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Picture Canyon

An image of Picture Canyon taken by Neil Weintraub, an archaeologist on the Kaibab National Forest. Wientraub has been using Google's Street View to create images with 360-degree views of historical and archaeological sites in the region.

"It was a dark and stormy night," begins one of Snoopy's never-to-be-finished fantasy novels. Being the dog in this classic Charles Schultz cartoon has always been easy for a beagle with a good life as supported by that round-headed kid and a second existence lived solely in the reveries of a doggy imagination.

Snoopy can be difficult, but usually his good nature twinkles forward at the appropriate moment. Of course, he and all the other Peanuts characters are sometimes soured by what is happening in their lives, but isn't that true of most of us?

The various Schultz personalities are famous for recovering from life's little snags in time to leave the reader smiling. And that's why I start my day reading about the latest adventures of those folks. Grin early and often is my motto.

Around 4:30 a.m., Wednesday, January 31, 2018, the night sky as seen from Buffalo Park was dark, but not stormy as the moon was beginning a rare total eclipse cycle. Viewing the super blue blood phases that would be happening to the moon promised to be exciting.

I parked on Gemini Road so as to not distract others in the area with the glare of my headlights and walked to where our urban trail enters Buffalo Park from the west. It was an excellent viewing platform.

When more people began arriving the flash of multiple vehicle lights became almost nonstop. Dogs were suddenly having disputes, music crept from car radios and words of human annoyance were heard. Yikes!

I'd hoped for more peaceful, quiet moments of wonderment. I decamped from Buffalo Park and completed my observation of those incredible events in our night sky at the top of the hill behind the Picture Canyon parking lot.

And speaking of our recently established official natural and cultural preserve and a Flagstaff treasure, Picture Canyon has enjoyed a wealth of visitors since being opened to the public.

I'm responsible for re-stocking the maps and removing the accumulated trash at the trailhead and am elated by how many maps have been distributed. Plus, being troubled by how much trash accrues there every week, even though there's a sign requesting folks to heed the "Pack it in/Pack it out" ethic. But that's another story.

What this column is about is a clear violation of individual responsibility. Sections of the Picture Canyon trail system are being greatly disfigured by motorized dirt bike activities. And yes, the canyon has been posted as Flagstaff Open Space and that engined transportation is not allowed.

I have helped build dirt bike trails off Highway 180 and Lake Mary Road inside designated motorized areas and personally know many users of those facilities have helped in the building of other trails from which they are restricted. I am also positive the folks in that category are excellent citizens who respect community rules.

Am I disturbed by the inconsiderate dilly dillys damaging our Picture Canyon trails? You bet I am and would appreciate hearing some reasonable solutions to it's growing trail problems.

And also how we can persuade more people to start honoring the posted 'Pack it in/Pack it out" request.


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