My plan was simple enough, attend the AZT event until 2p, change, hit the trails south of I-40 for a good 30-ish miles then meet Carlos at a TBD campsite. The following day we'd do an Around the Mountain, ATM ride.
|Now that's an entrance!|
|Our table for the day, right behind the huge AZT banner.|
I had my bike next to our table, loaded down with all my bikepacking gear. I also spread out some of my camping gear, the mini stove gathered the most attention. Hopefully I provided enough stoke for a few people to get out there and bikepack the AZT.
The event ended at 2p, I changed and was rolling out of Buffalo Park by 2:30p hoping to knock out at least a 30 mile ride before dark. The AZT runs directly through the park, so I followed it south through the Rio de Flag area and into the surrounding forest. I had been on this section of trail many times, so today I was looking for something new. Enter the Flagstaff Loop Trail or FLT.
|Leaving the AZT for the FLT.|
|Typical of the FLT for the first 10 miles I rode.|
|It then transitions to double track for a bit just before Campbell Mesa.|
|More fast singletrack!!|
|Miles & miles of this!!|
|I-40 underpass. I thought this was funny since I'd be racing daylight, but I did have my lights.|
|AZT bypass loop heading towards Mt. Elden.|
|A familiar water crossing.|
|Leaving the AZT.|
|Just under 4 miles to go in the waning daylight.|
I must've dumped onto a side trail initially, because it became tough to follow and had some overgrowth mixed in with short HAB's. I soon popped out onto the 'real' trail and before long crossed another major intersection when I decided to check the GPS to see where exactly Buffalo Park resided. Oops. Overshot it by a little bit!! I was a bit higher on the mountain than I thought. A hiker came down the trail and was giving me directions involving multiple trails when I realized I was at the AZT junction. I knew the AZT ran straight into Buffalo Park, so I was good to go. Twenty minutes later I was back at my car texting Carlos for the camp location for the evening. Turned out to be a mighty fine loop.
Carlos found a nice spot just off Shultz Creek rd, practically on course for the following days ride.
Day2: ATM WithdrawalCarlos and I were in no particular hurry to get going on Sunday. It may have been 8:30a by the time we were rolling out of camp. The rollout didn't last long until our first trail, a mere feet away from the Dog Food trail. It's not my most favorite trail, but it was a direct shot to the AZT, so we took it. Up on the AZT we were quickly reminded how good the singletrack is leading towards the Sunset TH.
Before reaching Sunset we intercepted Shultz Pass rd and made a quick connection to Waterline.rd. The next 9 miles were steadily uphill, but as I mentioned to Carlos, you hardly notice. Just keep pedaling...and enjoy the views.
|The countless burned trees are a constant reminder of the recent wildfire here.|
|A very cool feature on the climb, lava fin tunnel.|
About 7 miles into the climb we re-entered the aspen laden forest. I noted on the GPS how we were getting close to our turnoff onto the Inner Basin trail, aka Pickup Sticks. Just as we were getting set to dive-bomb down the trail, a rider came up from behind us asking if our jerseys read 'Arizona Endurance Series'? Yes they do!! One of the Flagstaff locals, Micha, was also doing an ATM ride. He was kind enough to give us more information on proceeding higher up the trail before committing to the downhill.
|Upper Inner Basin split.|
|The 3 C's: Cold, Clear & Clean!!|
|Up to the Wilderness boundary we go.|
|Second pump station.|
|Almost looked like a bus stop of sorts.|
|Note the increase in grade%!!|
|At least we topped 10k one way or another.|
|The view from 10k, bikes are practically visible at the bottom.|
|Carlos taking his maiden voyage down Pickup Sticks.|
|It's easy to see why this trail is popular. Too bad it's only 1 1/2 miles long.|
|2000' later we were down here.|
|Looking towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from FR552.|
|Nice view of Sunset Crater.|
It was much needed and a good move as I was able to keep a better pace on the second climb. Down at the AZT we ran into a few more riders doing an out-n-back from Aspen Corner. We continued on starting up the 4 mile gentle grade of the AZT towards Bismarck Lake.
|Yep, that kind of climbing.|
|Bismarck Lake junction, which way to go? Both look good.|
|Alfa Fia tank and a roaming shower. The day started clear, but sprinkles were falling and an occasional rumble was heard.|
|Humphrey's Peak & AZ Snowbowl peaking out.|
|Approaching Aspen Corner and the long downhill.|
|Mostly rippin' trail like this, some chunk thrown in for good measure too.|
|An often bypassed overlook a couple miles from the bottom.|
|Some AZT swag from the Trail Day event.|
|Driving home, sunset over Mingus Mtn.|