Well, a bunch of stuff that has admittedly kept me from writing enough...
After a week of working trail crew, I got an offer to teach Chemistry at the Basis Charter School in Flagstaff. I promptly took the offer, and believe it or not teaching keeps me pretty busy. I am currently teaching Honors/AP Chemistry, 8th grade Chemistry, 6th grade Chemistry, and I am the College Counselor.
I stay pretty busy outside the classroom, too, exploring the amazing landscape around me. Over Thanksgiving break, Peter - a seasoned Math Teacher at Basis and Grand Canyon Lover (with a resume of over 2,000 miles of canyon hiking) - took me on the trip of a lifetime through the Grandest of Canyons for five nights.
After that, it was time for me to get my first mountain bike. I bought a Salsa El Mariachi Frame, set it up singlespeed, and started shredding in one of the most gorgeous places in the world that, luckily, happens to be 30 miles south of Flagstaff - Sedona. Because Sedona is only around 4,000 ft. in elevation, it stays 70 degrees and sunny while Flagstaff is covered in snow. In fact, the day I took this video it was snowing up a storm in Flagstaff...
Next there was another ultra-endurance race, this time in Sedona. I got a ride down with an art teacher who works at our school, lives in Sedona, and is the biggest hippie ever/my personal hero. I slept on the flat roof of her one-room cottage under a moon so bright that I had no need for a headlamp.
Unfortunately the singletrack in Sedona cracked my headset bearing this time, so at mile 30 I had to hike back to the nearest road and hitch a ride back to the start. On the way back to the road, though, I came across another character in my adventures - a long, grey-haired and busy-bearded Craig Bierly (http://mtbresource.com/CraigBierlyInterview.html). He was standing outside his van working on one of his bikes when I pulled up to him and struck up a conversation that was to last the next hour. We covered bikes, roaming, and life before it was time for me to head on down the road, but what an experience.
The Mogollon rim, for those of you who don't know, is a wall of 2,500 vertical feet of sandstone and limestone that is the Southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau. It is the reason that Sedona is at 4,000 ft. elevation while Flagstaff, 30 miles away, chills at 7,000 ft.
Anyway, we climbed up and over Cambell mesa on USFS trails until we reached another drainage - Railroad Draw. At this point, I had run out of water... And we were dry camping. The Draw was dry (as almost all Southwestern drainages are except in flash floods), and things were looking a little grim. Luckily, we found an old cattle tank filled with murky green, algae filled water and filtered it until we were good to go.
We camped close to the Draw the first night and in the morning set off up another mesa. We eventually veered off-trail all together and relied on our map and the unique texture of the land to navigate our way to a north flowing drainage that eventually curved around and hit the Verde River - our destination. We had to take this north flowing drainage down because any other way we went, we would have gotten cliffed out at the river. So, we set off and after successfully descending the steep walls to the drainage, we had a very pleasant time scrambling over the stones and large boulders carried by the raging waters of flash floods of the past.
The drainage eventually carried us down to the Verde River at Perkinsville Station - an old, empty railroad station used once a day by a tourist train to transfer cars. It just so happened that when we arrived, the tourist train there! We waved, crossed over the tracks, and started off into the Verde River Canyon - a place that sees far fewer backpacking visitors than many others in this world.
For a few miles we bush-whacked and canyon-contoured, receiving more cuts and smacks in the face from a labyrinth of branches that resembled the Enchanted Forest. We decided to call it quits and break out the bourbon for the night on a bend in the Verde River.
The next morning, we decided to hop up on the Railroad tracks to get a little bit of old railroad hiking in and cover some miles while our bushwhacking wounds healed. The only tricky part was that we had no idea if the train would come steaming down the tracks or not! This concern made hiking the long, dark tunnel cut through limestone canyon-wall one section of the tracks especially exciting... Around lunchtime, when it was time for a good swim anyway, we hopped down from the tracks and resumed our river-floodplain bushwhacking adventure, and the next day eventually made it back to Sycamore Canyon, where we started.
I finished up the rest of Spring Break in Sedona again, riding trails and living the good life with Peter, Brett, and Company (both of their families, including 6 dogs and three crazy-fun kids).
To top off Spring Break, we got a nice Spring storm on Sunday night, giving us a good 2 1/2 feet of snow in Flagstaff. SNOW DAY! I went up to the mountain and snowboarded for the day with my roommate. This being my second time ever snowboarding (and the first time only getting one run in because I had snowshoed up), I figured I would stick to bunny slopes, but Jim convinced me to do a "blue" - a medium difficulty route. The lift kept going and going... It climbed up to 11,500 ft. elevation from the 9,000 where the lifts start, and at the top I saw signs pointing to four different routes to take. All of them were black diamonds. Damn him.
I did the route anyway and it turned out great! By the end of it I had gotten down the whole concept of "carving" - turning your board back and forth by shifting from toeside to heelside.
So, that is what I have been up to!