Hot! Off Road in Flagstaff




My climbing buddy Josh is living in Flagstaff this summer – the lucky break you get when you’re a teacher with two months off. He spends his days alternating between hiking the forests and canyons of Northern Arizona, drinking beer and sleeping. I visited him for a weekend and had trouble keeping up. I blame it on the altitude.

Our first day had a slow start with a big breakfast and more climbing misadventures on Fatman Boulders. We missed the good stuff and were disappointed at the less than remote area – across the street from the mall.

We left the boulders at 2pm, but Josh was hardly finished for the day. After lunch and some downtime, he found two geocaches on the backside of the San Francisco Peaks. Soon, we were driving through the aspen following the GPS to Red Mountain.

Red Mountain is a volcanic, cresent-shaped, cinder dome. Different than most, it is half exposed because of a slide, leaving unusually pockets and hoo doos in the open area. The hike was short and only to the base. We looked around, took pictures, then moved on to the next destination – Maverik hill.

As we turned off the main road, Josh instructed me to look out for wildlife. No sooner out of his mouth, I spotted prong horns leaping away from the noise of the car. Soon they were joined by elk cows. Wow! It was like being on safari. As we moved through the forest, I noticed a large buck with a huge multipoint rack. We stopped the car and it considered us for a moment before running off into the trees – amazing to see something so large move so fast, we were more amazed to see it joined by yet another buck.

The trees cleared to a meadow sprinkled with fallen trees snapped off like twigs from a fire a few years back. We made our way up the hill – a technical 4 wheel road – and reach the summit. Josh was excited. Not many people had driven all the way to the top. The sun was starting to set and we took pictures in the soft light, found the geocache, and started back down the hill.

Rather than exit the way we came in, Josh continued through the meadows speeding through a nice single track road. We saw more elk, but as we turned a corner, scared off a pair of cows on the left. They ran along side the car quickly over taking it and crossing the road ahead of us, diving under branches on the other side. I flet like I was in Jurassic Park!

The rest of the ride we saw wild turkeys and plenty of jackrabbits. We reached the main road after dark and road quiet and hungry back to Flagstaff.

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