Fall Colors Round 1 - Kachina Peaks Wilderness
A friend of my wife's recently got into backpacking, kinda out of the blue. To help her get going, we decided to put a trip on the calendar. We debated a couple different destinations, and eventually settled on Flagstaff as the best possibility for fall colors. This was a very easy hike, a quick jaunt down the Aspen Loop trail and onto the Arizona Trail, just long enough to reach a private aspen grove. We set up and basically kicked back over night. The colors were amazing, and it was nice to have a relaxing, laid back weekend.
Headdress CanyonA few weekends later, I decided to head out and knock out the first technical canyon in the Superstitions of the season. I had never done Headdress before, but based on the beta, I felt comfortable trying this one alone. Unfortunately I forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures to share. The canyon, though, was lovely, very easy and adventurous. A nice quick tour, and gets me excited about exploring some of the other Supes canyons this year.
Fall Colors, Round 2 - West Fork
The next trip I took was again with my wife. On Halloween, we drove up to Sedona to do a perennial favorite, West Fork of Oak Creek. I am so grateful that this canyon managed to survive the fires that ripped through here the prior year. West Fork is a treasure, a unique oasis that stands alone in a state full of beautiful places. Prior to this year, my wife and I had not made it all the way to the end of the trail, but this time we took the time to push through to the Subway-like section where the canyon slots up. This was DEFINITELY worth the effort. Now I really want to do the top-down backpack next year.
Finally, just this past weekend I did another trip in the Supes. For some time, I have been planning a trip down the Escalante river in 2016. This drove me to buy an alpacka raft, and some of the others who have signed up for the trip have been picking them up as well. Some of those friends were looking for an opportunity to put their new rafts to use, so three of us headed into the Superstitions. The goal was Boulderfest Canyon, which requires crossing Canyon Lake via raft. The paddle across was fun - high winds resulting in whitecaps on the lake, but the alpackas handled them with ease.
Once on the far side of the lake, we hiked quickly up over a pass, spotting a bald eagle gliding above us on the way! In the canyon, three quick drops brought us back to lake level. While short, this was a beautiful canyon with very nice narrows and fun rappels. It was very similar in quality to Headdress, but at the end of the canyon, rather than boulderhopping and bushwhacking back to the road, we instead inflated our rafts again and floated back across the lake. This made for a much more pleasant exit than usual. I would do this canyon again in a heartbeat.