Friday, September 16, 2016

Aerie, Doe Mountain, Fay Canyon

Weather:  76º, sunny

About this Hike:  I couldn't wait to check out the Aerie trail.  It sounded wonderful in descriptions.  In reality, it's a lot of flat typical Sedona scenery.  I hiked Aerie to where it joins Doe Mountain and hiked up Doe Mountain.  This was the best part of the hike.  But, Doe Mountain does have it's own parking area.

So that said, getting up Doe Mountain isn't that hard, but it is a fun climb.  On top Doe Mountain is a big mesa.  The views are wonderful and it's very serene and peaceful.  You get a great perspective on Thunder Mountain as well as a "Baby Thunder Mountain" (I really need to find a good topography map) behind it.  You can see into the Brins Mesa and Soilder's Pass area.

Back at the Aerie trailhead, I started down Cockscomb but quickly became bored.  I know about three years ago I did a lot of these trails along the Dry Creek area.  I checked out Boynton Canyon, but with limited time didn't think the $5.00 required parking pass was worth it.  Next time.

I ended up at Fay Canyon, which I did three years ago.  That time I reached the Fay Canyon Arch.  Not feeling so adventurous, I just checked out the trail and left.

It's been a wonderful week of hiking in Sedona / N. AZ.  I'm sore and with shin splints, hence why I decided to cut things a little short today.  All the weeks I've spend in Sedona, and I never cease to find new hikes and things to do in this town.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Hell with the Bell

Weather:  85º, hot & sunny

About this Hike:  I’ll start by saying I’m done with Bell Rock.  A few years ago I blogged about “failing to ring the bell on top”.  Today I hiked along the Bell Rock Climb trail until the U.S. Forest Service cairns vanished.  I reached what I believe to be as high as sane humans can go.  It’s a spire on the north side of the butte.  Getting up there is tricky, but the dry sandstone offers good traction.

Some European tourists hiked ahead of me and were seated atop the spire.  I had no such luck. I got to the base of the spire but could go no further.  My fear of heights kicked in.  Getting down off that thing was very tricky and I felt panicky at times.  There’s not a well-definied trail, and it takes a lot of careful scrambling.  Meanwhile the cairns of the official (easier, safer) trail seem tauntingly close as you work your way down a layer cake of sandstone. 

So, with RV and bus parking abundant at the (fee) trailhead, I feel that Bell Rock is a tourist trap and not worth my time.  But, for all intents and purposes I reached the top, and I no longer believe there’s a bell up there to ring…

The spire I could've gone to the top of...close enough

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Soilder’s Pass & West Urban Trails

Weather:  82º, sunny (I got sunburned!)

About this Hike:  I explored Thunder Mountain Trail and Lizard’s Head today.  These comprise the “urban trail system” in West Sedona.  The trailheads are easily marked but are in residential areas.  Part of me was curious about reaching the summit of Thunder Mountain, but from what I read this is a treacherous hike and sounded like it could potentially ruin my vacation if something went wrong.

I also did the Sugarloaf Mountain summit which offered some nice views but not much else.  Underwhelmed, I went over to Soilder’s Pass Trailhead where I read there were Seven Sacred Pools. 

Soilder’s Pass ended up being the winner of the day.  Also part of the West Sedona area, it feels less urban as it ascends up the Brins Mesa and into the wilderness.  Along the way is  Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole, which as the name implies, is a massive sinkhole.  Next up are the Seven Pools.  Nothing like the Seven Sacred Pools on Maui, these are stagnant pools carved into the red rocks. A few had tadpoles swimming in them.

The hike continues on through forest and many dry washes as it makes its way up Brins Mesa.  Along the way you’re afforded great views of Coffee Pot Rock and the backside of Thunder Mountain, which from the back angle is much smaller looking.  Atop the mesa the topography quickly changes to grassland.  There are nice views of the wilderness, but not much else. 

Satisfied from a full day of hiking, I started back from there. Along the trail I met a friendly guy who works as a tour guide in Sedona. (He was off duty and just hiking for pleasure.)  We had a nice chat, and then I found my way back to the trailhead.  There’s a side trail that is signed as “1.2 Miles to Trailhead,” but I have no idea if that’s the  Soilder’s Pass Trailhead or possibly Teacup Trailhead.  I stuck to the beaten path, although the explorer in me wanted to see what was down this side trail.

All in all, West Sedona offers some nice views and varying trails all with great no-fee parking areas.

Seven Sacred Pools of Sedona

Devil's Kitchen Sinkhole