Published: August 8th 2012August 4th 2012
After a quick breakfast and packing our car we leave the Valley heat as fast as possible driving towards the higher altitudes near Flagstaff. We watch happily as the outside temperature falls from close to 110 F(45C) in Phoenix to 90 F (32C) as we ascend to 5500 ft (1700m). We decide to make a short break and exit at Stoneman Lake - the vegetation is still desert-like and there are no pine trees yet. However to our surprise as we stretch our legs we find some ancient Native American pottery shards - quite interesting find in a random location. Still it is warm outside especially with no shade so we move on higher into pine territory.
Next exit we are safe into pine territory at around 6500 ft (2000 m) as we exit at Schnebly Hill Rd. This is a quite well known and beautiful route down to Sedona but today we are content to stay on top and do short hikes from the main road. We stop at the abandoned Foxboro Lake Dam which looks almost like somebody took a bite out of it however on the other side of the road there is a beautiful meadow with
flowers and a lake - picture perfect so of course we have to take quite a few pictures :). We wander in the woods for a bit and find a few mushrooms but unfortunately nothing we can identify as edible. We move on and discover a large camping place - again we walk around and find lots of mushrooms and flowers - everything is really pretty and mostly quiet.
We decide then to move on in the other direction on Forest Road 226 - here we find a lot more campers but going further in we decide to stop near a bridge and explore the Bar M Canyon which we quickly discover is a beautiful canyon with pools of water, flowers and interesting rock formations. There is still time left in the day so we climb one of the nearby hills which impresses us with the number of birds we discover. First we see a hummingbird moving happily from flower to flower then we watch a giant dove perched on a branch and then we see lots of woodpeckers, warblers and other birds just flying from tree to tree. On top we notice that the forest is burned so
we can see the forest all around for miles - quite enjoyable.
It is getting late so we move on to identify a good camping spot. We pass through Flagstaff and continue on road 180 towards Grand Canyon until we exit on a different forest road 222 and look for a camping spot. After about 5 mi (8km) we find a perfect secluded spot that even has a built bench/table for eating. As the sun sets we explore the area and discover a water tank nearby and a beautiful meadow where we watch the sunset. After that it is back to the car to have dinner and then we take our portable astronomy helper out and identify the multitude of stars outside. Finally we get tired and retreat for the night as tomorrow we have planned a difficult ascent on one of the nearby peaks.
There are more photos below