Thousands of people packed the streets of downtown Flagstaff on Saturday for Tequila Sunrise, but this year’s annual binge-drinking event was another tame affair.
Over 30 police officer and firefighters were stationed in downtown and Southside to control and protect the students, alumni and tourists who flock to the bars at 6 a.m. but the day turned out to be relatively quiet for public safety officers.
Flagstaff Police Officer Ryan Priest couldn’t help but smile in shock at the tipsy but well-behaved crowds that moved from bar to bar without incident.
“It has been a really good event this year,” Priest said. “It seems like there are less people and everyone is on their best behavior.”
Flagstaff Fire Department Capt. Jeff Bierer waited patiently across from the Weatherford Hotel for any calls for service but none came, much to his surprise.
“Tequila Sunrise has been incredibly calm this year,” Bierer said. “It is kind of funny, the Fire Department has been getting plenty of calls today but none of them are around here.”
This was the second straight year that police saw a reduction in total arrest and calls for service.
Police made two arrests this year for assault and obscene conduct and filed six total reports for theft, criminal damage and assault. Police made five arrests and filed nine reports in 2016.
This year’s Tequila Sunrise featured the same atmosphere, with people waiting in long lines to get into Collins Irish Pub, Monsoon and The Mayor at 6 a.m., but downtown and Southside were sparsely populated after the bars opened and everyone went inside.
By 8 a.m. long lines again began to form and sidewalks became more crowded; however, drinkers mostly followed the rules by staying off the streets and waiting for the proper signals.
This year’s event also marked the first time in two years that police were not forced to enact emergency road closures on North Leroux Street and Aspen Avenue, which allowed cars to move around the downtown area with little difficulty.
“Usually we have to close the streets but it looks like this year we may not have to” Priest said.
Tequila Sunrise participants also seemed more aware of proper forms of sexual consent according to Sharon Baudelaire, who is the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator at Northland Family Help Center.
“We are always worried about sexual assaults especially when you have events where alcohol is involved like at Tequila Sunrise,” Baudelaire said. “But it seems like this year that students are more aware of what proper consent is.”
Throughout the day Baudelaire and her team of volunteers gave out free food and water bottles along with tags that said “consent is BAE,” with “BAE” meaning consent before anything else.
Portable toilets next to the busiest bars kept public urination to a minimum but some people still sneaked behind dumpsters to relieve themselves.
Participants of Tequila Sunrise said this year’s event was still a good time but more mellow than they expected
Northern Arizona University student Nick Bury, who was participating in his fourth Tequila Sunrise, said this year’s party had the same feel as last year’s.
“The crowds and the bars seem about the same as last year to me,” Bury said as he waited to enter Cornish Pasty Company in Southside. “Everything is more spread out now with the Mayor over here so it seems less hectic.”
Arizona State University Student Adam Caskie said he liked the fact that Tequila Sunrise was becoming more spread out and described the scene downtown and in Southside as “relaxed.”
“It feels like there are less people here, but I like that,” Caskie said. “It means that I don’t have to wait in line to get into a lot of these bars.”
Alex Smith, who was heading north toward downtown after leaving Southside Tavern, said Tequila Sunrise was still the best time of the year, despite what she thought were smaller crowds.
“This year seems like there are a lot less people but Tequila Sunrise is still the best time of the year.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are targeting environmental rules to allow faster approval for tree cutting in national forests in response to the deadly wildfires in California.
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said lawmakers will vote next week on a bill to loosen environmental regulations for forest-thinning projects on federal lands. The GOP argues the actions will reduce the risk of fire.
The Republican bill "includes reforms to keep our forests healthy and less susceptible to the types of fires that ravaged our state this month," McCarthy said Thursday.
California has declared a public health emergency in the northern part of the state, where fires that began Oct. 8 have killed at least 42 people, making them the deadliest series of wildfires in state history. Authorities have warned residents returning to the ruins of their homes to beware of possible hazardous residues in the ashes, and required them to sign forms acknowledging the danger.
The GOP bill is one of at least three being considered in Congress to address wildfires. Republicans and the timber industry have long complained about environmental rules that make it difficult to cut down trees to reduce fire risk. Plans to harvest trees on federal lands can take years to win approval.
Democrats and environmental groups decry GOP policies they say would bypass important environmental laws to clear-cut vast swaths of national forests, harming wildlife and the environment.
Democrats also complain that Republican proposals don't acknowledge or address root causes for increasingly severe wildfire seasons, such as climate change or increased development near forest lands.
Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Congress needs to act.
"We must ask ourselves: What kind of future are we leaving for the next generation when we have failed to conserve federal forests that overwhelm the sky with thick smoke and ash when they burn?" asked Barrasso, chief sponsor of the Senate GOP bill and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., sponsor of the House bill, said fires devastating communities across California, Montana and other western states show "how years of unmanaged federal forests have wreaked havoc on our environment, polluting our air and water and destroying thousands of acres of wildlife habitat."
The flurry of legislation comes as the Forest Service has spent a record $2.4 billion battling forest fires in one of the nation's worst fire seasons. Wildfires have burned nearly 9 million acres across the country, with much of the devastation in California, Oregon and Montana.
As of Thursday, six large fires were still burning in the West, including four in California.
The other measures in Congress include a bipartisan Senate bill that would authorize more than $100 million to help at-risk communities prevent wildfires and create a pilot program to cut down trees in the most fire-prone areas. The bill also calls for detailed reviews of any wildfire that burns over 100,000 acres.
