"Let us go into the mountains and be happy." – Serge 

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Published on June 23, 2013 by

Congratulations to Dara Marks Marino, upon her win at the 2013 Xterra race in ShowLow, AZ – her first xterra race in over 5 years.
Learn more about coach Dara at TheMindfulathlete.net.

Dara winning the 2007 xterra in ShowLow, AZ

Dara winning the 2007 xterra in ShowLow, AZ

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another fine Arizona winter

Published on March 29, 2013 by

You will find nothing here that is really important for humanity or planet earth.
On second thought it’s all important….
Here are some shots from last winter in the Kachina Peaks Wilderness of Northern Arizona.

early January 2013 tour

middle January and very cold temperatures

early March

middle March

And my favorite shot of the season – JE about to enter the narrow Sqeeker Chutes as I snap a picture from a narrow ledge, above on a rock pinnacle.
JE in the Sqeeker Chutes

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Captain Pistachio and the Daft Master

Published on July 11, 2012 by

This story contains real entities, however the humans and bicycles are imaginary. 

Captain Pistachio and the Daft Master heard a rumor that waterline road of the San Francisco Peaks had been destroyed by the Shultz Fire and subsequent floods of 2010. After playing a few hours of Finnish party poker, the pair pedaled their mountain-bikes up into the Kachina Peaks Wilderness of Northern Arizona.

The moonlight guided their way over 10,800 ft. Fremont Saddle (between Doyle and Fremont Peaks), then down the IB trail into the inner basin. Silver mushrooms of the White Pine Forest glistened from their lights. They made it to the 10 mile stretch of waterline road; this dirt-road descent usually takes 30 minutes to ride. That night it took 3.5 hours. Their progress was impeded by flood debris, boulders, ruts, flood deposited gravel piles, thick hay (erosion mitigation), and a skunk. No one was sprayed.
waterline road damage
In the Eastern canyon between Doyle Peaks and the baby peaks, flood waters had carved 20+ foot canyon walls and obliterated the road. To continue required delicate, 2-person bicycle portage up and down steep, loose and rocky slopes. Around 2:30am it began to rain in the huge and dangerous flash-flood zone. They could only laugh because it seemed all too stupid and funny.

The rain never got worse than a light sprinkle, and by 4am they made it out of the burn area.
waterline road
Currently waterline road is getting rebuilt by the city of Flagstaff, AZ and the USFS.

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Arizona, April 2012

Published on April 17, 2012 by

The girls and I took a trip down to Phoenix for the annual Marks Clan Seder. It was another fine dinner – this time with Jane’s savory beef brisket. Before dinner, McKenna Jane played with Grandma Jane, giving Dara and I the opportunity for a single-track ride together. The weather was crisp and the trails surprisingly empty for a Saturday – everyone must have been catching the AZT300 on ESPN. 😉

Dara, Phoenix Mountains.

With only clouds and no rain experienced on our ride, I was surprised to find the SNOTEL weather station, near home in Flagstaff, reporting 15″ of new snow at 9,700 ft. I began scheming a Sunday/Monday trip into the mountains. By Sunday afternoon we were back home and I was packing my ski gear. The only one interested in a night trip into the mountains was 9 year-old Sazi dog.

Sazi near Reese Tanks.

McKenna really wanted to come, but I told her that she needed to develop her ski skills. “I have an idea”, she said “maybe you can carry me!” With laughter I told her just how fun it would be to go winter camping but that time was not now. She seemed fine with that.
Sazi and I started hiking around sunset. The views and stoke were red-lined.

Left to right: Reese Peak, Bear Jaw Canyon, Abineau Peak, Reese Canyon, Abineau canyon (big avalanche chutes) and Humphreys Peak (highest point in AZ at 12,635) hidden in clouds.

Painted desert and Little Colorado River drainage that feeds into Grand Canyon

Sazi doing his stoked snow-roll-dance next to splitboard and pack.

We hiked for about an hour before there was enough snow to start skinning (uphill skiing) with my splitboard. Temps were around 25 degees F., and we felt quite good. We also “felt the spirits” of the Kachina Peaks, standing our hair on end.


Our goal for the evening was a place I call the tree-cave (aka – the Hanta Hotel). I choose a new route and became disoriented, finding myself near Abineau Canyon, rather than Reese Canyon. From there it was either steep country up or a long traverse back to the mellow route. I chose up and when we got into steep icy slopes, the choice revealed itself as unwise. I became tired, lost my focus and slipped several times.
By 12:30am we made it to the tree-cave. I’ve done this tour in 3.5 hours, tonight it took 6. Alfredo and leftover brisket dinner.
Up and skinning by 7:30.

The storm from ~24 hours ago left beautiful powder that faceted overnight.

Electricity was created by combining gorgeous views, calm air, warm sunshine, chocolate, and the anticipation of snowboarding powder.

Doyle Peak, 11,460 ft. Fremont Peak, 11,969 ft

Abineau Canyon chutes.

From the top of Abineau Peak (11,838), we eased into Bear Jaw Canyon, while keeping my brain on snow-stability. It was a go and for about 1,000 vertical feet and 30 seconds I became a powder spraying superhero riding a snowboard rocket-ship through the universe.

Batten down the hatches – powder spray ahead!

Snowboard and Sazi tracks.

They say every superhero has a weakness – mine became a thick crust over powder in the 10,500-10,000 foot range. From 10,000 to 9,000 the snow became soft again from warm air/sunshine. Below 9,000 there was not much snow and we began the long hike/traverse out of Bear Jaw Canyon back to Reese Canyon and our truck.

Reese Tank. Old Reese homestead foundation?

Elevation: 4000+ vertical climb
Distance covered: ~12 miles. Sazi dog likely covered closer to 20+.
Time: 19 hours April 15/16, 2012 – 6:30pm to 1:30pm (4 hours of sleep at the tree-cave)
Time spent as superhero: 30 seconds

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Snow and Sun – Spring 2012

Published on March 31, 2012 by

Two weeks ago Flagstaff received 2+ feet of snow, with the peaks above town getting 4+ feet. The sledding/skiing/snowboarding was quite spectacular, and the bike riding not so much.

The sun came out and and after two weeks of 60 degree highs, the bike riding is getting quite good. Dara and McKenna demonstrate.

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