A Resolution To Remember

I have always been one to follow through on my New Years Resolutions.  I think, because I don’t choose the typical: lose weight, eat healthy or exercise more……… I go for the odd, quirky, fun and challenging resolutions that I can measure and be held accountable for.  Past resolutions have been anything from “Learn something new each day” to “Write down every dream you have” – Those are fun to go back and read through sometimes!

1-2PC: @trailwith4tails (Instagram)

However, this year (2016) has been one of my all-time favorite resolutions.  My resolution was to visit, at least, one new place in Arizona, each month.  My good friend, Ashley, (@izak_the_aussie) decided to jump on board and join me, for the resolution – making it all the more fun.  This resolution gave us the opportunity and excuse to make time to visit places we have always put on the backburner because “it’s too far”, “it isn’t dog friendly” or any number of reasons why people don’t do something they want to do!

So please, keep on reading if you would like to see all of the amazing and unique corners of Arizona that we were able to discover, this year!

January – Tonto Natural Bridge

Reason for not visiting before: No Dogs Allowed

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What an amazing place this is!  The hikes are short, but the view are a plenty.  This is the largest known natural travertine bridge in the world, standing at 183 ft high, with a tunnel over 400 ft long running underneath it.  While this area is a popular tourist destination, we were able to hike downstream aways, after enjoying the main attraction, to find some solitude to relax in our hammocks.  I would highly recommend visiting this place, if you’re passing through the area, it’s quite a sight to see!

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February – Watson Lake

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t made the time yet

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Words cannot describe this Lake.  The entire hike felt like we were on another planet – perhaps a fictional planet, from Star Wars (yes, I’m a nerd).  There is a hike that takes you around the entire lake, just under 5 miles long, with multiple access point to the water.  75% of this hike is very easy going, with just a few parts that require a little rock hopping and has some inclines/declines.  The best part – dog friendly! We spent hours, on this relatively short trail, just playing on the rocks, splashing in the water and really soaking in the view.  These granite dells are truly a magical sight.  This is easily one of my favorite lakes that I have had the pleasure of exploring.  I can’t wait to take the dogs out paddleboarding, on this lake, next summer!

dsc_0532-2PC: @izak_the_aussie (Instagram)

March – Devil’s Bridge

Reason for not visiting before: Tourist attraction, constantly crowded

e-22PC: @dustydesertdogs (Instagram)

Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area.  We’ve frequented Sedona many times – but always avoided this hike, in an effort to avoid the crowds.  We did this hike on a weekday, in the hopes of a lighter crowd – but it still felt like we were waiting in a line at Disneyland for our chance to take a picture on the arch.  Despite the crowds, the hike was incredible.  It is an easy walk, until the 400 ft climb/scrambling towards the end.  Once at the top – the view of the bridge is breathtaking!  It is not nearly as narrow as it looks, once you are walking across it.  Hearing the oooohs and ahhhs from the people in line as we walked with the dogs out there was so amusing!  I took a turn jumping in one of my photos, with Chipper – which clearly terrified many of the observers who were too afraid to take a turn on the bridge!  I am so happy we took the time to do this hike…..however, there are so many other wonderful, less traveled trails in the Sedona that I doubt I will return to this one!

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April – Chiricahua National Monument

Reason for not visiting before: No Dogs Allowed, Long Drive

chira1-1PC: @izak_the_aussie (Instagram)

Arizona has such a wide variety of scenes to offer!  This place was incredibly unique and an amazement to walk on, around and underneath these massive “sky islands”.  There are hiking trails that weave through the mountain range and provide you with an up close and personal encounter with these unique formations.  I could visit this place over and over again and not get bored.  We spent hours just meandering down our trail, stopping for pictures and playing on rocks.  We even were able to spend a good chuck of time hammocking right off of the trail.  So peaceful.  Even though this place is tucked away, in the southern portion of the state, it is a must do!

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May – Seven Falls, Sabino Canyon

Reason for not visiting before: No Dogs Allowed

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This hike has always been high on my to-do list, but just kept putting it off because I always feel a pang of guilt when I hike without the mutts!  We did this hike in May, trying to get it in before summer and before all the falls dry up.  We failed! This 8+ mile hike kicked out butts. It was hot, and I mean hot!  We were so relieved when we finally laid eyes on the falls….or should I say pools.  There was mearly a trickle of water from one pool to another.  But it was beautiful, none the less.  We were so happy to see just 3 trees, in this desert landscape.  All we needed to hang our hammocks and relax before making the hike back down.  After splashing around the water, we made a quick lunch in the jetboil and took a siesta in our hammocks.  The hike back was also hot….and long! But we made it, and every step was worth it!

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June – Picketpost Mountain

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t made the time yet

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This hike is dog friendly, but after speaking with some friends who’ve hiked it before, we decided to first attempt it without the dogs.  There are areas where scrambling is involved (normally not an issue), but these scrambles were very exposed and a slip could be very dangerous for a dog.  What a fun hike this was.  You gain almost 2,000 in elevation, with 360 degrees of desert views.  Definitely worth the burning muscles in our legs! Will definitely be back to hike this again….next time, in cooler weather. And huge props to whoever managed to drag this bench up (pictured below).

