Butler Wash Hike

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a hike with Josh and Jamie.  In fact, the last hike I had gone on with them Sophia (the littlest hiker) was about five months from being born.

This family picture looked a little different back in August for the trip to the twin falls.

This family picture looked a little different back in August for the trip to the twin falls.

So Josh had a place he wanted to go see, we loaded up the cars with the kids and dogs.  Before you know it, we were on our way for a beautiful Sunday hike.

Butler Wash

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Location: Off of Highway 163, past Mexican Hat

Temperature: 60-70s (Never moving back to Illinois!)

Who: Josh, Jamie, Sophia (the littlest hiker), Charlie, Kate, Marshall, Diesel, Bentley, and Me

Difficulty: Down one side of a canyon and back up the other.

Time: 1-2 hours

It’s no doubt that Arizona has been left out of the winter storm vortex that the rest of the country has been enjoying, not that we are complaining.  The good weather has brought the best out of us and makes us want to get out and move.

The Crew: Myself, Marshall, Josh and Sophia, Jamie, Charlie, and Kate

The Crew: Myself, Marshall, Josh and Sophia, Jamie, Charlie, and Kate

After we parked the car, we got going, heading straight towards an old wash.  We knew of some pictographs and an old cliff dwelling.  Marshall had recently taken a course about archeology for his job, and was anxious to test his new skills.

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Diesel and Charlie rock skipping

Some of us moved faster than others… Now over all the goal was to get to the Anasazi ruins pictured a little above.  A little history of the region: In early American history, a cultural group settled the four corners region.  Their communities varied in size, but there is no doubt that the society was complex.  They farmed extensively in the area.  A huge distinction is the pueblos and the cliff dwelling they left behind. And we’re not quite sure why they were left.  Over farming, over hunting, drought, and group conflict are all possibilities.  We know that the migration was slow, but eventually final. They left their cliff dwellings and settled more of the region, their descendants became the Zuni, Hopi, Pueblo, and about ten other cultural groups. Anasazi is actually a term given to the Ancient Pueblo people by the Navajo tribe, who had moved in the area after the final migration. The term is reference to the Ancient One or Ancient Enemies.  Which is pretty much how the tribe views those who came before them.  Tradition says that you shouldn’t go to the Ancient Dwellings or Pueblos, for that’s when bad things happen.  When I have gone hiking with Navajos, many will hike with us to a point and then wait for the white people to be done poking around where we shouldn’t be. If you like the cliff dwelling, I would suggest starting at Mesa Verde.  It’s a National Park that has preserved some of what came before and the rangers are very knowledgeable about the Ancient Pueblos and the structures. Plus the dwellings at Mesa Verde are much easier to get to.  This is what we had to do to get to the Butler Wash. 1601576_976507430969_798898528_n DSC00644 Of course the four legged ones find it easier to get down then us humans. And after our little rock climbing adventure, we got to the pictographs.  Images left behind from those who had enjoyed this land before us.  Hand prints are popular, as are figures of people, sheep, and dogs.  The sad thing is that the images have used for target practice. DSC00651 DSC00654 DSC00655 We continued further down, following Josh who was figuring out how to get us closer to the cliff dwelling structure.  At the very bottom of the canyon, we found some cool surprises.

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One was some wild sage plants.  Sage is used in cooking and medicine for the tribes in the region.  My Native coworkers tell me that drinking sage tea is one of the best things you can do when you are sick.  We picked some to dry and take home.  It’s still hanging off my hiking backpack.  My coworker and friend, Marsha, was excited to see it.  I’m saving it for the next time I’m sick.

And of course, Diesel found his water.

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I had never seen a dog so happy to get wet, but in he flew to be the first and only in the water.  Bentley, who is much more reserved than Diesel and afraid of water, hung back.  I’m okay with a dog that doesn’t need to get wet on every hike we go on.

Bentley overall stayed close to the humans.  She’s only been with me for a month, and still being a puppy prefers to stay close to her mama.  It’s the stray mentality that is still in the back of her mind, I’m her source of food.  And while she likes to go on hikes, but she’s not always sure about how to climb, or rather climb down just yet.

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Bentley: “I think I might be stuck.”

Though it’s not like she doesn’t try really hard to be a big dog.

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We walked the bottom of the wash and up the other side.  Bentley got stuck, not able to jump up the smaller boulders that we had to climb both up and down.  She watched Diesel do it, she watch the humans do it.  But in the end we had to lift her up.  But it was all worth it.  The ruins were worth it.

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The handsome archeologist

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And then we did it all backwards.   Including Bentley getting stuck within the same spot.  I’m looking forward to her being a bigger dog and getting used to our hiking adventures.  We passed by the  pictographs again, and Marshall found some more evidence of the Ancient Pueblos.  A grinding stone, he’s got the official name.  I don’t.

Finally we got back to the car.  We pulled out our picnic lunches.  Fruit, nuts, and OkeeDokee popcorn.  At the end of the day, this is what I got…

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Bentley: “I’m tired, but don’t tell Diesel.”

A tired puppy!

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Weekend in Sedona Part 2…

Do you know how many people from the Chicago land area were in Sedona a couple weekends ago?  Wear some Bears gear and you will find out.  I couldn’t go anywhere without some sort of comment or excited remark.

