In Honor of Katie Lee: A Road Trip to Northern Arizona

June 11, 2009

It's all David's fault. For Christmas, he gave me a book called "Sandstone Seduction" by Katie Lee. Katie is a former actress, folksinger, author and environmental activist with roots in Tucson. Her tales of skinny dipping in the Catalinas and singing in whorehouses in Nogales back in the 1950s turned me into an unapologetic groupie. When we learned there was an exhibition entitled "Naked Truth: The Katie Lee Exhibit" at NAU's Cline Library, it was obvious that we needed to plan a trip to Flagstaff.

We met David and Rogil at the "Haunted Hamburger" in Jerome, passing right by Katie's house on our way to dinner. From there, we continued north over the mountain via Perkinsville Road, camping on a bench high above the Verde River Valley. In the morning, we climbed high into the Kaibab National Forest, stopping along the way to explore some small canyons and motor to the top of Summit Mountain.

We celebrated Dennis' birthday at a coffee shop in Williams. He got two gifts: a polarizing filter (that he wanted) and a pair of canyoneering boots (that I wanted him to have).

After a pleasant couple of hours at the NAU Library, whose Katie collection is small but still pretty wonderful, there was just time to hike to the Inner Basin at Lockett Meadow.

We camped that night off Route 552 at 8500 feet where the reception was great, and Dennis partied on 80 meters while David and Rogil planned the next day's hike.

The Abineau-Bear Jaw loop is a seven-mile hike that begins at 8500 feet and climbs 2000 feet in two miles. Both the distance and the elevation gain are within my comfort zone, but the effects of high elevation are obvious in the following video. Oh well, the sweeping views of the snow-streaked San Franciso peaks and distant cinder cones made it well worth the effort.

That night it was back down to a sensible 5000 feet in elevation, camping in the red and green desert near Wet Beaver Creek. Early in the morning we hiked to the crack, and then bushwhacked out along the stream bed, dipping in one icy green pool after another.

A fantastic three days of sleeping under the stars, swimming in red-walled canyons and hiking to the top of the world. I think Katie would approve.