The Amazing Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, San Francisco Peaks and Sedona, Grand Canyon
Amazing does not cover it. From desert to Tundra in less than 50 miles.
Flagstaff is at 7,000 feet. Sedona from 4,5oo to 3,000 feet. San Francisco Peaks 12,633 feet. I have skied at 10,000 feet in the morning and by afternoon been swimming in Oak Creek at 3,000 feet. And I did that a lot skipping school. Amazing is just not accurate but the best I can do. Can you imagine climbing to 12,000 when you were 10 years old. Of course the Grand Canyon was only 90 minutes north.
Perhaps I should start with my birth. It was at 7,000 ft. Flagstaff at that time was 12,000 people the only larger town was 150 miles away on a two lane road - some dirt. There were horses in town and hitching posts. I first remember seeing a covered wagon at around four -- of course it had Firestone tires. I road on a working coal fired steam locomotive used for logging.. Logging, Cattle and Sheep were the industries. We did have the big Atchison, Topeka and Santa fe railroad and route 66 was the main drag through town.
So you see Flagstaff was isolated We ran about 15 years behind big cities. I think by the sixties we could get two TV channels but only for 12 hours a day. Radio was still huge.
We had a house that only had two titles before us. And some land bought from the original homesteaders.
Well that was all when I was real young, We grew up quick in the sixties. Because of the railroad started running something like Amtrack and 66 got popular.
One of my playgrounds
So in late March or so we would ditch school.
We would load the back of my 53' chevy pickup with skies and coolers and and swim gear. And fishing gear maybe sometimes a rabbit rifle. We would drive to the Snowbowl and ski until the snow got slushy then jump back in the pickup and drive forty miles down to below Sedona and go swimming, fishing and on the other side of the creek maybe do some rabbit hunting (do not think Easter bunnies here these are a pest that destroy the habitat and are not indigenous)
Then load back up and head to some family land as in this picture below and cook up what we got that day.
Life was hell. I cannot tell you how tough it was. I cannot believe I survived my adolescence ;-)
Red Rock Country and Oak Creek Canyon
One time a buddy of mine and I decided that we could walk run down a full 8,000 feet in one day.
That is the crazy stuff we did. We made it but could hardly walk for a week after. We often road our bikes from Flagstaff to Sedona. My brother ran it in under 4 hours once. Hundred foot Ponderosa pines pines and field of grass as high as your shoulders. Real Cowboys and real Indians that rode horses for a living. Clear day views for 500 miles.
I still remember hand pumping gas into that Chevy and not wearing shoes for days on end.
I was around eight and explained to mom that my buddy Todd and I were packing some gear and headed up over Mars hill to see how far we could get in two days hiking and then come back. So mom helped pack us up gave us kisses and said good luck. I know we hiked for four days and camped for three and never did see a road, a house or anything but woods and meadows and Aspens and animals. We were pretty hungry when we got back. Found out later that Todd's dad (who was our scout master) followed us the whole way. But they never let us know, at the time.
Those days are gone for ever but the Amazing beauty remains
I will try to pass along some of the stories to my children
I take them to the places I mention and if the care to listen tell them how it was. But the cool part is they all love the land and it is still amazing and they seem to get as much joy out of it as I did. All but the youngest has hiked deep into the Grand Canyon and hiked up to the saddle atop the peaks and swam in Oak Creek and fished for supper and done a lot of sleeping under the stars. I reckon if you don't know what you missed you cannot miss it. And they are still in awe of the amazing natural beauty that I still call home..
So as is my want I will end with some thoughts
Appreciation of nature and it's wonders is not taught it is experienced. Love of nature is in all of us it just gets beat out of some of us. Northern Arizona in the high country reminds that man is very small but can do great things. If you travel there and are not in awe then you have a serious flaw.
And a closing note that I did not get into here. My native American Indian friends from their hold many places within the places I spoke of in high reverence. They were gracious enough to share the legends and beliefs with me growing up. I do not believe I ever desecrated a sacred space of theirs. And if I did I am eternally sorry for that.