A route out of Flagstaff was deemed the best, it was going to be cold at night, but the daytime temps would be tolerable. I spent a couple of evenings tracing out a route based on the Coconino Stage Race, a 235 mile, 4 day loop from Flagstaff out through Sedona, Cottonwood, Williams and back to Flagstaff. The snow would be an issue at points, but some detours were available and we would have to make do.
We had decided early on to take Sasha, our new to us rescue dog. We figured that spending the trip with us, even though it meant 4 days at a boarding kennel, was better than staying home for the entire 11 days. Reservations were made and it looked like it was coming together, mind you we have totally changed our plans 2 days before leaving, not good for someone with a propensity for over thinking everything.
We left on Thursday afternoon, a couple hours late due to my work. Made it to the top of the Tehachapi's and called it a night at 1 am. Friday saw us rolling into Flagstaff and checking out the kennel, super nice place and we were relieved and confident Sasha would be well taken care of. All the gear was packed before we left, so all we had to do on Sat morn was drop the dog off and ride our bikes for 4 days, what could be better!
After a bit of route finding we were off to find the AZT, the drop down to the Urban path was a nice way to get it started, rocky stair steps right out of the gate!
|Mary with a big smile!|
|Me above Lake Mary|
|Mary on the AZT|
|Mary on the AZT|
We rolled up and along the AZT, a trail that is at times good and bad. The good parts are really well built, swoopy , flowy stuff. The bad is open range land that has been post-holed to death from cattle or Elk, not fun. We made our way along the AZT, out past Lake Mary and around the side of Mormon Mountain. The section beyond Lake Mary is quite nice, although the trail bed was pretty soft, which made the pace a bit slower than anticipated. It was pretty cool to be following an old railroad grade, the bed of which was comprised of a massive amount of local rocks, the ties were still visible in many areas. Mary was rolling right along and having a good time on the flowy stuff.
|Old railroad grade from Flagstaff to Mormon Lake|
|Just about ran over this little guy.|
|Pretty nice sunrise.|
|Not a bad view!|
|Mary, enjoying breakfast.|
Sedona unfolded as usual, spectacular!
|Mary on Broken Arrow|
|Mary on Munds wagon Trail|
|Mary in Sedona|
|Tweitmeyer would be proud.|
|Noodling up a trail in Sedona|
The route from Red Rock State Park to Cottonwood was unknown to us, so we headed off to Lime Kiln trail, the old road from Cottonwood to Sedona. As we headed up Lime Kiln we were met with our first " Really? Why? hike-a- bike" A push up a seldom used goat trail brought us to some nice trail and roads out to Highway 89. Lime Kiln out past 89 turns to miles of sand with some nice sections of trail between, not much fun, but it does get fun as you head into Deadhorse State Park and the views were pretty impressive. Because of the problems with Mary's fork, we were off of our schedule, and we really needed to be on schedule to be back in Flagstaff early Tues.
|Out along Lime Kiln|
|Lime Kiln Trail|
|Mary on Lime Kiln|
The plan ended up getting an early start and making it to Williams the next day, a pretty tall order. I re-packed the bikes with me taking some of the weight off of Mary's bike hoping she would be able to make the long day problem free. We made our way out of town and up the at times steep dirt road towards the peak. At about the 8 mile mark the road turned to trail, rideable at first but then very steep hike-a-bike. I pushed on ahead and then came back to help Mary a few times and within an hour or so the push was over and we were on top. It was a tough push, but Mary was in good spirits considering that this was her first taste of serious loaded hike-a-bike.
The views from the top were pretty impressive, there was a hang glider launch at the top as well, one look over the edge told me those guys are absolutely nuts.
|Dirt roads on the way up Mingus mountain|
|Riding trail 105 before it gets steep.|
|The view from the top.|
|Trail 111 from the top of Mingus Mountain|
|Coming down Trail 111 from Mingus Mountain.|
|Wonderful Coyote Spring.|
|Which was a lot better then this........|
After the spring it was an old railroad grade down to the Verde River, the low point of today. More questionable water with Iodine tablets was gathered here, all we could do was laugh at our fate today. From the river it was a steady 3500' grade towards Williams, steep at times but through some wonderful country. We went through a least 4 Eco zones today with the heat of the desert giving way to cool mountain plateaus.
|You can go all the way to Canada!|
|Where we had been earlier today|
|A STEEP little push on the way out of Perkinsville|
|The mountain in the center is Mingus Mountain, from 40 miles away. We started at the bottom and went up and over. Big copper mine in the foreground. Pretty much the middle of nowhere.|
The Bill Williams Trail was the goal of the day, as we got closer it was apparent that it would be a no go. We had stopped in Williams on the way to Flagstaff to check on the snow level on Bill Williams, the folks at the ranger station reported a couple of feet of snow at the peak. We decided to see what a few days of sunshine would do for the trail. As we approached the trail, the view of snow on the southeast side told me all I needed to know. We decided to camp just outside of Williams and see what the next day would bring and go from there. We were close to 10,000' of climbing and about 70 miles in today, the fork had given us a few problems, Mary's stomach was a bit unsettled from the Iodine and we needed to stop before it got to chilly, we were at about 7,400' and although it was beautiful, the wind had picked up and we needed to be done.
|Mary's clothes line|
|Enough of these for the day......|
|Mary on her way to Williams.|
We decided the next morn. that we would take some back roads into Flagstaff, another day of technical trails were not in the cards for Mary and I wanted her to end the trip on a positive note. It was a beautiful day and the temps were perfect as we rode the dirt roads and railroad grades to Flagstaff. A ripping tail wind drove us along at a pretty good clip and early Tues. afternoon we were in Flag. A quick stop at the kennel to pick up a very happy Sasha and Mary was in the DaysInn hot tub before dinner.
All in all a pretty epic adventure. It was likely a little tougher than Mary had anticipated. I always worry about these types of things, you never know what is around the corner on routes others have laid out, not so much of a worry when it's only yourself, but when involving others, it's a bit worrisome. A couple of days off the bike should do the trick for her. Thanks to the folks who put the route and race together, we may never do it again, but I think we will remember it well.
|Mary and Sasha relaxing in Cottonwood|