Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The "Big Dipper," Poland Creek canyon

Saturday I did a hike I've been wanting to cross off my list for awhile.  Poland Creek, a granite-lined creek tumbling down from the high country of the Bradshaws, offers up some nice pools and pseudo-narrows.  On a summer day, there's no finer attraction.

The trip requires a 25-mile drive up a well-maintained dirt road, almost all the way to Crown King.  Along the drive, I happened to catch the distinctive orange and black of a gila monster crossing the road.  This was a real thrill, as the Gila Monster is such an iconic Arizona creature, and I've never seen one before in 15 years of Arizona hiking.  I stopped to snap a few pictures, then continued on, with the day already a win in my book.

The Algonquin trail was closed due to the Gladiator fire, which had burned through much of the brush in the area.  After a 25 mile drive, though, I wasn't about to turn around.  The fire actually was a blessing, as it burnt away much of the bushwhacking that was formerly required on this trail.

On reaching the creek bottom, I preceded downstream and before too long reached the Big Dipper.  A bypass on the north side of the creek delivered me to the pool.  Unfortunately, the waterfall was merely trickling, but the pool at the base of the falls was excellent and I spent a good hour swimming.

The 1000 foot climb out was brutal, especially with no shade, and consumed a lot more time than I expected.  On reaching the top, I detoured the few more miles to Crown King to pick up a well-deserved soda.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Peavine trail, Prescott

Short entry today.  Last Saturday my girlfriend and I headed up to Prescott for the day.  Part of the agenda included a hike on the Peavine trail.  This is a rail-trail that skirts the eastern shoreline of Watson Lake.  Being a rail trail, its flat and arrow-straight, but the views over the lake were nice enough.  At the north end of the lake, the trail connects to a network of trails in the Granite Dells.  We did a short portion of the Lakeshore trail, and it was here that things got interesting, as the trail dipped in and out of the rock formations.  I'd likely return to do more hiking here, though I would probably bring a bike as a tedium-reduction device for the first stretch along the actual Peavine trail, as there's no particular reason to recommend hiking this route over biking.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Granite Mountain

I took advantage of the holiday weekend this Sunday to head up to Prescott to hike in the Granite Mountain Wilderness.  Despite living in Arizona for years, I've done very little hiking in the Prescott area - Sedona and Payson have both offered more compelling alternatives.  That said, I've been wanting to see Granite Mountain for some time and the holiday weekend, with its unseasonably cool temperatures, was the perfect opportunity.

The trail itself is marvelous.  Although exposed, it maintains a nice grade all the way up the mountain.  A quick hour is enough to gain Granite Mountain saddle, and from here forward the hike is nice and shady, through tall pines and grassy meadows.  The trail ends at Vista Point, a series of rock slabs looking out over Prescott.  While the view is nothing spectacular, being mostly bush- and chaparral-covered ridgelines, its a worthwhile reward for the hike up.  I'd put the hike at about a 7/10 total.  Nothing spectacular, but the combination of good views, protected wilderness and well-engineered trail add up to a good overall package that is well worth the drive from Phoenix.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Boynton Canyon, Sedona

This was my most recent hike (two weeks ago), so seems like a good place to start off the blog.  Boynton Canyon is located just outside Sedona.  Its a super-popular hike, being put at the top of most "Best Hikes in Sedona" lists.  Its very easy, scenic, and a supposed vortex location.  This translates into major crowds.  I did the hike on a Friday to minimize the crowds, and would recommend this.  There were still many people, at least a dozen different groups, but not so much that it detracted from the experience.  I imagine this would be different on the weekends.

After getting past the Enchantment Resort, which the first mile of the trail skirts, the trail drops into the canyon.  Here it is easy to see why the hike is so popular.  Large ponderosas crowd the canyon floor, offering shade and tranquility.  The trail is great cruising trail, being almost perfectly flat.  Its the hiking equivalent of candy.

The only substantial climb comes at the end. Boynton Canyon boxes up, and the trail ascends briefly to end at a Supai sandstone bench, with ok views back over the canyon.  There are some nice canyon walls here that remind me of the walls around the Emerald Pools in Zion, though less stunning.  Still, its a nice enough reward for the hike in, and the hike out again is pure pleasure.


Welcome to my corner of the web.

My intention is to use this blog to post about hiking.  Primarily, I intend to post trip reports with photos and potentially video.  I may also post various ramblings, gear reviews, and other stuff as time goes by.  Right now I'm not completely sure what this blog will become, if anything, but feel like keeping an online journal of my hikes might be fun to do.

For basic information, I'm a 32 year old male who lives in Phoenix Arizona.  I've been backpacking and hiking for about 15 years.  In the year 2000, I hiked a thousand mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail.  On the trail, I was christened with the trail name "Lizard," hence the blog title. Since then, I've explored all around the western US.  The actual amount of time I spend hiking has waxed and waned over the years, but its continued to be my #1 interest, and has lost little of its fascination over time.  In the last two years, there's been a big increase in how much hiking I'm doing.  I'm making more money now, and that's increased my range, allowing me to spend time exploring areas in Southern Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, not just Arizona (for the record, the above photo was taken in August 2011, in Wyoming's Wind River Range, just east of Knapsack Col).  I'm planning some bigger trips, including a long solo backpack in the Canadian Rockies this summer, so it seems like a fortuitous time to start up a blog. 

Ok, enough for now.  To close out, here's a photo of my girlfriend in the Subway at Zion National Park, where we visited a few weeks back.  Hopefully, we'll have lots more stuff like this to add in future posts.