Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Cactus Christmas in Arizona

After leaving Joshua Tree, Kyle and I drove back to Scottsdale to join up with my family for the rest of the Christmas Holidays. It was awesome to spend time with everyone, it isn't very often that we are all together anymore.
Gingerbread houses - much more fun to make than to eat
  It was also a nice change of pace from the craziness leading up to the holidays. We got to sleep in, read some books and eat lots! In between all our relaxing, we did some exploring in the Scottsdale area. We spend Christmas Eve doing a hike and then going to In 'n Out Burger for lunch.
Kyle pets his furry friends
Hiking the Sunrise Trail in the MacDowell Mountains
 Christmas was a leisurely affair. After opening presents, we went for a swim and then had a feast for dinner!
Christmas morning
 Boxing Day was sunny but cool so Kyle and I got the bikes out and went for a ride in the McDowell Mountains. It was a big push up to a pass but the descent was loose and fun! It was pretty strange riding in December and pedaling past cacti.
Prickly pear cactus, riding in December, oh my! 
Saguaro field beside the trail
Angela had requested that Kyle and I take her climbing during our holiday, so we took advantage of the beautiful sunshine to head out to Pinnacle Peak the next day. We climbed South Crack (5.3, 2 pitches), which was actually the first multi-pitch and trad route that Kyle and I had ever done, 2 years ago. It went much more smoothly this time and Angela climbed like a pro!
Angela LOVES rock climbing! Or maybe she is just terrified?
Climbing up the last pitch on Pinnacle Peak
Angela's favourite part of climbing is coming back down
Climbing is fun
 We stumbled upon AMC Wall on our walk down from Pinnacle and decided to climb a few routes there too. On the way home, Angela took us out for Menchies Frozen Yogurt. Yummy!
Kyle scopes out his next move on Mickey Mantle (5.8)
Well deserved Menchies visit
 One lazy day, I wanted to do something so Kyle and I drove out to the Superstition Mountains to do a climb called Razor's Edge (5.6, 3 pitches). This was a really fun climb and it was mostly bolted and had fixed pitons so I didn't even have to place much gear. The views and the exposure on this climb were spectacular!
First pitch (4th class) on Razors Edge
Kyle follows me up the 2nd pitch of Razors Edge
Kyle taking a break at the 2nd belay station
Leading the final pitch of Razors Edge
60 m rappel down the "Praying Hands"
 We went out to Granite Mountain one night for an afternoon climb. It took longer than we anticipated to get to the crag so we quickly set up a top rope and ran up 3 slabby routes before racing back to the car before the sun went down. All the parks close at sunset and the rangers close the gates so I was worried that we were going to get locked in. We were the last car left in the lot but we were able to get out just fine.
Trying to get back to the car before sunset when the rangers close the gate
 After new years, Kyle and I took off for a trip up to Sedona to meet up with Ashley and Simon for some mountain biking. Unfortunately, the day before we got there, Sedona was hit with the biggest snowstorm that they had seen in over 10 years. Despite all the locals ensuring Ashley that the snow would be melted by the next morning, the trails were still really snowy and hard to ride. It was a strange mixture of snow and mud, so we were sliding around everywhere! We got a few hours of riding in before calling it a day and heading into town for a late lunch and happy hour.
Riding in Sedona, why is there snow? Oh right, I guess it is January
 Sedona is a very strange town that seems to run completely off being a tourist trap. All the stores were tourist shops, art galleries or crystal stores and the claim to fame of the area is that there are "vortexes" that are locations of greater health. Playing the vortex card, there were all sorts of psychics, and crystal healers. As I said, it was a strange town.
Luckily we were staying in Oak Creek, just south of Sedona and right below a vortex (Bell Rock). We found a bike shop and were able to get some information about trails that were snow free further south. We made our way down to the Black Canyon Trail, a 79 mile multi-use trail that connects Scottsdale to Prescot. We got on the trail at the middle of the trail and headed north for a 22 km out and back ride. The trails were fast and flowy, with a decent amount of elevation gain and fun descents and best of all, no snow!
Black Canyon Trail
No snow to be seen here!

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