About NATRA Blog

This page is meant for folks to post their thoughts on the Saturday group run. I (Neil) will post a blurb about who showed up and where it was held. From there, I hope that other runners will share their thoughts since we often have different experiences on the same run. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sycamore Rim Solitude and Spectacular Waterfalls


 
Seven NATRA runners defied the predictions of heavy rain and set out on the Sycamore Rim trail in search of water pools, lily pads, and waterfalls. The real treat of running along the edge of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is that it is only a 30 minute drive from Flagstaff, less drive time than many of the trails we often run in our backyard - yet we've never run into a hiker or biker; once we did encounter two horsemen.  Ah, Wilderness!

We accessed the trail by driving south of Parks on Forest Road 141. This drive through Garland Prairie affords some of the most spectacular sweeping vistas of Northern Arizona. The San Francisco Peaks to the east and Bill Williams Mountain to the west frame the expanse, with Sitgeaves, Volunteer and Kendrick Mountains filling in the rest of the view. Every low spot along the way was filled with water that had drained off these nearby mountains.  Tina and David (from Phoenix), Sara, Neil, Bruce, Tzeidle and Jeff plodded onto the slick trails, carefully planting every foot fall, savoring this 7.5 mile out and back run.


Along the way, I gave my usual history spiel, however this time I was proud to display our recent efforts that had made the Dow Springs site much more visible. A little over a month ago I worked with our Williams Youth Conservation Corps and Coconino Rural Environmental Corps to remove nearly 100 years of accumulated pine needles and weeds from the historic logging railroad and cabin foundations. This simple but time consuming and tiring work made the interpreted historic site even more visible for the public to enjoy. It also gave a bunch of local kids some ownership in protecting the history of Kaibab National Forest that surrounds Williams and Parks.

 
As we skirted the head of the water filled canyon, we noticed beautiful lily pads in full bloom and abundant cattails. The sound of water trickling made the run even more enticing. In my 23 years working on the Kaibab National Forest, I've never seen this area so lush and green.At the Sycamore Canyon overlook Bruce hushed everyone. We then heard the sound of rushing water more than 2000 feet below us.   This meant that a spectacular sight was nearby - the thunderous water pour offs at Sycamore Falls, our final destination.


Due to the high humidity and cool temperatures, none of us carried water. By runs end we were dehydrated yet one more treat awaited us - the icy clear cold water of Dow Springs. I kicked myself for not bringing a large water bottle, so we drank straight from the spring.

 
After we outran mosquitos back to the cars at the trailhead, I promised everyone we had a good shot at seeing a rare gem - the roaring waterfalls. As we arrived at the Sycamore Falls trailhead (aka, the world famous crack climbing area also named "Paradise Forks")  we heard thunder overhead. I bounded out of the car and scurried as fast as I could to the south fork. I could hear all the comments about how the gang had never seen me so excited or run so fast (except for when I find an elusive Porcini Mushroom in the forest!).

video

We all marveled at the waterfalls, however with raindrops getting larger and thunder getting louder, the exposed overlooks with every single ponderosa donning multiple lightning scars signaled we needed to get back to the safety of the vehicles.  What a day!