Author Archives: Jay Holt

A Challenge Completed

If you are on a reasonably fast connection change the youtube settings to 720 HD and full screen for best viewing.

A little while back I discovered that a hillside near our house has several challenging trails on it. I have been trying to clean this section for a while. By clean, I mean ride it all the way through without putting a foot down. A few days back, after I first managed to clean it, I decided it’s time to break out the go pro again.

This next clip is me trying to take the even more challenging high line up and around the boulder in the middle rather than around the bottom of it. I still have not quite managed to get it. With a little persistence I hope to get this tough new line.

Bacon Pecan Waffles

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It all started when Sharon and I were at the Original Pancake House and I saw bacon waffles and pecan waffles on the menu. I immediately thought, “Why no bacon pecan waffles?”. I even tried to order one and they said it would not turn out right.  Jump ahead to now and Sharon and I have a Belgian waffle maker that was a wedding present from our friends Matt and Julie. I used the recipe for pecan waffles that came with the machine and just substituted some fresh cooked bits of applewood smoked bacon from Bashas for some of the pecans.

Tasty.

Trails that are very close to home

Living in Flagstaff has its perks.  A huge perk of our new house is just how close to trail we are now. How close is close?  Watch the video and see me go from our driveway to a short steep technical downhill in 40 seconds of riding on the road.

The video is three clips, the middle clip is a very nearby dirt jump at the bottom of the Shultz Pass/ Rocky Ridge area. The last clip shows another trail that is less than two minutes away from the house.

The New Brewery on the Block: Wanderlust

Jay with Wanderlust brew master Nathan Friedman

Jay with Wanderlust brew master Nathan Friedman

Yes we have not visited and written about a brewery in a long while. It’s not that we have not been going to breweries… they just don’t seem blog worthy when they’re in your backyard. And truth be told we have a lot of local breweries: Beaver Street, Flag Brew, Cosmic, Mother Road, Lumberyard and Mogollon. They even put out some good beer.
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Thankfully, Wanderlust has come to us to solve that problem of not having something new to blog about.

Last Saturday was a long anticipated event for Flagstaff beer lovers. The grand opening of Wanderlust. Wanderlust is a little different, their emphasis is on distribution. They do not have and have no interest in getting a kitchen. They are a one man show and the ring leader is  Nathan Friedman. The brew master Nathan is a long time home brewer taking the plunge and going professional. His specialty is Belgian beers. I suspect this is not only because he is good at them but is also what he likes to drink.
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I had one major fear for the kick off of Wanderlust – running out of beer. Sure it sounds crazy, but this is a crazy town and running out of one or more beers is standard fare for this town. Wanderlust is the smallest of the Flagstaff breweries, so the fear was even more real.

Sharon and I had the Belgian Pale ale and the Oatmeal Stout as well as the Local Farmhouse. The Belgian Pale Ale was a stand out for me. I have had a few different Belgian IPAs that all tend to be over flavored with different very strong flavors competing for dominance. This beer was flavorful, unique, well balanced and easy to drink, well at least for those of us who like hops.  We got our growler filled with the Belgian Pale Ale for $12.
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The Farmhouse is smooth, not too dark and has lots of subtle flavors that suggest it’s more mild than it really is. It hides a 7.5% ABV punch.

I look forward for good things to come from Wanderlust.

Stepping Up My Bike Commuting

As most of you have probably heard by now, I am working for American Conservation Experience. This means I am often working in the field for days at a time. For most people this would mean needing a car to haul gear.  Not for me, not with my Fargo bicycle.

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Yes I also carried the orange pack in the foreground.

Sure, being a one car household has some to do with riding more, but there is more to it. Living in Flagstaff forces you to up your game.

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It looks awkward but this bike is built to haul and handled surprisingly well.

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Here in Flagstaff people haul multiple children simultaneously by bike.  Sighting someone riding to work with 60 pounds of gear in the rain is common place. I certainly appreciate being constantly reminded that I should up my game. It feels good to ride strong even when it is uphill, in the rain, with a rig that may be north of 80 pounds.

Mountain Biking in Flagstaff, The Jedi Trail

The Jedi Trail

The Jedi trail is a long standing local staple and  goes from the Dry Lake to  Little Gnarly near the Shultz Creek Trail junction. The Jedi is known for its many log crossings. One of the hardest ones has been cut out. As you can see by my minor fall, my log crossing skills have gotten a little rusty. Its very rare that some masochist tries to ride it in the uphill direction and its generally ridden down. Its a lot more fun than going down little Gnarly and its also better than going down Lower Brook Bank to Elden Lookout trail.

Mountain Biking in the Pine-Strawberry AZ Area

Jay riding the Pine-Strawberry Trail on his Salsa Fargo

Over the long weekend, Sharon and I agreed we needed to get out and camp somewhere. We decided on Rim Country based on the prediction of perfect weather. The prediction held true. I had a great morning riding the Pine-Strawberry Trail. I rode from our campsite off of Hardscrabble Road up to Fossil Creek Road. This portion of the dirt road was very fast on my bike, a Salsa Fargo 29er.  I then took the Fossil Creek Road on through the town of Strawberry and picked up the Pine-Strawberry Trail.

Unfortunately the video footage above is washed out or over exposed.  I hope future full sunlight footage will be better, as I plan to get a polarizing filter for the go-pro camera. I was wearing sunglasses, but the mixed shade/sun/shade made it hard for me to see at times. It’s so washed out that it is hard to see, but early on in the video the trail is quite steep and I just let the bike roll, plunging off of multiple ledges. Yes, it was a rough ride on a rigid bike.