Barrasso's bill would waive environmental reviews for projects up to 6,000 acres and overturn a federal court decision that forced more consultation between the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service on forest management projects.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said the House GOP bill ignores climate change and does little more than waive existing laws.
"Denying science and waiving the National Environmental Policy Act is the Republican prescription for everything," said Grijalva, the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee.
The panel's chairman, Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, called the GOP bill "the only solution on the table to bend the cost curve of fire suppression and prevent wildfires from becoming uncontrollable, life-threatening calamities."
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tim Freriks remembers being a kid and gazing up from the bottom of the Grand Canyon at the intimidating, steep walls looming thousands of feet overhead. He dreaded the long hike back to civilization and never imagined he would one day run up the trail snaking along those cliffs.
The distant memory came to mind this month after Freriks blazed from the North Rim to the South Rim at a blistering pace, crossing the 21-mile (34-kilometer) chasm to claim what is called the "fastest known time," or FKT. There was no prize, only bragging rights to the unofficial record that has become a focus for athletes in all kinds of pursuits on trails, mountains and cliffs.
Endurance feats at what amounts to warp speed have captured the imagination of an increasing number of trail runners, climbers and mountaineers. Social and mainstream media now create attention for the once largely solitary figures and audiences for their accomplishments — and sponsorship dollars sometimes follow.
Freriks' "rim to rim" run in under 2 hours and 40 minutes was one of three notable marks recorded this month alone. His time broke the previous record of 2 hours, 51 minutes set by Rob Krar of Flagstaff in 2012.
A French winemaker took fewer than three days to cover 221 miles (356 kilometers) up Mount Whitney and across the John Muir Trail through Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks. Two California rock climbers broke a speed record climbing the sheer granite wall of El Capitan in Yosemite in under 2 hours 20 minutes — a climb that typically takes experienced climbers three days.
These increasingly popular quests have been driven in part by development of lighter gear, growth in long-distance trail running and the ability of people to follow athletes' progress online, said Shawn Bearden, an avid trail runner and physiology professor at Idaho State University.
And some people are just bucking traditional contests and racing when they want.
"The FKT stuff is a cool dynamic," said Freriks, who slept under the stars on the rim of the canyon the night before his Oct. 1 run. "It's competitive, but the other side of the coin is it's impromptu. You're out there alone a lot of the time. There isn't much publicity. It feels more pure."
There's a long history of adventurers setting out to conquer firsts. Sailors have long attempted 'round the world journeys for record time. Swimmers have successfully tested the English Channel since 1875. But bagging Mount Everest "because it's there," as George Mallory famously said before his ill-fated 1924 quest, isn't enough for some mountaineers now pushing the limits through thin air to reach the summit fastest.
"I think it's a natural human tendency to keep pushing back the human boundaries of what's perceived to be possible — like trying to set a world record," said Peter Bakwin, a Colorado trail runner, who created a website to track fastest times.
Treks and climbs that once took months, weeks and days are now being knocked off in weeks, days and mere hours.
As keeper of the unofficial record, Bakwin has also found himself as reluctant arbiter of whether a claim is legit. What was once self-reported on the honor system can now be backed with global positioning system data, digital photos and social media posts.
A woman's claim to the fastest time on the Appalachian Trail last year was widely questioned by other hikers and remains in dispute.
Even well-accepted marks are often fleeting.
Bakwin was the first known to run the Muir Trail in under four days — a trek along the most dramatic and scenic sections of the Sierra Nevada that takes a typical backpacker two to three weeks.
Although he was running around the clock to cover about 50 miles (80 kilometers) daily and sleeping short periods under a space blanket, Bakwin said he took time to smell the flowers. He remembered being tired and sore one night cresting a mountain pass under a full moon.
"It was magical," he said. "It's hard to explain the attraction of pushing your limits of endurance in nature. Some people get it and some people think it's totally crazy."
His best time from 2003 didn't last a year and it's been chipped away at ever since. No one broke the three-day barrier until Francois D'haene, one of the world's top trail runners, shattered the previous best time Oct. 17 by about 12 hours, finishing in less than 2 days and 20 hours.
"I feel like I've had a great adventure," D'haene remarked afterward. "Been lost in the middle of nowhere in stunning landscapes."
D'haene had plenty of support from his sponsor Salomon, including a team of pacers who took turns carrying food and water and running with him. He only rested six hours over three days.
Four days after D'haene reached the end of the trail, climbers Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds on the other side of Yosemite Valley broke the speed record set on the Nose route of El Cap.
They scaled the 2,900-foot (884-meter) vertical granite wall in 2 hours and 19 minutes, trimming four minutes from the mark set five years earlier by Hans Florine and Alex Honnold.
They took greater risks in going light to chase the record, bringing little gear to protect against a fall, not carrying water and climbing simultaneously near the top.
Florine, who has held that record eight times since he and another partner finished it in just over eight hours in 1990, was one of the first to congratulate them.
"It's like a marathon time," he said. "People don't think about breaking the marathon time by more than 30 seconds. Four minutes off our time is awesome."
Florine said his voicemail was full of messages asking if he'd try again, but at 53 he said feels too old. He gave Honnold his blessing to go for it with a new partner in the spring.
Freriks, 26, the same age as Florine when he set his first record on the Nose — foresees his record being broken and trying to reclaim it.
The day after he covered the grueling 10,550 feet of elevation change on the Kaibab Trail, he was "back to the same old grind" at the Flagstaff hospital where he works 12-hour shifts as a nurse three days a week.
He was exhausted by Thursday that week. But on Saturday, he ran and won the 55-kilometer (34-mile) Flagstaff Sky Race. This time, though, he didn't record an FKT — he set the official course record.