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Flagstaff Hiking and Biking; Bismarck Lake; Walnut Canyon; Aspens; Backpacking Dachshunds; Sedona Side-Trip; Las Vegas Friends and Verite

Flagstaff has always been one of our favorite places, and having great friends there makes it extra special. Janean Quigley and Suzanne hit it off really well, both metaphysically and “PT-physically”. Both gals love to hike and bike, and trying to keep up with them is getting to be more than tough… it’s almost impossible! Here we are on a “mellow” mountain bike ride near Mormon Lake, southeast of Flagstaff.

I did a solo overnight on the Arizona Trail, which has few water resources. Janean kindly carried extra water for me before returning to her car; her Labradoodle Luna is an amazing hiking dog, with unbounded energy.

I set up camp at Bismarck Lake, under some trees that provided some relief from the sun. I was the only overnighter here; I was surprised, because it’s a pleasant spot to camp. Dinner was freeze-dried sweet and sour pork, while breakfast was biscuits and gravy (also freeze-dried). These meals in a bag only require adding boiling water and waiting 8-9 minutes; that beats carrying all the ingredients, which would be about 2-3 times the weight of the prepared meal.

The view from my tent was impressive. Bismarck Lake (in summer, the size of a small pond) actually had some water in it, but local residents (elk, mule deer, skunks, rabbits, birds, etc.) use it as a primary water source, and (a) I didn’t want to use their limited water supply; and (b) they also tend to poop and pee in the lake, so water quality could be, shall we say, problematic.

This photo with the San Francisco Peaks in the background was to prove to My Lovely Bride that I wasn’t at Hooters… but I probably could have convinced her that I had been out hiking by showing her the worst blister I have ever had on my left middle toe. (I refrain from showing it on this blog because it was really gross…)

While in Flag, we had an RV meet-up with our friends Jim and Diane. It was their first time here, so we took them to Walnut Canyon National Monument. The main trail taking visitors past the 25 cliff dwelling rooms was closed, but we got a short hike in on the Rim Trail. The river (dry in summer) is 350 feet below the rim. The pre-Columbian Sinagua (literally “without water”) people lived here from about 1100-1250 A.D. Historians think that they abandoned these cliff dwellings because of threats from other nearby tribes.

While driving through part of Flagstaff near the mountains, I was amazed to see hundreds of sandbags protecting residential homes. There was a serious fire on the slopes above this area a year or two ago, and when the summer monsoon begins, there can be 2 feet of muddy runoff cascading down the streets. 

Aspen trees (Populous tremuloides) are common in Flagstaff (elevation 6,970 ft), and we love to hike through groves of these beautiful trees. They are often part of a cloned colony sharing a common root system, and grow to about 80 feet in height. The ferns at the base of these aspens are about four feet tall.

This lovely hiker is obviously happy to be in the aspens…

An aspen grove is an excellent place to meditate!

Suzanne introduced Nellie to hiking by carrying her in a backpack for a couple of miles and letting her walk the third mile; she did GREAT! Rudy, being over 15 years old, preferred to be carried……

Our final hike in Flag for this year took us to Sandy’s Canyon Trail, named after a friend of Janean’s. The scenery was terrific, and it was a fitting finish to a fabulous two week stay…

A short side trip to Sedona allowed us to enjoy (even briefly) the incredible red rock scenery of this beautiful area between Flagstaff and Phoenix. 

We had lunch at Butterfly Burger, a “couture burger lounge” created by Chef Lisa Dahl, a good friend of Suzanne’s. The food was amazing – real gourmet hamburgers with ingredients that were perfectly selected to make your taste buds explode, and served in a setting that was sexy and stylish. This picture greets you at the door… if you’re ever in Sedona, it’s well worth a visit.

We departed Flag headed west to Las Vegas, where we stopped for two nights to have dinner with Jerry Facciani and Karen Barret Facciani. As we were getting out of the car, they met us in full bio-warfare facemasks… what cards they are! Fortunately, Jerry allowed us all to go mask-free so we could enjoy two gourmet dinners and some of the finest wine we have ever had, 97 and 98 point Verite La Muse and La Joie. Jerry and Karen are true oenophiles

We would have liked to have spent more time with Jerry and Karen, but it was getting HOT! We struck camp and headed north to Hurricane, Utah, near Zion National Park, one of the most spectacular places on the planet… but more on that in my next post. Ya’ll come back, ya hear?


  • Anonymous
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:02 am

    I love this blog. I get to see places I will never be able to go to. Happy faces in happy places. I'll keep dreaming though! Stay well!

  • sue lemure
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:02 am

    So awesome every single step thankyou

  • Brad
    Posted November 22, 2020 at 1:02 am

    Beautiful country in the SW. Safe travels and watch out for wildfires! Brad


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