I still really want to come back at some point and ride the Highline Trail/ Arizona Trail. Of course, if I am still in northern Arizona I do not think I will want to miss the Fire On The Rim race and festival.

Arizona Game and Fish Little Colorado River Fish Monitoring volunteer trip

LCR showing travertine formations

I recently had the chance to spend 10 days on the Little Colorado River near the Colorado River confluence. I had applied for a US Fish and Wildlife volunteer trip which was full. The US Fish and Wildlife person forwarded my info to Arizona Game and Fish which had a similar research trip. The trip lasted 10 days and we were sent in and extracted via helicopter.

There are three research camps on the Little Colorado River (LCR). I stayed in the Boulders Camp, the furthest downstream, only a mile from the confluence of the Colorado River.  With three to five people in each camp, and several sling loads of scientific equipment and food and water, the helicopter had to make many trips. When carrying gear the helecopter used a long line to lift slings, which are large cargo nets. The pilot had us limit loads to no more than 500 pounds.  When he was carrying the sling he took on no passengers and actually removed the side door in order to stick his head out and have a good visual with the sling load.

Gear in piles waiting to be transported

Hooking up sling load

The flight is quite short and the scenery is stunning. The flight is classified as a special use and I had to don a flight suit and complete an online training before the flight. It’s an extremely low elevation flight into the LCR canyon.  Commercial flights and general aviation flights are not permitted to enter the canyon.  The helicopter landing site is very small and is located outside Grand Canyon National Park jurisdiction on tribal land. The landing site is situated next to the LCR bank and a large boulder; it’s a very tight space.  If the helicopter landed at the wrong angle the tail rotor would impact a large rock.  As I learned in my pre-flight training module, even a small impact to the main rotor or tail rotor will cause the helicopter to vibrate into pieces and turn over on its side.

This might just be an optical illusion

The purpose of the trip was to continue a long term monitoring project of the humpback chub, an endangered native fish. The humpback chub monitoring and research is carried out by the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC). The GCMRC is a partnership that provides science for the Glen Canyon Dam adaptive management program. The US Geological Survey, US Fish and Wildlife and Arizona Game and Fish all get logistical and other support from the GCMRC.

Baby Chub

Speckled Dace

Sucker with characteristic color. Either a flannel mouth or blue head I do not remember and I can see its head in the photo.

Each day Brian, a field biologist from AZGF, and I would haul in the nets and work up any fish caught. Then we would place the nets to be checked again the following day. While working up the fish, we would scan the fish for radio frequency ID tags. If there was a tag I would record it in the log. If the fish was new with no tag, Brian would use the tagging gun to inject a tag into the fish.  The tag is about the size of a grain of rice and gets injected into the fish’s belly (the specifics vary depending on the species). I also recorded the lengths and characteristics of each fish. The RFID tag is like an easy pass toll transponder for fish.  There is a permanent array of antennas from USGS that act like toll booths and read the tags as the fish swim by.  We also installed temporary antennas underwater for the spawning season.

I did have a decent amount of free time on the days when the nets were mostly empty. I got to hike down to the Colorado River confluence.  I also hiked upstream and saw Spider Cave, Redbud Canyon and the Sipapu. According to Hopi legend the Sipapu is their place of origin. It’s a very spiritually important location to the Hopi and I observed from a respectful distance on the opposite side of the river as the tribe requests. I will not be posting any photos of the Sipapu or its location. I did feel honored and privileged to see it.

This lizard was fearless and would get very close and just stare at you. It hung around our camp and ate globe mallow blooms. Watching it jump up and grab the globe mallow blooms was very amusing.

Jay’s Trip to Toroweap

Looking down at Toroweap campsite

A couple of weeks ago I found out that the Grand Canyon National Park Vegetation Program’s Invasive Species Crew needed volunteers to go to Toroweap. Since I am not working and could go, I jumped on the opportunity. For those of you who have never heard of Toroweap, it is a point on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon out on the Arizona Strip situated near Vulcan’s Throne. This pocket of Grand Canyon National Park is very remote and totally cut off from the rest of the park.

Large cluster of Mammillaria cacti in bloom.

While there for five days, I worked pulling a few exotic invasive species, Horehound, Blue Mustart, and Scotch Thistle. We removed the Horehound from the dry lake beds in the Toroweap valley. This was the majority of the work. Horehound is in the mint family and looks sort of like catnip. Its every bit as prolific as any other mint.

Small blooming Mammillaria cacti

Small blooming Mammillaria cacti

We also helped the back country ranger Todd with some projects around the camp ground. Toroweap is so remote that Todd is often flown in for his stints in that area.

View from tuck up trail near Saddle Horse Canyon

Even with Toroweap being so remote that it is an eight hour drive from Flagstaff, it’s hard to believe the trip was not full. This particular Grand Canyon National Park volunteer trip usually fills up fast, but this one was only five of us instead of the typical ten.

A well hidden and totally shaded pot hole. This one had a lot of water in it despite the dry and dusty prevailing conditions.

Pot Hole close up. This thing was a miniature oasis, with a water glider and tiny ferry shrimp.

A Great Deal on Bacon

Our local Bashas grocery store here in Flagstaff has some outstanding bacon with a great price. It’s apple wood smoked, big thick slices and not center cut.    This bacon is also very cheap at 4.99 a pound;  Not a sale price just the everyday price. It is found at the butcher counter. It would be even better if it were sliced to order so a whole slab could be had for recipes but they get it already sliced.

This bacon is also available as ordinary cured, but the apple wood smoked has a wonderful flavor. You can smell the smokey aroma as soon as its unwrapped. This bacon is really good just all by itself as breakfast slices.  Also very good as a burger topper because of the nice smoke flavor. The quality and low price make this one of my all time favorites.