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, July 26, 2015

Old Town Flagstaff Run..Bar None

An amazing turnout of 24 runners for the 5.7 mile loop of Flagstaff Urban Trail on Observatory Mesa. We had 4 newbies, including a native New Yorker passing through Flag. Having avoided the good old Urban Trail hill on our last few Observatory Mesa runs, it seemed that the hill turned up its slope. Perhaps it was upset that we now often abandon it in favor of the much gentler loop connector trail. Either way, the hill was steeper and the 1.6 miles to the gate seemed longer.

Once we topped out at the gate it was a pretty fast run back to Lower Coconino, aka, Old Town Flagstaff. Yup, the original townsite is not where downtown is today, but just to the west off Lower Coconino Avenue. I brought along a mid-1880s photo that shows the bars along the main drag.

We then made a stop at Old Town Springs where there is a small park today with water dribbling out of the town's orginal watering hole. Evidently, it was never very reliable. Our resident springs expert Abe Springer recounted its history as captured in Platt Cline's They Came to the Mountain. "Old Man Ramsey used to spend the night drowsing beside it, holding a dipper to catch its dribble, pouring his catch into a bucket as its weight every so often awoke him." (P.127)

We even found some ghosts of Flagstaff's past who tried to re-create the historic photo in front of the bars.

As we returned to the pavement and modern day Flagstaff, the large NATRA crowd took over the streets of the historic neighborhood. We then packed the Kickstand and replenished our dehydrated bodies.

There will not be a run for the next two weeks as Machine Solutions 10/5K and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon/5K kick off the second half of the Run Flagstaff Summer Series. Registration is available at http://www.runflagstaff.com - and don't forget, today at 4 PM head down to Hops on Birch for the BBBSF fundraiser!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Skirting Walnuts and Bueberries

Despite another event full Flagstaff weekend, 16 NATRA runners with Kara's blueberry pancakes on their minds ran the Arizona Trail south along the edge of Walnut Canyon. Participants from Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff wondered if the promised deluge of rain was only a false hope. Without the threat of rain, the run was picture perfect.

Usually the viewpoint overlooks are the highlight of this run, however, they were easily outdone by Kara's post-run breakfast blueberry pancake feast. With bellies full, the discussion went from Imogene Pass cut off times to imminent to Switzerland and Italy trips.

Foremost on my mind is the upcoming Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Dave McKay Memorial Half Marathon which is only 3 weeks away (August 8th)! This is Arizona's second oldest (38 years running) half marathon which is always loaded with surprises. If you have not done so, register today at https://register.chronotrack.com/reg/form?eventID=11104! Next week's run will be to Railroad Springs. Meet at Thorpe Park Bark Park at 8 AM!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Soulstice Preview: A Chilling Summer Run


Was it Fall already? The weather guessers predicted a warm sunny day with the return of monsoons several days away. Greatly fooled, the 16 runners who arrived dressed for a hot summer run up the Sunset Trail questioned whether they had been transported to the often wintery starting line of October's Soulstice Mountain Trail Run (amazingly only 3 months away!). With the damp, chilly start to the summer, the wildflowers and mushrooms seemed about a month ahead of pace. Even the columbines were thriving.

After the tough 6 mile loop, thanks to CLIF, we enjoyed sampling their new line of organic energy food. Northern Arizona Trail Runners gave the thumbs up to all flavors including Pizza Margarita, Sweet Potato with Sea Salt, Banana Mango Coconut, and Banana, Beet with Ginger. ‪#‎RealFoodAthlete‬


Re-engerized, NATRA returned to the Kickstand for post-run coffee, the sun broke through the clouds, we sat outside, and it felt like summer had momentarily returned. Next week's run will be at the Arizona Trail trailhead off Old Walnut Canyon Road. We will run south on the Arizona Trail to the view points along Walnut Canyon. Afterwards we will head to Kara's house for a Blueberry Pancake breakfast!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Turning up the Heat on the Arizona Trail

I knew we were going to have a good turn out for today's run when Steve and Marielle asked to carpool from my house. As we arrived, the circle of runners had nearly filled the parkiing lot. With some already on the trail, and others a bit late, we had the 3rd highest group run ever! 31 runners celebrated the day before Solstice (not to be confused with the other one....) as temperatures soared to near record levels on the last day of what has been such a wet spring.

