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.”

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Sedona Weekend Part 1

Last weekend, my two cousins and my grandma (Baba) came out for their annual Arizona vacation.

Last year they came out to Flagstaff, beginning our yearly tradition.  And I had a lot to live up to.  We had gone to Wupatki, Sun Set Crater, the Grand Canyon, and the downtown Flag area.  I wasn’t sure if I could plan as great of a weekend as I did last year.

Allen’s Bend

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Location: Outside of Sedona, AZ, within Oakcreek Canyon

Temperature: 70s

Who: Grace, Margaret, Baba, and myself

Difficulty: Nice and even

Time: 1-2 hours

We left Flagstaff early Saturday morning for Sedona, AZ, taking route 89.  Now our country is blessed with many beautiful drives, in the many location the vast land has to offer.  Route 89 has got to be top ten, at minimum.  It’s full of switch backs, variety of trees, canyon views, and

Though I would beware, this is not the easiest drive.  Firstly, the switch backs.  You need to take your time and not feel rushed by the others around you.  Secondly, you will lose reception at the bottom of a canyon.  Thirdly, there are parked cars along the road as people pull off and enjoy the lesser known trails of Oak Creek Canyon.

Right before 89 pulls into Sedona, we pulled off onto the Grasshopper Trails.  There are a variety of trails, but the one we were looking for was Allen’s Bend.  We chose the trail for a few reasons, the main one being the minimal elevation gain.  (Do you realize how impossible it is to find a trail with little elevation gain in Sedona, Arizona in general?)

Now, while the trail was somewhat level, the girls found plenty of places to climb.

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DSC00559 Before they came out, everyone got their first pair of hiking boots, except for me.  And Margaret (pink) and Gracie (grey) were having lots of fun breaking them in.  I was very jealous.  I’m still hiking in my gym shoes, and spend most hiking trying not to slip down the side of whatever I’m hiking.

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DSC00575And when I say they were climbing on everything, I mean everything!  My aunts and uncles are going to kill me after they see some of these photos.

That’s what’s nice about this trail. There were parts that they could enjoy climbing while the rest of us could keep our feet on the ground.

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Now the trail is varied.  We enjoyed walking through the forested areas on a level trail.

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Other parts were a little rocky.  Which made Baba a little nervous.  Not surprising though.

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And of course you there are always the views of the Red Rocks.  It’s no wonder this area was so popular to visit.

DSC00582 DSC00583And then it was back into the car, and back onto 89.  We were driving into the Sedona area, looking forward to the next adventure.

Fay Canyon

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Location: Outside of Sedona, AZ. Trailhead is clearly marked

Temperature: Low 70s

Who: Margaret, Grace, Baba, and Me

Difficulty: Maintained trail was easy, past that it was big climb

Time: 2 hours

So after lunch in Uptown Sedona, we went for a second hike last week Saturday.  By the way, Uptown Sedona is a lot of fun to go to.  We got some delicious pizza.  Went shopping in some cool downtown shops.  Picked up some dog treats for Bentley who was left behind at her best friend Sally’s.

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The trail was nice and flat, very little elevation gain.  Thank goodness.  However, our two adventurers were a little stir fry.  I was more than looking forward to a nice calm walk.  To compromise, the adventurers went off the trail (a big trail no-no)  and went to walk along the dried river bed.

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By the way, this was the scenery almost the entire hike.

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Now the reason why we had chosen the hike was the possibility of a arch at the end of the hike. Now what I read about was that if you didn’t know you were looking for it, you might not see. And they were right, compared to Devil’s Bridge Fay Bridge was hard to see.  We never got close to it really.  You’re supposed to take a side trail, that we completely missed.

We missed it on purpose.  Silly us.

see the arch?

see the arch?

As we met other hikers, we found that they had not seen the bridge either.  We hiked until we came to this…

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Baba chose to hang back from the portion of the unmaintained trail while myself and the adventurers ran, or climbed, up the side of a butte.  We were promised Native ruins, but we enjoyed watching the view.

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We gave our Baba a bit of a heart attack, she saw how high up we were and must have resisted yelling at us to come down.  And Gracie said her one liner for the weekend: “I just realized we have to climb down this.”

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But the hike was totally worth it, look at those views.

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And then it was back down again.  No pictures of that.  A little too tricky.  Once we got our scolding it was time to go home.  Everyone was tired and looking forward to going back to the hotel and rest.

By the way, my favorite rock formation of Sedona…

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I might drink too much wine.