GetTheFunOut, aka GTFO, is about enjoying life. While the focus is on travel and outdoors, we're here to help you have fun all around Arizona at festivals, fairs, food trucks, museums, sports, and all of the other unique activities Arizona has to offer. Follow on twitter @gtfoaz to get updates on what's going on around the state.
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Gaia x GTFO = Discounted GPS!
Wandering the Munds Mountain Wilderness
This weekend I decided to escape to Sedona for an invigorating hike alone in the serene beauty of the red rocks. Before leaving I jumped on AllTrails.com to pick a destination, with length and novelty being a priority. The trail listed as "Schnebly Hill Trail to Seven Sacred Pools," coming in at a lengthy 13 miles sounded like a winner. Because, really, who can say no to not one, not two, but SEVEN SACRED POOLS??!! I had never been there, but luckily the AllTrails app included Google Maps coordinates so I expected to be able to navigate from point A to point B with ease.
After deciding on this trail I continued to do a little more research because the info was pretty sketchy on AllTrails and it has given me bad info before. Googling the trail name gave me only one real result, on trails.com (which for a lot of trails is not uncommon)... but this is a subscription site so I passed on more info and decided to be happy with a confirmatory result. So I packed a bag, stopped for a sandwich, and headed out.
The first hour of the drive was uneventful, but when I pulled into the Village of Oak Creek I realized that heading to Sedona on a holiday weekend was a terrible idea. There were miles of traffic proceeding at a slow pace. Turns out Sedona tourists are not so familiar with how roundabouts work and that really delays progress. Less than relaxing.
Finally, I got to Schnebly Hill Road, which is listed as requiring a high-clearance vehicle. Not entirely sure what qualifies as high clearance, but I have a Hyundai Tucson and made it through the first mile ok. I am told that it gets significantly worse a few miles in, though.
After a bit of bumpy riding I arrived at the area where AllTrails says the trailhead is. Just a little past that point is a small parking area (but, spoiler alert, this narrative is actually unhelpful for getting to Schnebly Hill Trail).
This is not the parking area I found. I'm no more helpful.
Upon exiting my car and orienting myself towards the trailhead I quickly saw the first obstacle... namely a 50' rock face between me and the dropped pin on the map. Assuming there must be some way up I walked in its direction until I found tracks in the dirt that looked like a trail heading in vaguely the right direction, so I followed it. And I kept following it. And every now-and-then I would think "well this isn't a trail" but then I would see more tracks or a cairn and I would keep going (which is a good example of why randomly stacking rocks because it looks cool is annoying and potentially dangerous). But as I checked the map I noticed it was not getting me closer to the trailhead, unless it was leading up to the mountain wall to wrap around. Either way, it was scenic and I was walking in a drainage ditch so retracing my steps would be easy, so I kept going.
Not the view of my path.
Long story short, I traipsed around for about 2 hours trying to figure out how to get to the trailhead, pushing through a variety of spike and scratchy things, sliding down a hillside, etc...finally I gave up and walked back to the road.
Then, 20' away from where I started, I noticed another trail entrance. I followed it, and FINALLY to the top of the rock face where the trail is supposed to start, according to the app. But up here things look the same as everywhere I had been that day... vague notions of trails, but nothing that looks like a real trail. Certainly not a 13 mile loop that is a great mountain bike trip, as AllTrails said. But there was a great recliner rock where I relaxed a bit before finally heading out for the day.
On the way out I made a rest stop at the Hike House. While there I looked at the maps and found Schnebly Hill Trail in a book, which made me particularly aggravated. So I asked the employees who confirmed the trail exists and is great. We looked at the topo map and found that AllTrails was off by MILES with its trailhead info. I have no idea where I was or what kind of car can make it to Schnebly Hill Trail. But I did see some great scenery and had a relaxing afternoon... minus the cuts and scratches on my legs.
Big Guy Gear Reviews are what the
sound like--gear reviews focused on the usability for big guys. If you're a
proportional six-footer, congrats: you can use literally every piece of gear on
the market. If you're a big guy, however, you know it's a frustrating
marketplace. I'm here to help. For reference, here are my basic
dimensions: 6'5", 235 pounds, dress shirt is 17"x37". I wear XL-tall shirts and 38x34
pants—as long as they’re not straight legged, boot cut, or whatever else skinny
hipsters have pushed the market toward. I'm built with more of a weak-man's
barrel chest than a fat-man's beer belly. I have what Lululemon calls
"hockey butt." If you're tall and not broad, or broad and not tall,
these reviews should still help you find usable gear. Each year I return to the Blue Ridge
Mountain area of Virginia to hunt white-tailed deer. Each year I am confounded by hunting
clothing cut to fit gnomes and Santas. If
I want a shir…
This weekend I finally had the opportunity to get back up to the Kachina Peaks Wilderness sub-unit of 7E after months of closure due to drought and fire risk. It was great to get back up in the woods, even greater because I was wearing my new Under Armour Ridge Reaper Infil Ops boots. This review is based mostly on just one day in the field, so there's more to experience; but based on how well they worked without being broken in they're going to be great.
Yes, you read that correctly--Virginia does have a wine country. While Virginia is certainly not as well known as Napa or Sonoma, the state puts out delicious wines, is incredibly scenic, and chances are it's much more accessible to a larger number of people than California's destinations.
Time for a clarification already: the entire state of Virginia supports grapes and features wineries, so when I talk about "wine country" I'm talking generally about the wineries in the Monticello American Viticultural Area (MAVA) of central Virginia between Charlottesville and Staunton. This is the area in which Thomas Jefferson initiated the phenomenon of American wine, arguably making the MAVA the grandfather of California's wine country.
Within the MAVA are at least 33 wineries that meet the requirements for inclusion on the Monticello Wine Trail list. And in case you want some variety, there are also numerous breweries, some distilleries, and a handful of cideries…