I’d been looking forward to Sedona and its red rocks, though I wasn’t sure what to expect of the place in general. There’s so much hype about its new age religious mysticism and energy centers…and I wondered if the place might be teeming with tourists (it kinda was). But I do love exploring a new town. It reminds me of when I first moved to Portland and everything was new and waiting to be discovered.
It’s almost unbelievable how beautiful the views are in every direction from anywhere and everywhere you go in Sedona. I felt overwhelmed with trying to capture pictures of the landscape and ultimately kind of gave up on trying to get a single shot to encompass it all – or enough shots to splice together for a grander view of it.
My first day in town, I did a driving tour, beginning at the visitor center (I love visitor centers!) and hitting the local hot spots, including viewpoints and the renowned Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Catholic church built into the red rock. Just like I did at the Old Santa Barbara Mission, I felt a sense of peace just sitting in that space…and then I went outside and nearly told a woman about herself for being aggressive and demanding and ungrateful as I graciously took pictures of her and her friend… Ugh. So much for my zen moments.
I did just a bit of hiking that first day then headed to camp early to catch the sunset from my camp chair. It was a hot night in my tent without much of a breeze. It wasn’t 116°, like back in Phoenix, but it certainly wasn’t a pleasant night for sleeping outdoors…!
I woke early the next day to what sounded like a fire-breathing dragon outside my tent, which rather surprised me because I’d only read warnings about rattlesnakes… Turns out there was a hot air balloon flying just above my site! You can understand, perhaps, how that might have sounded like a dragon. Anyway, it got me up and going at sunrise and off early to hit the “quintessential” Sedona hike – the West Fork Trail. Lucky for me, not a quarter mile into the route, I met Carlos from West Texas, and we hiked together the rest of the way.
The trail was nothing extraordinary…until we neared the “end,” when the red rock cliffs “closed in” on either side of us, with the creek filling in between and getting progressively deeper the further along we went. Carlos and I hiked and hiked, almost to the point of needing to swim in deep waters to continue. Wading in the cool water with the hot air and red rock all around us, outlasting most of the other hikers on the trail…it was truly incredible – and, yet again, something I wouldn’t have ventured solo. I slipped and fell just once on a mossy rock, and I’m certain Carlos was more upset about it than me. It’s funny with company how even spills are easier to take.
We took two more hikes together – one to the top of a mesa for sunset and another the next morning, our last in town, as our farewell to Sedona (for now). We’ll probably never see each other again, and we may never even talk, but having a companion certainly made my time in town that much more enjoyable. And that hike…it was unforgettable!