The aspen groves were still damp from the late Spring rains, and we even found pools of water in the side drainagages. Thanks to Abe Springer's keen eye, we even spied a rare Bebbs Willow that seemed to be thriving as a result of the thinning that has taken place on the slopes above the Nature Conservancy's Hart Prairie Preserve.

The trail teemed with wildlife with runners spotting a doe, a young elk, coyotes, a fox and the call of coyotes!

Most of the wildflowers were blue and purple with the wild irises most happy from the recent rains. Once at the turn around, several investigated Bismarck "Lake" which is usually dry this time of year, but not so in this anomalous spring.

Once back we all crammed into the Kickstand and laughed that the coffee shop really needs to add on the NATRA loft! Up next is the Vista Hospice Run for Life next Saturday! Register and learn about the race at http://www.northlandhospice.org/events/ ‪#‎flagstafftrailrunning‬ ‪#‎arizonatrailrunning‬

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Rain Forest Running in Williams, Arizona?

Normally I would never call this run in June. Fire danger is often extreme, and the Bill Williams Mountain watershed is always the first area the Kaibab National Forest closes to the public to reduce the risk of human caused forest fires. Not this June.

Ten NATRA runners began the slow 2400 foot ascent, most "yogging" by mile 0.2 miles. Yup, it was a shuffle of walking, jogging, and leaping over 13 downed trees to the top. Along the way, the dark conifter forest was still drenched from an overnight soaking. It felt more like we were in the middle of the northwest rain forest! I questioned whether we had entered another dimension in the Twilight Zone.
For the first time, (mostly because I have never made it to the top), the entire group completed the full round-trip of 8 miles in just over two hours.  We had plenty of fun climbing the lookout tower and enjoying the magnificent 360 degree views. The lookout tower also provided the perfect backdrop for the largest NATRA group selfie ever.

The fast and furious descent was reminiscent of scenes from Return of the Jedi where speeder bikes thrashed through the forest. A couple of encounters with downed trees and rocks did not result in exploding runners, just a few bruises.

While most of the run was quite cool, the sun was shining brightly on the last section of trail and many runners were parched. The solution of course was to pay a visit to Cafe 326 where iced drinks replenished the dehydrated runners. Next week meet at 7:40 AM at the base of Snowbowl Road and Highway 180 and we will run the Arizona Trail from Aspen Corner to Bismarck Lake, about 8 miles round trip. See ya there!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Return of El Nino

Conisdering El Nino has taken Flagstaff hostage for the third straight weekend, a surprising 22 NATRA runners (a new Waterline record) including 8 NATRA newbies basked in what may or may not be winter's last hurrah . As Waterline is now nearly void of trees due to the 2010 Schultz Fire, we were thankful for the chill in the air. At the same time last year we sizzled in the hot early summer sun.

(at home after the run, I found an old photo taken exactly 6 years ago today, under oddly, very similar conditions with 21 runners! Here is the blog from that day!

As I mostly ran alone, chilled to the bone, I could hardly believe that I had to get my act together organizing the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Half Marathon, that is less than 10 weeks away. Which reminds me, if you have a second, please like and share the new bbbsf half page on facebook. I am hoping for record numbers and fundraising this year!

Once off the hill, we took over the Kickstand filling nearly every table. Next week's run is Schultz Creek Trail up to the Lincoln Logs, meet at the "Y" at 8 AM.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Change is Inevitable

 (Thanks to Bruce Higgins for the post and David Blanchard for sharing his photos)
A baker's dozen of brave humans plus two pooches gathered for a snowy Saturday run - only the find a beautiful, if breezy, morning awaiting!

Since the run was a change from the previously planned Schultz Creek out-&-back, we didn't hesitate to change it again from Oldham to McMillan Mesa loop. The changed out-&-back change included a relatively new segment of this trail on the Switzer Canyon edge that provides excellent views of Flagstaff and points west.

 Most ran this route for today, but a few ran a changed out-&-back changed loop change route instead.

Since the total mileage was fairly short, many added a changed put-&-back changed loop changed change to the end in Buffalo Park. Coffee & breakfast at The Kickstand followed. No one ordered Spam - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

 Next Saturday's run is our tradition Memorial Day venture to the Waterline Tunnel and back (about 6 miles). Meet at 7:40 AM at the "Y" at Schultz Creek to carpool up to the Schultz Tank Trailhead.