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Great Hikes – Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona – March 1, 2018

4 Mar
Sunrise in Sedona

We love great hikes, actually we love walking and hiking in all types of weather. We like the exercise. We like to repeat hikes in our local area. It is always different. The same walk can be totally different each season, often different each month, and sometimes different each week. Hikes can be quite different before a rain, then after a big rain, or when it is cloudy vs. when there is a blue sky on a sunny day.

View from the town of Sedona

We had just finished our first 3 day REI guided hike. We stopped to visit family overnight near Phoenix and then drove up to Sedona for another two days of hiking, and exploring, with perhaps a bit of photography thrown in.

Photo of Sedona Sunset our first night in town

We had lunch in Sedona many years ago, on our way to the Grand Canyon, but you can’t really count a half hour lunch break as “seeing” Sedona. This time, we had two days and two nights and March 1st was our main hiking day.

“So what’s a great hike?” we asked our trip suggester in the front lobby of our hotel. “So what’s a great hike?” we had asked our REI Tour Guides a few days earlier. We were meeting up with two friends in the morning to hike, so they also had done an independent “So what’s a great hike” survey.

The consensus, “Get started pretty early…, before it gets hot and crowded, and take the trail up to Devil’s Bridge!”

We chose the longer and more strenuous Route 3 to connect with Route 2 and then connected to the main trail up to Devil’s Bridge pictured in the upper right corner of the map.

Our friends picked us up about 9:15 a.m. and we drove out to the Devil’s Bridge Hike Trailhead off State Road 152, just a bit west of Sedona.

View from the trailhead parking lot

We decided to take the Dry Creek to Chuck Wagon trail, the “more strenuous route” (not really we decided). Not after hiking for a few days in the Sonora Desert.

I loved the colors of these shrubs and the century plant.

Not strenuous, but it sure was beautiful.

We had a delightful walk through scrub and trees.

It was a lovely walk

The red rocks, red soil and spectacular views were at every turn and on all sides of the trail.

Then there were the lovely views of the distant buttes and rock towers and mountains of red mixed with interesting contrasting stripes and layers.

Getting an early start was great advice. One, we were able to get a parking space at the trailhead. Two, the sun was lower so the light was perfect for picture taking. Three, it was pleasant walking with our hiking layers on.

It started to get a bit steeper here.

I volunteered to take “sweep” position in our four person crew. Sweep to me meant I could pause, or stop and take a few photographs, while my three companions kept up a steady pace.

The three routes were well marked by stone cairns or signs.

I could also take action photos of my companions as they were hiking. Then I would speed walk or take a lite trail jog to catch up, thus maintaining a semblance of trail discipline by not falling too far behind and by not causing them undue worry.

I found this a perfectly agreeable arrangement. Great hikes also usually mean great photos.

The trail was just rugged enough. The vistas continued to be spectacular.

Eventually we came to the steeper climb. The last 1/3 of a mile we had to clamber up stone steps and rocks, level 3 or 4 hiking, not too bad, really, just enough to get our hearts pumping a bit harder.

The bridge was about fifteen feet across at its narrowest point above the arch.

The highlight of the trip finally yawned before us. We looked across a chasm, maybe 50 feet to see pairs of fellow hikers sitting or standing on “Devil’s Bridge”.

The bridge itself is a natural arch rising up over about 200 feet of nothing.

Devil’s Bridge

We traded off who in our group would go stand on the natural bridge and pose, my wife and our companions went first while I took their photo and then they returned the favor.

Some people were a bit worried when they walked out on this high rock arch. Even I was worried when I saw a young woman sit down on the edge and dangled her feet over all that empty space.

And they there was the crazy man who decided he would jog across the bridge and then leap a narrow gap from the bridge to another rock outcrop; all the while hoping his buddy caught his successful leap on the first take.

We decided it was time to head back down the mountain, this versus watching the crazy guy perhaps making a second or third death defying leap over the long, long, long drop to the bottom of the gorge.

