October 6-7, 2010 - Flagstaff
We JUST missed the tornados and stayed at an RV park in Bellemonte outside of Flagstaff. That town got hit with 4 tornados early in the morning and you should see what it looked like to us coming in. We left Lake Havasu -85 degrees and sunny. As we got our kicks on Route 66 from Kingman to Seligman, the temperature started to drop and the clouds were dark and threatening with high winds. We had passed through Flagstaff last week on the way to Sedona but hadn’t stopped. The weather had been beautiful and hot last week in Flagstaff. Must to our delight and surprise, Mt. Humphreys (12,000 ft.) is now snow covered yet the aspens have not yet changed. As we got closer on I-40 east, we could see tractor trailers overturned on the highway and when we passed the Camping World store, ALL of their RV’s (about 40) were demolished and debris strewn about across the interstate and all over the area. It was a very sobering sight. Houses were torn apart as well.
The RV park we stayed at was fine – actually lovely – but the campers told us that everyone had been huddled in the campground office buildings for shelter in the early dawn hours when the storms went through. Again…scary. We drove through historic Flagstaff and on up to the Arizona Snow Bowl on the slopes of Mt. Humphreys. It was incredibly windy still with dark skittering clouds. We decided to hike the Kachina trail that winds around the mountain’s flanks into the Kachina Wilderness Peaks area. What an incredible change from the forests/deserts we had been hiking previously. Of course, they had had a lot of rain dumped from the storm but it was obvious that the mountain does get a lot of water because there was thick moss growing on the ponderosa pines and the scent was definitely evergreen laden.
Support your National Forests!! In the areas designated as wilderness, there can be no mechanical devices of any kind including bicycles or any type of power equipment. Thus, the rangers hiked back into the wilderness with heavy packs and equipment and we came across a male and female ranger who were handcutting those portions of the trees toppled by the storm that were blocking the trail using a crosscut saw. They then had to move the big chunks out of the way by hand. Interesting conversation with the rangers about the difference between the national forests that allow ATVs and other equipment for forest management and the wilderness areas that highlight man’s transient impact on the environment. These folks work incredibly hard too! Loved it.
The area is also volcano-created and the trail was lined by jumbles of huge boulders. There were pockets of snow nestled in the shaded crevices of the forest floor yet everything was green still. The trail wound around the flanks of Mt. Humphreys and occasionally, you were rewarded by the sight of Flagstaff and the Lowell Observatory below and the snow-covered peaks above.
We’ll try to call the Hunsbergers about 9:00 your time to say hi to everyone. Go Phillies!