Jan. 2, 2014, Flagstaff AZ, Thursday
Happy New Year! Yesterday was a slow day so today’s post covers Wednesday and Thursday. Hope you don’t mind. It is our last day in Flagstaff, tomorrow begins the journey back to St. Paul and the minus 20 degree temperatures. We will spend Friday night with Jude in Santa Fe and do not expect to stop for any side trips on the way home from there.
New Year’s Day was with Lou and Joyce. We watched the Rose Bowl on HGTV and skipped the commercials. The main meal was ham, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and cabbage with apple pie for desert. It was great, thanks Joyce! Bowl games followed with an afternoon walk thrown in.
We hiked up Old Caves Cavern trail. This hill is dotted with caves at the top. Since the last portion of the trail was north-facing and thus snow and ice covered, only Lou and Ed made it to the top. The weather has cooperated wonderfully. Night time temps are in the 20s and in the afternoon, it hits the high 40s. Sun all the time.
Today, downtown Flag (Flagstaff) was our early destination. Chris picked up some extra warm gloves-particularly useful for the upcoming dog sled trip. My effort to find a warmer stocking hat proved fruitless; I will have to double-check back in the Cities. Lunch was at a favorite of Lou and Joyce, Cuvee 928.
For today’s hike, we went to Walnut Canyon National Monument. It is only about 20 minutes away. The canyon itself is 20 miles long and 400 feet deep. Given the change in elevation, plant life is varied.
Cliff dwellings here were built by the Sinagua, an American Indian group, who lived here from about 1125 AD to 1250 AD. The cliff dwellings were constructed here due to natural recesses in the limestone walls where water flowing for millions of years eroded the softer rock layers, creating shallow caves. The cliff homes provided shelter from summer suns and winter colds.
The Sinagua were dry farmers; people who farmed without irrigation, using drought resistant plants. Why they moved in to the area and why they left are not known for sure. It is believed they were assimilated into the Hopi nation.
Two trails are offered. We hiked both, the rim trail and most of the island trail. The island trail goes down to the cliffs, circling part of the rock “island” which is a part of the cliffs that had been encircled by Walnut Creek eons ago.
A portion of the island trail is under construction so we had to double back, effectively lengthening the hike. The trail does not go all the way to the bottom, but it still goes down over 200 feet. It was an efficient way to burn off some calories.
Dinner was in downtown Flag, another great meal from a small, local restaurant called Brix.
Ed and Chris Jan. 2 10 pm