One of the most amazing things about living at 7,000 feet in Flagstaff is that even though you live in a desert, you still get winter, sometimes more winter than you want: my first year here, I left a friend’s house after celebrating New Year’s with appletinis and
Harry Hamlin in a leather skirt Clash of the Titans, and my car’s thermometer read -12 F.
But if you tire of the snow or the cold, you can travel a mere two hours south, dropping 5,000 feet in the process, and enjoy 70s weather in Phoenix. And that’s just what we’ve done lately. There is a trail race series from October to March put on by the fabulous folks at Aravaipa Running, and we’ve been using their expertly managed events as good excuses to go camping and to get to know the astounding parks that surround Phoenix.
There’s something pretty alien and yet magical about the mix of saguaro cacti, teddy bear cholla, ocotillo, and other assorted pointy plants.
I’ll admit, though, that mountain biking takes on a new level of seriousness when these are your obstacles (and punishments for steering miscalculations):
Aside from the sound of coyotes howling to each other at night, my favorite thing about camping in the desert in winter are the spectacular sunsets punctuated by saguaros. Here are some pictures from recent trips: