Bill Williams Mountain Trail, Williams, Arizona

The perfect days of a Northern Arizona autumn are here, yet I am reflecting upon one of my favorite summer hikes. When the temperatures rise in Ash Fork, I take the boy up to Williams, where it’s 5-10 degrees cooler, with a lot more shade. Bill Williams Mountain Trail #21, is the main trailhead located at the Williams Ranger Station. Several other trails can be accessed from it, including Clover Spring and City of Williams Link Trail. Bill Williams Mountain is a great day hike, though there are some fairly steep patches on the way up. For a beginning to intermediate hiker, this will just mean a few extra rest stops and a reminder that the return trip is all downhill. 

This trail wanders through ponderosa pines, oak, aspen and fir, with a bit of rock climbing thrown in. Well, not actually climbing, but for a 10 year old boy, we call it that. There are dozens of small dens to observe, most will be empty during the day, but have caution lest you come upon a sleeping critter or a new mother with her litter. Several viewpoints offer a glimpse of the town of Williams. You will likely hear the train whistle at some point, if you make the entire 6 mile round trip. The Grand Canyon Railway leaves Williams for the Canyon at 9:30a.m. and returns at 5:45p.m. daily.

The reward at the top of the trail is the Bill Williams Lookout tower, still occasionally manned by the Forest Service. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get invited up to take in the spectacular view, as a friend of mine did. One thing this same friend mentioned is that it is also possible to drive to the top on Forest Road 111, so if hiking is not for you, or if you just want to make the one way trip, you can still enjoy the mountain.

Though the trail is very clear, we still saw a few of these marking tapes (pink ribbon on the tree) along the way, hmm…
The yellow plate on this tree identifies it as a “bearing tree”, a part of the Public Lands Survey System, identifying land boundaries and locations long before the GPS was even conceived.

As you can see here, Yak is carrying his walking stick. We don’t always use them, but they are very helpful. He’s also got water and gatorade easily accessible from the outside pockets of his daypack. Inside, I happen to know, are an apple, chips, a granola bar and a camera, notebook and pen. He also has a hoodie and hat stowed in there. Even if you think you’re just going on a short hike, it’s a good idea to be prepared. You never know what’s up around the bend…

Happy Trails!


Phoenix in July? Why?!

Cooling off after a toasty time in Phoenix, AZ

Yet another mid-July trip to Phoenix, AZ. I am always opposed to the timing of these mid-summer fiascos and as events seemed to reinforce my objections, I didn’t say, “I told you so”. Didn’t even give him “the look”. I comforted myself with visions of sitting by our family member’s pool in the early mornings and late evenings, reading, and taking in a movie in a nice, air-conditioned theater. That didn’t exactly work out, either, but more about that later.

After we arrived at our relatives’ home, our first order of business was dinner at the local Chinese buffet.  This lost its luster when a cockroach make an appearance on one of the plates.  We had planned to take in a movie next, but there were none we wanted to see that were playing at a convenient time. We wanted the matinee, of course. We decided to go the next day. Instead we went to Bass Pro shop, where we made several purchases. One was an open reel that was supposed to be $29 and the charge was $59. Wow. Is it a full moon? Yes, as a matter of fact, it was. The mistake was corrected (we were purchasing the display model and the salesperson had put it in the wrong box, which caused the error in pricing) and we went back to the condo and called it quits for the night.

Saturday dawned, hot and muggy. No sitting outside enjoying the sunrise. In addition, the pool was quite filthy, so we passed on the swimming, as well. Later, we got cabin fever and went looking for a Sprouts Market and a tea shop. This Sprouts didn’t have the raw milk I’ve been drinking, but we picked up fresh, organic veggies for dinner and fruit for smoothies. I decided to settle for kefir, since I couldn’t get my raw milk.

On the way to the tea shop, we stumbled upon a nice little Greek restaurant where we decided to stop for lunch. After I got my missing olives and feta, my Greek salad was delicious. The lemon soup was awesome and the gyro dinner was so tasty and tender, I think I am now addicted to Greek cooking.

The tea shop, on the other hand, was less impressive. Stocked full of ayurvedics, essential oils and loose teas and spices, it was a disappointment. All the teas were old, stale and dusty. From the looks of the tinctures behind the counter, I didn’t think they were very potent anymore either. The real kicker was, the annexed vegetarian restaurant was packed! I hope the quality of the food there was better than the quality of the teas adjoining. We never did get to the movies, but our visit with the family was most pleasant, as usual. Thankfully, we enjoy each other’s company, whether or not the outside forces cooperate.

Although Sunday Mass is easy to locate nearly any time from Saturday evening to Sunday evening in Phoenix, the advice from this pilgrim is: do not go in July! The optimum time to enjoy Phoenix, as well as most of Arizona, is winter and spring!


Tic Tac Toe

In an effort to beat the heat this week, we’ve been escaping another 1000 feet in elevation to Williams, Arizona.  Relaxing at one of our favorite fishing holes, my son sets up an impromptu game of “tic tac toe”.  After a couple of dozen rounds, his interest wanes and he gazes off to the side of our picnic table.  A tiny robin is collecting – something.  Foraging through pine needles and gravel for tasty morsels, perhaps.

The earlier cool breeze now fights with a hot wind, both struggling to dominate our respite.  We move to a shadier spot.  My son has been suffering heat exhaustion for the past few days and the fresh, cool breezes are much better for him than sitting in front of the air conditioner.  He dozes off.  The lake is so quiet today.  It usually doesn’t get too crowded anyway, but today is heavenly, even for midweek.  In July and August, I just expect crowds no matter where we go.  

Clouds build and tease around the edges of the hills.  Will our “monsoons” deliver this year?  The lake is way down and we have a lot of water to make up for.  Boy wakes up and we take a short walk. Spending the days up here, pumping him with gatorade and water have helped keep his temperatures down.  He is just about back to normal now, but his body needs a few more days to recover from the shock he’s had.  He is already chattering nonstop and I expect him to start bouncing around again, soon.