Tuesday, March 30, 2010

a place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

A dear friend and I hiked The Bell Trail last Friday. While downtown Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek may be chock full of fruits, nuts and flakes (just like a good gorp), the outlying areas around the various plateaus and otherwordly rock formations are nothing short of sensational. Okay, yes, you can still probably get mother nature to cleanse your chakras and/or fluff your aura by visiting one of the many vortices in the area, but if you're just looking for a good, basic day hike (as we were), then the azure Arizona sky is the limit. Here is what you see at the start of the first climb, heading toward the rock:

We found that March is a great time to make this hike, which is largely in full sun. Get too far beyond April and it's no doubt a scorcher.

Here are some lovely, hearty, trailside agave (I think). Any botanists out there who know better, feel free to correct me. 

And here's the rock as you pass right by and look up:

Our halfway point was a rushing creek fed by the intense run-off from all the melting snow up here in the high country. Not a bad place to have lunch, as we discovered:

Of course, now we're hooked and ready to do more. And I can't think of a more fitting way to celebrate the beautiful, sunny months to come here in our state of wide open spaces.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

the gnar

I am such a huge fan of spring, especially this year, when we're coming out of a record-breaking/really tough winter. But even I have to admit that there are some things I'm going to miss until that first snow falls again somewhere around the holidays later this year. I'm going to miss these views, for instance, and I feel lucky to have been able to enjoy them several times this season:

I have to say, I felt like an especially brave cookie this week when I was convinced (railroaded? Nah, I was definitely ready) to go all the way to the top of the mountain and ski down:

Up, up you go, and when you finally reach the summit of Agassiz (pronounced "Ag'-u-see" for you non-Northern Arizonans), you're at 11,500 feet. The first thing you see getting off the chair is the Ski Patrol building with all the emergency rescue equipment ready to go:

But what instills even more confidence are the signs at the entrance to the Backcountry (which is where most of the headline-making accidents and avalanches take place):

I especially love the skulls and crossbones. Who says the US Forest Service doesn't have a morbid sense of humor?

Then you turn around to look back at the lift, and you realize what you've gotten yourself into (Black Diamond, be-atches):

What, me worry? (Okay, yes, I am aware that I look like The Great Gazoo from the Flintstones, but as a horse girl, I'm a big believer in brain buckets):

Plus, how worried can a person really be when you look out across the horizon and see this? My house is somewhere over there in the distance:

So, I had a blast making it down to the lodge. The snow was a perfect combination of crunchy and soft - sort of like skiing on a mostly-frozen Slurpee. I've discovered that I don't like icy conditions and that even super deep powder can be a bit heavy for my taste. Before heading home to see the kids off the school bus, I got in one more run. This time, we decided to hit the Terrain Park, which is where the snowboarders like to play:

Not everyone was having a great day. This guy was later heard saying he thought he broke his collarbone:

But when it worked, it was beautiful:

We'll all have to say goodbye to the local ski season on April 11, which is when Snowbowl closes. But I like to think I have some improved skills under my belt for later this year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

gettin' my bingo on

So, I turn 40 in a matter of days.

FORTY, People.

I don't know who was more in shock last week when my sister-in-law unveiled a co-pre-birthday cake for me and my big brother (whose odometer turns over this week) - we or our parents.

"I can't beLIEVE I'm going to be 40," I whined to my mom.

"I can't believe I'm going to be the mother of a 40-year-old," she replied.


So, I wonder what the Song of my 40th year will be? It was Linkin Park's emo-hit What I've Done (a song I still love dearly) for my 39th.

Maybe I'll go with something a little more upbeat this year, something more along the lines of my general feelings on the whole turning-40-thing. I think this might do nicely: