Thursday, July 07, 2005

Desert Solitaire

Returned from the trip out west last night. Went a little something like this:

Flew into Vegas spent one hour at Ceasar's, fled the city in horror.
South across the desert through Searchlight, over the mountain pass and into the blast furnace valley and Laughlin. Spent the night at the condo on Thursday night. Did a 30 minute night run at Mountain View Park, overlooking the Colorado River. The dryness of the air really affected me, but it was a beautiful night so I made it work.

Friday morning drove east on I-40 to Flagstaff. Love Flagstaff!! Hip little mountain town surronded by forest and has a great bohemian downtown district. Awesome vibe. Drove south on the stunning rt. 89 into and through Oak Creek Canyon, probably the most scenic drive I've ever taken other than the million dollar highway between ouray and silverton, co. You're enveloped by the sheer cliffs covered with stands of pine, dropping along the canyon walls to the floor and Oak Creek. Stopped at Slide Rock State Park and dipped into the creek. Crazy kids doing cannonballs off the slippery rock cliffs (hence the name). Did the Sedona thing. Spires of iron- tinged red rock eroded by millions of years of water and wind into a spectrum of craggy shapes and table top mesas. Took a jeep into the desert on rough roads southwest of Sedona. Juniper, agave, scrub oak, even saw a colored lizard. Unfortunately, no rattlers (heat of day) or javelina. Stark and brutal, yet inviting.

Back to Flag. Saturday morning I was up at 5:30, 6 miles up bumpy Schulz Creek Road and into the mountains of the Cococino National Forest above the city for a run. Did the Sunset Trail loop along Brookbank. Views of the San Fransicso Peaks off in the near distance. The first mile and a half gains 900 feet, a pretty good climb for a flatlander not in peak condition such as myself. Brookband turns into runnable, pine needle covered single track. Being a midwesterner, I'm always ecstatic to get in a run in the mountains. Ended up doing two hours and could have easily spent all day running in the clean air and ponderosa pine forest.

Drove to Grand Canyon. Touristy but worth it just for the sheer awe value. My first trip to the canyon, and i can safely say its' scale cannot be put into words. Reduces you to an insignificant speck in this vast universe.

Sunday morning was one of the highlights. I had seen an advertisement for a 5k near Flagstaff, so i got up early and went. The Nuratukya'ori 5k run was on the trails around the Museum of Northern Arizona. About 80 percent of the runners were Hopi Indians. At the starting line an elder gave a Hopi prayer and sprinkled the ground of the line with dust. The prayer didn't help my speed, but it did ensure a transecendent run. Chatted with several runners along the way and one guy kept letting out these awesome, guttural war whoops. Altitude, hills, hurting leg--still finished in 29 minutes. Slow, yes, but not considering it was me running the course and we were at 7500 ft. One of the highlights of the trip.

To be continued...

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