|It’s amazing what you can get done if you wake early enough.
I had set my alarm for 5am because I knew it would be light by then, but chirping birds woke me at 4:30. Turns out it was pretty light already by that time…so why not get a head start? I didn’t want to brew coffee at that hour (there are pretty strict rules in this campground about waking your neighbors before 7am and besides - that would have slowed me down). I wasn’t sure I would find anyplace open to buy coffee at 5 am, so my day started with a cup of cold coffee leftover from yesterday. Desperate measures…but I knew I would have a caffeine withdrawal headache if I didn’t have coffee before starting my hike. I figured (correctly) that my body wouldn’t know the difference if the caffeine was cold. I learned my lesson, though. In case I wake early tomorrow I am going to brew coffee just before bedtime and put it in a thermos!
I had left the campground in flip flops to minimize noise, so at the trailhead I got “geared up” with hiking boots, poles, snacks, the trail map, plenty of water and my brand new hat. I had seen one like it the first day I was in Sedona – out that the ruins – and wanted it but believed I didn’t really need a new hat. I had a “perfectly good one” until a gust of wind caused me to grab it yesterday and my thumb went right through it. Maybe it wasn’t so perfectly good after all….and I guess 12 years was a good length of time for a straw hat. Luckily I found the one I liked at the Ranger Station because I wasn’t about to battle the terrible road full of pink jeeps again, even for the perfect hat.
I was properly attired and on the trail before 6 am. The day was bright even at that hour but it was still cool and there was plenty of shade which was nice. Today’s hike goes into the category of “glad I did it; never want to do it again.” There was a steep ascent through a canyon, followed by a mile or so across the face of a rock wall. The good news was vegetation was plentiful so if I had slipped off the trail I wouldn’t have slid far. The bad news….most of the vegetation consisted of cacti. Once that portion of the trail was over I enjoyed a mile or two of wide path along “slickrock” as it is called here (no pebbles so the surface is nice to walk on) before beginning my descent. That was also slickrock. There were no long drops so it wasn’t scary but there were plenty of places I sat and slid rather than trying to walk down. I understand that is a perfectly acceptable hiking approach, especially when no one is watching.
I completed the 9 mile loop in 4 hours and 32 minutes… just two minutes longer than my goal pace. Pretty good considering a lot of the trail required caution. That gave me an hour to return to the campground, shower, and get to the sports bar before the Sooners first pitch at 11:30 local time. I made it with 10 minutes to spare and had the same great waitress and last night. I think I have turned her into a Sooners fan!
After a (RUN RULE!) victory I spent the afternoon getting ready for tomorrow’s departure. The teardrop is already hitched up though I won’t unplug until tomorrow since I’ve been enjoying my heated mattress pad at night. Laundry is all done and I even washed my accumulation of 6 used forks. (A fork is only dish I need when I eat tuna straight from the can.)
Before I leave Sedona I’ll mention some of what makes it so special – and what I believe is making it become a very busy place:
• the scenery could not be more strikingly beautiful. Red rocks against blue sky are complementary colors (opposites on the color wheel are ideal combinations of color) and the sky is almost always brilliantly blue.
• many believe there is healing power here. There are spots called “vortexes” (yes, I know that is not the conventional plural form of vortex) where electromagnetic energy has been measured to be higher than normal. Some believe that time spent in a vortex spot can strengthen aspects of our spiritual energy. [Personally, I find the mapped vortex spots did nothing for my energy because they were packed with people. It’s hard for me to feel energized in that setting, but if you plan to visit you might want to read about the vortexes before coming. I may have found some uncharted vortex spots while hiking because I felt some pretty fabulous energy on the top of that mesa today!] There is also a high concentration of people who practice healing – through massage, herbal medicine, and “new age” practices such as use of salts and crystals.
• there are hundreds of miles of trails. All are open to hikers and many are open to bikers. Sedona is becoming known as a mountain biking mecca on par with Moab, Utah. In fact the trail I was on today is used more often by bikers than by hikers. As difficult as it was for me to negotiate on foot, I could hardly imagine anyone being able to ride that trail…..but sure enough, I met folks with bikes. They are coming from all over the world because Sedona is developing a reputation for some of the most challenging trails anywhere. Likewise, rock climbers are quite understandably drawn to the many almost vertical rock faces here.
• there are LOADS of beautiful resorts, shops, spas, galleries, and restaurants. I haven’t frequented them (except for my sports bar) because there is nothing I need and I suspect everything is pricey. From what I see in walking or driving past, they are much like what I found in Santa Fe a few years ago – some of the most beautiful art and “wearable art” (both clothing and jewelry) in the world because the beauty (and maybe the energy) of Sedona attracts exceptional artists.
• and in case you want to fly around in a bright pink jeep…..there are plenty of those here too!