Arizona 2012

Wednesday the 22nd, 2012

The Visit to Red Rocks (not Mars)

Time to explore the beauty of Sedona and after our usual delicious morning breakfast next door at the Red Rock Diner we were off. A quick 5 minute drive up the street and we are at the trailhead for Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. The path leading up to the split gives a good idea of the relative size of these formations. The girls, as can be seen on the picture, are dwarfed by Bell Rock and we still had a little ways to go to the base..

At the split, The trail loops around both mountains, I went right and the girls went left. The whole loop is about 4.6 (thank you Google Earth) miles long (info on mileage, trails, and peaks seems to be very lacking for Arizona unlike the NH mountains were there is mounds of info).

The trails out here are flat and smooth a very welcome change from the bouldery paths of NE. A short distance from the split and I reach a path the takes off to the left splitting between Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte skirting the base of Courthouse Butte. I follow it as far as I dare as it is not on the map I have and I can only assume that it cuts right through to the other side. Not wanting to miss the whole trail that goes around the butte I return to Courthouse Butte Loop and continue on.

The pathway is marked with the Arizona version of a rock cairn, a cylindrical pile of rocks wrapped with a steel cloth like mesh. Whereas our rock cairns are a pile of rocks, especially helpful in the winter season, they're pile of rocks are a marker for a vortex. They would probably get overly excited if they visited here and saw all our cairns.

Not much further up the trail crosses a dry river creek which must be an amazing sight during a flash rain storm. The trail crosses this bed and follows it for a short ways.

Shortly after crossing the dry bed and in the attempt to get some pictures I started following a trail that turned out to be the wrong trail. As I am walking along following this trail I notice it is taking me away from Courthouse Butte and think this is odd. The only thing that I got nervous about was if Nakita and Lisa came around that part of the loop and would not see me. I didn't want to them to start worrying on why they had not passed by me. It was time to find the trail and rather than turning around and backtracking I start heading towards Courthouse Butte through the scrub. It is .3 of a mile back to the trail and after 15-20 minutes I finally see a cairn and head towards it. The map shows what I did and where I veered off, the red is the trail I took, the green is where I should have gone and the black is the bushwhack portion. The picture is the spot where I started to go the wrong way being too absorbed with the canyon view.

While out there on the wrong trail I did get a great shot of the Rabbit Ears.

Very quickly I came upon another formation known as Spaceship Rock. Looking very cool and perfectly round as I continued on the trail I found a way up to the top from the backside of it.

After coming down from Spaceship Rock and back on the right trail I came around a corner and there were the girls standing in the shade. What a relief that was that I did not miss them through my little jaunt. I told them to be careful on there way around and to make sure they follow the cairns and not to head down the river bed. A lot more shots and one I didn't know about at the time where the Chapel of the Holy Cross is located in the picture on the bottom of the mountain on the left.

Coming around to the other side of Bell Rock, the north side, is where the trail takes off to climb part of Bell Rock. As tempting as it was I however did not go up. I did get a picture of some people who where just below the columns on the left.

A shot of Thunder Mt(Capitol Butte) off in the distance to the north is one of the more prominent peaks in Sedona. Rumor is it is the inspiration for Disney's Thunder Mountain, hence the name.

Back around to the split where we separated and I head back down to the path to the car and about 5 minutes later the girls show up. I was very impressed with Lisa making it all the way around in this heat and the distance and almost the in the same time as I had done it. Kudos to you, my dear.

Back to the motel room to chill out and cool down for a little while. I decided to reward Lisa with a treat for her accomplishment and looked for a Dairy Queen. Nothing in Sedona but there is one up on 89A heading north towards Flagstaff just below Slide Rock State Park. So off we go to find the place and sure enough in the middle of nowhere on this road is a Dairy Queen. Nothing like a soft serve especially on a hot day. On the way back we come upon Midgley Bridge and stopped for some more breathtaking views.

Back into Sedona and we had decided to rent some four wheelers to see the off road sites and features. We get to the rental place and it is closed as the guy has left for a little bit. While waiting for him to return Lisa suggests we do the Pink Jeep Tours instead. A couple more minutes and so sorry bud but you just lost a sale. Up the street to the Pink Jeeps and an hour later we are on our tour. While waiting I take a few shots of some oddball formations and find out a few minutes later from our guide what they are. The first one is Snoopy laying on his back on his doghouse and the second one is Lucy's head, both formations are right next to each other.

We hit the jackpot with our tour as no one else is booked with us and we have the whole jeep and tour guide to ourselves. It turns out to be great suggestion and a great time with a very knowledgeable and personable driver. Heading up into the hills behind Sedona on an old forest service road (these are all over the place in this area) and are introduced to all kinds of shapes and formations.

We head back down the hill and off to another section of town and after visiting Submarine Rock we do some real four wheeling. Heading up and around the red rocks at one point coming down a formation at a forty-five degree angle. Lisa was very nervous but very brave and faced her fears on this section of the trail. When we did the first one she yelled out Holy Shit! and I told the driver that on the next tour he could use that description for this part of the adventure. So if you ever take the Pink Jeep Tour in Sedona and take the Broken Rim portion and the driver says we are about to go over the Holy Shit! section you can thank Lisa for it. One more steep descent and it was time to head back to downtown Sedona.

A terrific end to a great day and time for some dinner and a good night's sleep before tackling more of Sedona tomorrow.