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July – Bisbee, AZ

Reason for not visiting before: Long Drive

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This was a different adventure for us.  Our only month where our destination was a town, instead of a hike or outdoor location to explore.  But, what a neat little town Bisbee is, home of The Great Stair Climb.  Bisbee has stairs, lots of stairs, everywhere!  We had a great time exploring, shopping, eating and relaxing in this town.  It had a very laid back feel.  I will note though, it was not quite as dog friendly as I had hoped for.  However, we still had a really wonderful time and am glad we made the trip down south to see this quirky town.

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August – Water Wheel

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t made the time yet

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After a few months of going places where we couldn’t bring all of the dogs, Water Wheel was a nice change of pace!  We had never hiked in this area before.  It was stunning, and so much more water than we had anticipated.  The giant boulders and multiple water falls were fascinating and a great change of scenery, from our typical desert hikes.  Now, despite the fact that we didn’t find the actual log staircase we were searching for (one we see in all photos, from this hike) – we had an amazing time.  We spent hours letting the dogs rock hop and splash around.  We weren’t discouraged, at all, that we didn’t locate the intended photo op – because it just means a return trip is in our future!

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September – Fossil Creek

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t done the necessary research, heard it was crowded and trashed

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Oh my! What a beautiful, desert oasis.  The crystal clear water is such a rare thing, here in Arizona.  There are a few access points, for this hike.  Of course, we ended up choosing the more challenging route – a 4.5 mile hike down to the Falls.  We did this hike on a weekday – which meant we had the place entirely to ourselves for a couple hours!  We enjoyed viewing the falls, swimming in the pools and exploring the grottos.  After a few hours, we started the trek back up.  This kicked our asses. Hard.  That was a long 4.5 miles, on a hot day.  Even the dogs were wiped – which is not a common scene.  Next time i’d like to hike to these falls from the other trailhead – which has much less change in elevation!

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October – Robber’s Roost

Reason for not visiting before: Did not know the location of trailhead

5PC: @remdawg.the.tripawd (Instagram)

I know, I know – we’ve already visited Sedona this year – but seriously, Sedona has so much to offer!  We drove down miles of dirt roads, with a caravan of 4 cars – filled with 7 awesome people and even more dogs!  Our short, 2 mile trail led us to an amazing cave with a kick ass view.  The scenery around the cave is what I imagine Mars to look like – which is apparently awesome!  It was like a real life game of tetris, finding a way to fit all our tents in the little, level area of our cave – which I found a little too entertaining!  I can’t wait to return to this cave over and over, and did I mention over and over again?  Cave camping makes my heart happy.

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November – Grand Falls (Chocolate Falls)

Reason for not visiting before: Was always waiting for the timing to be right with rainfall or snowmelt, to see the falls really flowing

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These falls, hidden in the middle of the Arizona desert, are taller than even Niagara Falls.  They are part of the Little Colorado River – but rarely have more than a trickle.  They flow best after the snow melt in spring, or after a monsoon – but a monsoon can make the roads difficult to get there.  We finally gave up on waiting for the timing to work out and just decided to go.  And boy, am I glad we did!  And it actually worked out perfectly, that the falls weren’t raging.  This gave us the opportunity to hike down in to the canyon and really explore.  The dogs were in absolute heaven.  They explored for hours, playing in the mud, the water, the mud and more mud.  Chipper has never been dirtier. EVER! It made our hearts so happy to see the dogs enjoying themselves so much.  This place is truly a hidden gem and I cannot wait to make the trek back out, down these dirt roads to enjoy the solitude of a waterfall….. and mud.  Hopefully, one day, we will see the falls really in action.

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December – Monument Valley

Reason for not visiting before: Long Drive

dsc_1098-2PC: @izak_the_aussie (Instagram)

It’s official. We saved the best for last.  We planned to do make this trip so late in the year, in the hopes of seeing the Monuments sprinkled with snow.   Approaching the valley, at the end of our 6 hour drive, we could hardly see the monuments because of how think the dust clouds were from the 35+ mph winds.  It made for some truly difficult hiking, on the Wildcat Trail.  We enjoyed roaming the desert floor – but the wind and dust were almost unbearable, at times.  After our hike – we camped at the Gouldings Campground, just a few minutes from the main monuments.  When we went to sleep, the wind was still raging and the rain had begun.  Hours later – I could feel the temps dramatically decrease and the drops hitting the tent sounded much softer than rain.  I could not believe my eyes when we unzipped the tent to find a couple inches of snow, covering the desert floor.  The views were unbelievable.  Looking back, to just last weekend, I still can’t even believe how lucky we were to actually see Monument Valley dusted with fresh snow.  It was the perfect way to cap off our amazing year of explorations.

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Props to anyone who made it through this entire post – it was a long one! But, I just had so much I wanted to say and share with you all.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about our amazing year.  But, more than that, I really hope to motivate at least a couple of you to get and explore some new places that you have been putting off for one reason or another.

No better time than NOW!

Thanks for reading – and keep an eye out on our Instagram (@trustyourtrail) to find out what next years resolution is going to be!

Katie

 

 

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