All you have to remember is that there was a blizzard in Chicago, and no one was in a rush to go back to the winter vortex.

By the way, did you ever notice how the longer vacation goes on the less photos you take?  I’m waiting for Margaret to send me her batch.

Our first stop was the Church in the rock, The Chapel of the Holy Cross.  Quiet breathtaking and very spiritually moving.

Notice the rock formation in the background?  Called the Lovers... among other things.

Notice the rock formation in the background? Called the Lovers… among other things.

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In the gift shop, Baba bought me a second hiking book.  Different hikes, different ideas.  It has different details about the hikes and we had fun comparing the two.  Take a look if you are interested.

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Sedona-Revised-Second-Edition-ebook/dp/B0063KUJR0

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte

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Bell Rock

Location: Off of highway 179.  (I hate round abouts)

Temperature: Low 70s

Who: Grace, Margaret, Baba, and myself

Difficulty: Nice and even

Time: 1-2 hours

My family is full of one liners.  Things that get said and repeated again and again because the memory of the moment  is priceless.  Those stories get passed on through the extended family again and again, until we forget who was actually their when the original line was said.

I will not forget the details of Margaret’s newest one liner.

The trail we took to get closer to the bell rock and courthouse was a combination of the Big Park Loop and the Courthouse Butte Loop.  We weren’t so concerned about distance, we just took whatever turn caught our fancy.  The trails are well used and well marked, several signs and map trails are through out the paths.  Not to mention there were a lot of people.

Courthouse Butte

Courthouse Butte

On purpose, my cousins steered us closer and closer to Courthouse Butte.  We let them get ahead of us, and my grandmother and I chatted about my job, things back in Illinois, and our family.  When we got to the girls, they had made a plan.

They found a little side trail.  They found a rock for Baba to relax on.  They were ready to go for a climb.

I went a little ways up with them before coming back down.  When I got back to Baba, I saw that she was looking at someone who had climbed further up the Butte.  All we can say is that we were happy to say that the girls did not get any ideas to keep climbing.

So we continued on the trail, saying hi to people.  Taking pictures, until we got tired of Gracie always being in the picture.

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Gracie conveniently forgot her camera, and of course Margaret and I could more than make up for her.  But sometimes you have to make the little one do the work.

After making Gracie take the picture, I thought we could try taking a group one.  And got a little to close to a cactus.  My family was kind enough to try and get them out for me.  Que Margaret: “Isn’t this supposed to be Marshall’s job?”

Yes…

No…

Can I pretend that I had a clever and witty tort back?

After getting the stickers out, we continued on.

Now I’ve claimed about crowded trails before, but this one was especially crowded.  We were passed by multiple bicycle groups and families.  Now supposedly there is a vortex nearby, but we never really got near it.  But that’s doesn’t mean we didn’t get to at least one vortex on our trip.

Airport Vortex

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Location: Nearby the Sedona Airport

Temperature: Low 70s

Who: Grace, Margaret, and myself

Difficulty: Slight decline to get to the vortex trail head, and a major scramble to get to the top

Time: 1-2 hours

When we got to where the trailhead was supposed to be, we found another crowded parking lot.  With no good place to turn around, I continued up and got to the scenic overlook at Airport Vista.  Slightly frustrated, the girls and I went to go see the views, take the pictures.  On the way back I noticed a trail that promised to take us down to the vortex.

Sedona View Trail

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We were going to get to it yet!

Baba, by this point, was ready for a break.  She told us to go ahead while she stayed behind and read in the car.   So that’s where I get that annoying habit from.  Good to know.

So off Margaret, Grace and I went.  Along with a family.  It was hard not to laugh, as they seemed to have left their filters at home.  We learned a little more about their desire to urinate than I think we really wanted to know.

The trail was narrow, with some rocks within it, but overall it was a nice walk down, and I mean down.  On the way to the vortex, we almost at a decline the entire time.  The trail however was less than a mile and lived up to it’s name.

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The trail itself was worth it.

Now the Vortex, the mystery around Sedona… I don’t know how much I want to comment on this.  My new hiking guide suggested that we go to the vortex with an open mind.  If you went up their just expecting to see the cool view and be able to say you climbed it, you’re going to have an awesome hike.  You feel something wonderful, that’s cool too.

The climb up to the vortex was tricky, but not impossible.  We did not take the marked path, but not too many people were following it.  Take it slow plan where you are going to put your hands and feet, you’ll be fine.

I did not feel anything from the vortex, though the view of the surrounding and the adrenaline of climbing it took my breath away.  It was fun to get to the top and see who else was there.

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Then it was back down, and we did follow the recommended trail.  We ran into who looked like a medicine man, or someone who visited the site often with musical instruments.  He kindly pointed out the trail markers for us to follow, and the climb down was easier than expected.

And then it was the uphill hike back to Baba and the car.  On our way back, we ran in to some more groups who asked us about the trail, the hike, and the vortex.  Since we were booking it back up the trail, we were winded and they always seemed a little skeptical when we promised them the hike was easier than it looked.

When we got back to our Baba, and told her about the hike, she took a closer look at original trail to Airport Vortex.  Her comment, “It was probably a good thing that I didn’t go, you girls up there would have made me nervous.”