Kim, Tom & I met at the bottom of schnebly hill road in Sedona at 8:30 wed. morn 4/28/09. It was in the 60's but warming up. We climbed up schnebly, which is pretty rough, but it's wide & this early there weren't a lot of jeep tours going on. The vistas are always great here, & the visibility was pretty good.
Here are the riders:
Tom, Kim & me. Tom is on a honda xr650L, & Kim & i are on drz's.
We started at about 4500' & climbed up into the pines on the rim at about 8k'. There hadn't been much rain lately, so the roads were dry.. maybe a puddle in spots, but no snow patches like Kim & I saw last week.
We continued into the pines & got into some of the more rugged roads. Kim & i had found a shortcut from fr226 over to 91, which connected us to mormon lake, lake mary road & points north. There are spots that get pretty rocky & steep, but nothing we couldn't handle. About an hour into the ride Tom was taking off his jacket. Even though we were higher up, it was warming nicely.
Here's the shortcut: A trail across a levee that made a big pond on one of the upper meadows.
We meandered around the connecting road that goes to lake mary road.. the maps are not right, & the gps just shows us where we are. But after a few dim roads we got back on track. We got on pavement by mormon lake, then took lake mary road up to another forest road that would connect to wynona ranch road & cross I-40. The pavement was about 10 miles, then back on the dirt.
Wynona ranch road was very challenging.. it had spots where we were lumbering over volleyball sized boulders, spots with deep dried ruts, & spots that were easy.. it's a nice road. You get a break from the very gnarly stuff, but still get it. There are sections that are comparable to camp wood by prescott, for those who know the area. Some places we were riding in a wash.. with 18" drops and big boulder fields. We didn't take many pics, just tried to keep moving & stay upright!
This is about a 30 mile section up to I-40. It was also open range & we saw a few cows.. many with spring calves. Kim had ridden ahead, but these young'uns seemed intrigued by Tom & I.
I could have patted this little fellow on the head, but when the bikes roared to life, they scampered off. Tom said the guy checking me out liked moo-zuki's.
Then the maps & roads started getting confused. We'd go one way, only to back track because it was going the wrong direction. We got on a very dim road that seemed to end in another wash. We followed it until it made too steep of a drop & left us in the middle of high desert. We tried to cut over to where the road was supposed to be, but were stopped by fences, deep ravines, & fear.
Finally we found a crossable spot in the wash that wasn't too steep. We had to maneuver through trees & rocks, but made it down into the wash & climbed up the other side.
Kim & Tom let me go first.. they were hoping for a good crash shot!
It was past noon by now, and the road became more improved. We made better time the rest of the way up to townsend wynona road, & took it about 10 miles into flagstaff for lunch. We stopped at Mary's Cafe.. a nice little restaurant. Kim had missed seeing the cows, & ordered a turkey sandwich. But something in Tom & i must have triggered a deep primal yearning after our encounter with the cows, so we had hamburgers.. doubles!
By now it's about 2, so we top off the tanks & head into the navajo reservation.
Leupp road turned out to be paved all the way, so that 15 miles was fast & easy. We turned on bia 70 which was loose gravel & sand, with lots of washboarding.
There wasn't much traffic.. none on the way up.. so we could cruise right along. It was windy & very dusty, so we had to space ourselves out quite a bit.
It was about 10 miles & we came to the Little Colorado river, which runs down from the white mountains & to the Colorado river. The crossing was wide, and there wasn't much water in it.
Finally our destination!
There wasn't much water in it, but it wasn't muddy, either. We'll plan a trip earlier in the spring & see more of the snow melt. But it is an impressive canyon with terrific views.
Had the water level been up, we would have viewed the falls from the other side & not been able to cross. You could see the san francisco mountains in the distance, with some patches of snow. It was a little hazy.. we saw smoke from a distant fire blowing from west to east.
It was kind of cool how we were just riding along, crossed a little creek, then this just opened up in front of us. You couldn't see it from a distance.. in fact, the area was pretty desolate.. we were on the leeward side of the mountains & it was very dry. Even the little scrub grasses were brown.
By now it was after 3, so we made the decision to skip the upper loop to shultz pass & take the pavement home. It was about 90 miles to Sedona, & another hour for Tom to ride to Prescott. All the coconino county trucks were going home, too. They left nice dust clouds on the road out.
We went through flagstaff in rush hour traffic, then rode down oak creek canyon to sedona. It was getting chilly in flag, but warmed back up when we got to the verde valley. Tom waved & continued on his way to home.
There were no mechanical issues.. except Kim's windbreaker got caught in his rear sprocket.. good think it didn't get cold or wet.. No one crashed.. i had a near miss when i went around a gravel road too fast & couldn't make the turn.. i went through the ditch, jumped up & turned into a wash, hopped through some big boulders & somehow got back on the road as it crossed the wash. I thought for sure i was going down, but managed to stay upright.
Kim & I totalled over 180 miles, & Tom added another hundred on that. The best part of the ride was from the start to I-40. The best views were at the grand falls, even though the flow was down. I'm definitely going back.. earlier in the spring, next time.
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