in Rim Country, White Mountains of Arizona & Beyond...
By ROB BETTASO
Periodically, our electric company mails out a summary of precipitation values for the year. In this portion of the White Mountains, generally the driest time is mid to late spring. In other words, now.
Given our current temperate weather, I have been mountain biking the local Apache-Sitgreaves (A-S) National Forest Trail System as much as possible. Later in our warm season, when the monsoons kick in, the trails can become a quagmire, making biking nearly impossible. Additionally, in a few more weeks, the trails will see much greater hiking and equestrian use from visiting desert dwellers -- up in the High Country to escape the heat.
Over the years, I have hiked the nearby Panorama Trail (PT) a few times and have always meant to give it a spin on my bike. This spring, I decided the time had come to pedal the PT. So, on a recent morning, I aired up my bike’s tires, lubed the chain, put a few items in a day pack and set off for what I expected would be a leisurely half-day jaunt.
Distance-wise, the PT is a very reasonable ride as, at its longest, it is only a 9.5-mile loop. At two points along the Trail, you can reduce the mileage by taking an authorized and well-marked short-cut. The Forest Service trail guide ranks the difficulty of biking the PT is a very reasonable ride as, at its longest, it is only a 9.5-mile loop. At two points along the Trail, you can reduce the mileage by taking an authorized and well-marked READ MORE...
Tour of White the Mountains
Submitted by Nick Lund
The 21st annual Tour of the White Mountains (TWM), held on Saturday, October 1, was a great success, with the largest registration (700) in the history of the event. Mountain bike riders rode single track trail rides of 9, 35 or 50 miles or a 30-mile forest road ride on the 200+ mile White Mountains Trail System (WMTS) in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests of NE Arizona. Some ride competitively and others for their own challenge. The winner of the 50-mile ride was Paul Fabian from Prescott in the junior male category, with a time of 3:56:32 and the winner of the 35-mile ride was Caleb Hackey of Show Low in the junior male category, with a time of 2:34:13. Race results are posted on www.epicrides.com. A short “kids ride” was held in the start/finish area to introduce mountain biking to youngsters. PLACES, the Pinetop Lakes Equestrian Center, serves as the start/finish area. For the 50-mile ride, riders left Places on Buck Springs Road; turned left on the railroad grade trail; right on the Iron Horse Connector trail; rode about half of the Country Club trail; took the Chipmunk Connector trail to the Los Burros trail; rode about half of Los Burros; took the Vernon-McNary Road to the Land of Pioneers trail; rode about half of LOP; started their return on the 4 Springs trail; reconnected with Los Burros; finished Los Burros; returned on the Chipmunk; finished Country Club and returned to PLACES. The Tour of the White Mountains was started 21 years ago by the regional hospital, grew larger than the hospital wanted to manage, so management was turned over to Epic Rides of Tucson. Last year was the first time in the history of the TWM that a bear had to be chased off the course so riders could proceed safely! TRACKS members pin flag the TWM routes and, with volunteers from other non-profits, served at aid stations, critical turns and other locations. TRACKS, the Navajo County Sheriff’s Auxiliary, Kachina Radio Club, Pinetop Fire Dept., Summit Regional Medical Center Auxiliary and the White Mountains Open Trails Assn., are glad to help support the Tour of the White Mountains. Pinetop Fire Department cooked a pancake breakfast on Sunday as a fund raiser for needy families and the unused aid station supplies were donated to the Love Kitchen. Each rider usually brings 1-4 support people, so not only is the TWM a great, “clean industry” community event, it provides a significant economic benefit to the region.
All White Mountains Trail System major trails are loops, with connector trails linking them, so users may go on short or long excursions in one of the largest Ponderosa pine forests of the United States. Trail maps may be printed for free from the TRACKS website (www.trackswhitemountains.org). TRACKS is a 350+ member volunteer non-profit organization, authorized by the US Forest Service to build and maintain the WMTS. TRACKS volunteers marked the WMTS with white, reflective trail diamonds, some of which are coded (e.g. LB1, LB2, etc. for the Los Burros trail) and spaced every 1/4 mile on the 200+ mile trail system. GPS coordinates for the coded diamonds were provided to all regional emergency responders, so that 911 callers tell the operator the code of the nearest diamond to them and responders can more readily locate the caller. Since installation of the coded diamonds, rescues have taken just 45 minutes or less, whereas previously it could take hours just to locate the user. TRACKS received the National Award for Community Service from American Trails at their International Trail Symposium in Scottsdale.
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