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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Finding a Grandma approved hike…

THIS WAS NOT IT!!!!

About a month ago, I bought Hiking Northern Arizona.  It’s a book that describes hikes in the area as well as how to find them.  My friend has a copy and we had gone on some awesome hikes because of it.  On top of that, I bought the Sedona copy as well for my grandmother.

With plans to spend the long weekend in February in Sedona, I wanted her and my two cousins to begin thinking about some hikes.  My cousin Margaret, who was bitten by the hiking bug on last year’s trip to Flagstaff, chose Devil’s Bridge.

I had the good sense to test the hike before everyone came.  Now the problem with labeling hikes as “easy” or “hard” is that everyone is different.  There are also different parts to a hike.  Some parts are easy, some are hard. This one, I felt was a little misleading.

If you are interested in buying my book, or any book from the series, here’s the Amazon link. http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Northern-Arizona-3rd-Adventures/dp/0762741422

Devil’s Bridge

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

Temperature: 60s-70s!  Loving the southwest weather!

Who: Marshall and me

Difficulty: It varied, there are easy parts and there are strenuous parts

Time: 3.5 hours

So this was the thing almost tripled the length of our hike.

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My little car is a Nissan Altima, and I absolutely could not make this dirt road drive.  I needed to drive about 2 miles up to it to get to the trailhead.  So, we stopped here, and started a little bit further back.

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We followed the Chuckwagon Trail.  And honestly, it was a very pretty hike.  We hiked through a dry canyon , with the red rocks coming up on either side of us.  The area was wooded and well shaded.  Marshall had fun beginning the year’s sunburn early while naming all of the plants, trees, and shrubs along the way.

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We passed by, and were passed by many different people.  The trail was more crowded than I’m used to.  But honestly, no surprise.  The weather was beautiful and uncommonly mild for this time of year.  It seems everyone wanted to soak in the sun while strolling around in tanks, t-shirts, and shorts. Our weather has been taunting the midwest blizzard.

As we talked to some of the other hikers, we found that many of them had thought the same thing we had, that this was going to be an easy hike.  Many people were ill prepared for the longer hike.

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It was about here that we learned we had about another two miles before we even got to the trailhead….

And about an hour later…

DSC00459So we had to take a picture to celebrate completing the first half of the hike.

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Our favorite pic from the hike.

At first the trail was extremely easy.  We were tricked once again.  The trail was nice and wide.  Nice and level.  And still nice and crowded with foot traffic.  Many of the local jeep tours take people to the beginning of the trail.  About two were there when we got there.

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And then the climb began, and didn’t really stop.  Parts of it were easy enough like this, others were not as easy, causing us to get on all fours.  Marshall, who grew up with goats managed easily enough. I, on the other hand, hailing from the flats lands, took it a little slower.  As we climbed up, the people climbing down promised us that going up was the easier part.

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Right before the second round of climbing, we stopped to take a quick picture.

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And finally we made it!  Honestly, it was worth it.

Devil’s Bridge is a natural arch.  There is no river, and most of the erosion was caused by wind and rain.  Despite looking so tiny and delicate, the arch is wide and people were walking across it, taking pictures.   Just to prove they did it.

It was fun, but not recommended if you have a natural fear of heights.

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By the way, the view was spectacular.  Sad I didn’t get more pictures of it.

 

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Now it was back down, and while it was not easy, it was not bad either.   And like many of the others we hiked down from Devil’s Bridge with, we took the dirt road back home.

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Over all, if you have the time and the energy I would do it!  The trail is well traveled, and honestly we were very rarely alone.  We were also very tired, and hungry.  However, not to sore in the morning.  I recommend a hot shower when you’re done.

A New Year…

Written 01-12-2014

And it’s time for some New Years Resolutions.  I have three.

1.) Keep my desk at school clean and clear of stray papers.  (Already Failed)

2.) To be more conscious of what I’m eating.  (So far so good, unless I have the opportunity to eat fry bread.  Then it’s a fail.)

3.) To take advantage of this amazing place I’m living in/travel more.

So while 1 and 2 might seem very generic, I’m really looking forward to number 3!  And what a way to start out the new years resolution!  I went with a small group and had no real plans other than to enjoy the local scenery.

The Toes

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Location: A local hiking area called the Toes

Temperature: Was in the range of the 50s.  So while the rest of the country freezes, we are enjoying an uncommonly warm winter.

Who: My friend/coworker Jackie, my boyfriend Marshall, and the dog Diesel Dan

Difficulty: Moderate to  strenuous

Time: 1.5 hours

We started off with no real intention, and we were throwing ideas around as to where we might go first.  The Toes are full of possibilities and I’ve never done the same hike twice.  There are multiple sites of pictographs and remains of native housing.  Though you can’t see it in this picture, there is a giant K tagged on the rocks that you can go to.  There are some formal ceremonial points that make you wonder if the ceremony was about bravery.  Plus some awesome look out points that give you a good view of the local scenery: Black Mesa, Skeleton Mesa, Laguna Creek, and El Capitan.

To get to the rock formation, first we had to climb in and out of an off shoot of Laguna Creek.  Since the weather has been so wonderful, most of the snow has already melted and had begun to run off to join the larger body of water.

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Diesel stands poised, ready to jump in

With Diesel, it’s not a matter of IF he will find water and get dirty, it’s WHEN he will find water and get dirty.  His vote is to always go to Laguna Creek, where he is able to splash and play in the water, and potentially get all of us wet and muddy too.

To much of his dismay, the three humans vetoed Diesel’s desire to continue getting wet and muddy.  Instead we headed towards the actual rock formation.  Before we got to it, we had to first treck over some sand dunes.  Thankfully it’s just cold enough to keep the ground frozen, and make the hiking a little easier.

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Our trail blazer

Diesel seemed unconcerned and unhampered by the sand.  He spent most of the time running ahead of us and then running back to us.

As we neared the base of the rock, we saw we were not the only ones who were enjoying the nice weather.  There are usually people who enjoy the toes.  Some just enjoy the hiking and exploring.  Some use it for their horses, and others use it as part of their exercise routine.  Many times the athletes or service men and women home on leave will run up and down that 45* face.  Which was Jackie’s plan too.

ImageImageSo up the slate rock, my least favorite part of the Toes.

ImageOur goal was to get to the very top and enjoy our lunches and take in the view.  It was a little stop and go, but eventually all three of us made it to the top.  Diesel made it to the top a couple of times.

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More than one close calls with this dog

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While the girl’s talked, the boys explored

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The views made the hike worth it.

Then it was back down the slate slightly, to come down the other side of the Toes.

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I always seem to forget what is on the other side of the actual Toes, and it seems to forget that the rest of the word exists as well.  It is dead silent.   Which is weird to think about, since 163 is not that far away.  I grew up around noise: cars, music, tv, people.  It’s nice to find a place that is silent almost all of the time.

The scenery might seem out of place too.  Being a desert, you’d expect more sand and less green.  But thanks to a heavy rainy season, we were able to enjoy some more vegetation.  There are a variety of shrubs and trees, along with different types of cactus.  I tend to get myself poked with them at least once on every trip.

And if this is here, waiting to be explored, what else is waiting for me? Over the next few hills.  I haven’t done much exploring beyond the Toes, but I’m thinking I might have to go see more as time allows me to.

Overall it was a nice hike to start off the new year.  A little old, mixed with a little new.  As Jackie put it, it’s hard to imagine that we live here.  We live in this little corner of the world that is so beautiful, it’s no stretch of the imagination why the local tribe considered it sacred.  I’m looking forward to the  next few adventures that await us!

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Timer fail

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Marshall, Myself, and Jackie