are built into the canyon walls and date from 900 years ago. They were inhabited by the Sinaqua (spanish for "without water") for a couple hundred years. There are lots of these ruins, in various condition, around the area. There are also pictographs that have been carbon dated to be 12,000 years old. I think I heard that correctly. It is a bit of a climb to get to the ruins, see photo.
But, once you get there, it is worth it. The docent was full of great information. He is a retired tennis court installer from Prescott and now works for the forest service as a guide. Most of what you see is the original walls of the home. They have repaired a few things but not much. The stones are held together with mud. The homes were completely sheltered by the overlay of the canyon so they never got wet. Otherwise, the "mortar" would have become mud again and the homes would have crumbled.
Tuesday afternoon, we decided to check out Fay Canyon. In some guide books it is noted as a "personal favorite" so it was worth checking out. They were right. It is an easy hike through a canyon that opens up a bit so you can see both sides. There are beautiful views around every bend in the trail. The trail winds through the canyon for about 1 1/4 miles until it reaches the end in a box canyon. At least, it looked like the end as there were huge blocks of rock that had fallen from the cliff walls blocking the way. At that point we turned around and took in the sites from the opposite direction.
When we left Fay Canyon, we had plenty of sunlight and time on our hands so we (I) decided to take one of the paths that lead off the dirt road for an adventure. We have a Forest Service map and a hand made map from one of the off-road places. So, we found a trail marked as FR152A (Forest Road 152A) and decided to give it a try. The forest service map rates the roads as Easy, Moderate, Difficult, Extreme. This trail started as Difficult and then became Extreme. But, when in Rome...
The first part was pretty difficult. We passed through open areas with lots of cows as well as ruts, rocks and arroyos. There were lots of dried up river beds we had to go down into and climb out of. After a while of struggling along this trail we took a break to enjoy the scenery.
The hand made map had a narrative telling when the Extreme part would begin.(Extreme definition from Forest Service map, "Not advisable for novice drivers. Maximum ground clearance, four-wheel drive, low gears required. Jacks and winches may be needed.") The difficult part ("Warning! Use at own risk", from the off-road map) began after an old cattle pen and loading ramp leftover from old cowboy movies that were filmed here. We hadn't seen the pen but figured we must have missed it somewhere along the way while concentrating on the driving. But, no, all of a sudden we came to the pen. We thought, What? That wasn't the hard part we just went through? Judy suggested we turn back but I didn't want to go over what we had just done, so we forged ahead. This part was much more difficult than the previous section. The first major obstacle to climb was a hill with huge boulders in the middle of the trail. The thing to think about in off-roading is making sure you can clear anything, so you try to get your wheels on high points so the under carriage clears the rocks. I drove up the side of the path with the left wheels on the slant of the path and the right wheels on the rocks. It was the first time I thought we might roll the Jeep. But, we recovered and made it to the next challenge.
There were many such challenges and I didn't think it could get any worse until we hit a very steep downhill into a riverbed. The map comment said, "..drops into "the gulch". Take a moment on each side of the gulch to appreciate what you are about to do and/or what you just did by driving through it." I'll add that this off road outfit rents the dune-buggy type 4 wheel drive vehicles. So, we took a second to appreciate what we were about to do. I thought this had to be "the gulch". But, wait.
Anyway we "serpentined" our way down the slope and started up the other side when I saw a Jeep from Pink Jeep in my rear view mirror. I felt better knowing that if we had any problems, another Jeep might pass by within a day or so. We had water and trail mix. I pulled off the path and let the Pink Jeep pass me. I thought I could profit by taking the same route, but they have bigger tires and more clearance than my Jeep so they don't have to be as picky abut the path. I kept it in sight so I could beep my horn for help if something happened. It was only 50 yds ahead of me when it stopped and then it dropped out of sight, bouncing from side to side as it disappeared from view. I got to the top of the hill and saw it picking its way down a slope that must have been 60 degrees with a equeal climb out on the other side. I had to follow as I was getting a bit nervous about being abandoned out there.
Once again, I made my way down the slope with Judy calling out the navigation over the boulders. There wasn't much room to maneuver as there was a wall on the left and a cliff on the right. I didn't think we would get hung up as it was so steep that I thought, even if I hit bottom, the momentum would carry me downhill. We only bottomed out a couple of times. Needless to say we made it. This was the famous "Gulch" from the map. I stopped to take one quick photo of the gulch before chasing down the Pink Jeep. I didn't want to stop for too long and lose sight of any potential resuce vehicle.
We caught up to the Pink Jeep as they took a break at the top of a trail to take in the panoramic view. We stopped for minute to catch our breath and then took off to finish the trail. The remainder was still difficult, but compared to the Gulch it was a piece of cake. When we got to the end, I pried my hands from the Steering wheel and Judy said, "I'm ready for a cappuccino." We both said that we need to take that trail again before we leave.
On the way back to Sedona, we took some photos of the big western sky. This is an expansive view we don't get to see too much in New England.