It’s been a great weekend, and I still have half of it left. Friday night I went for a good run around the rim of a nearby mesa. Flagstaff is green and wildflowers are blooming everywhere. The evenings spent in the shadow of the mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. I set up the patio furniture a week ago; I’ve been utilizing it every chance I get. This town is still a speck on the way to the middle of nowhere, but I’m beginning to understand why people stake down here. The skies are always clear, the sun always shining. It rains a few times a year, and snows a bunch, but the sun is never far away. Even during the monsoon.
It rains almost every day and this seems to put Flagstaff people in a very good mood. Monsoons are the only rain we get all year, with all other precipitation coming from snow. I’d like to get back on the mountain bike but thunderstorms come up so fast and frequently in the mountains this time of year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to ride soon.
This morning I hiked Kendrick Mountain, a 10,400’ peak outside of Flagstaff. It’s fairly remote, with only serious hikers braving several miles of dirt roads and nine miles of hiking. The lower part burned in a forest fire a decade ago but the groundcover has recovered and there were thick ferns, grass, and wildflowers where trees had once stood. Higher up, the forest was still intact. I started at the same time as a retired college professor from Tennessee, and ended up walking the entire 4.5 miles uphill in conversation with him. He was a member of several hiking clubs and showed me some camping spots, a spring, and a cabin near the summit built in 1911—complete with bunks—that is still open for public use. It would be a pristine camping location, and I want to return again. At the summit we watched the thunderheads roll in, then I bid goodbye to my companion and ran back to the car. I passed through a few misty clouds above 9,000’ but soon dropped below the clouds and was able to beat the rain back to the car.
More information on the Arizona monsoon here: http://phoenix.about.com/cs/weather/a/monsoon01.htm