The sun beams were very bright as they filtered through the trees

I enjoyed the walk down. The sun was high, almost over head, so the views were much more muted and sun-washed, but still spectacular.

But the morning views with the muted sunlight were even better.

On our hike back to our car I examined rocks, looked for fossils, and observed how the weather and the wind had carved the rocks and the soil.

View from our Thai Restaurant where we ate lunch.

It was hard to leave, it had been a great hike, but our stomachs were calling out for lunch and we knew, that just maybe, there would be time for another great hike in the afternoon. But that’s a different story.


Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian, a Hiker and a Photographer from Summoose Tales, +1.703.503.8834, summersbw@gmail.com

See Also:

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

Sedona Arizona Sunset

Uluru Adventure

Travel

Photos


Sedona Arizona Sunset

31 Dec Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona is a beautiful, thin place…

My wife Mary and I traveled to Sedona Arizona on Feb. 28, 2018 after our REI Hiking trip to Southern Arizona. We had driven through Sedona about 10 years prior, stopping for lunch on our way to the Grand Canyon with our children. We both looked forward too a few more days of hiking and exploring this uniquely beautiful place. By thin place, I mean it is one of a few places around the world where you feel a bit closer to the Creator, to Mother Nature, to Gaia. You remember that Earth was not made or shaped by man, but by much more powerful forces. I felt the same way when I climbed in a live volcano, in St. Vincent, when I did yoga on the rocks at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, and when we watched the sunrise at Uluru, Australia. The following are photos from our first afternoon and early evening in Sedona.

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

In Sedona the carved red cock formations surround you…

It is hard to know where to look…

We were advised to head up to the airport for the best view of the sunset

To the west we saw the sun setting slowly, I dimmed the sunlight to get this view…

But in other directions the landscape glowed…

I loved the view of Mesas in the distance…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

But closer in, beautifully carved features…

Seemed to be everywhere…

And the sun was lighting…

All of them…

As then sun continued to sink slowly…

But surely, into the far western hills…

While at the same time, amazingly, the full moon was rising over the hills to our east…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

We shifted over to the main viewing area…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

To join the throngs of gathered photographers…

We were amply rewarded…

By views of layer after layer…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Of back-lit…

Mountain ridges…

Going on and on…

Into…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Infinity…

How far could we see…

In the moments…

It didn’t seem to matter…

We were all trying…

Really hard…

Not to miss a moment…

Of Mother Nature’s…,

Of God’s show.

To the right, were beautiful features…

Front and center, the sun continued to sink…

The view…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

The sunset…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

Again, the view…

Again the sunset…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

The rock features were glowing…

The sun was nearing the far ridge line…

The colors, and the layers…

How many layers and ridges was I seeing?

The main show is getting close…

But which way should I look…

I glanced quickly to the right…

To snap a few shots…

I climbed up on a rock…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

To get a slightly better view over the crowd…

Again to the right…

Back towards the sunset…

I did a 180 degree turn to capture the moon-rise…

And then quickly around to catch the sun-setting…

Again the view…

The sun dipping…

I turned on my video recorder to capture the last moments of the sun setting…

Summose Tales - Sedona Arizona

And then it was gone…

But then, by changing settings on my camera…

I could capture the enormous after-glow…

That lit up the sky…

And much of the horizon…

Summoose Tales - Sedona Arizona

The happy crowd, the photographers, and the amazed spectators, started to turn away, while I just stared and enjoyed this miracle of nature, and counted my blessings… Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I reflected that tomorrow we would be hiking in these hills, but that is another story:)


Bruce Summers, is a Professional Personal Historian and Life Story Writer for Summoose Tales, Summersbw@gmail.com.  He is a former global board member of the Association of Personal Historian and served as director, regions and chapters.  He is a founding member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington Area.

See also

Counting more blessings and saying Thank You.

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

Uluru Adventure

Travel

Photos

Counting more blessings and saying Thank You.

30 Nov

Let’s go hiking for a week in February… My wife, as usual, had a great idea. Normally we would try a couple of day hikes in February, on the weekends, and if the weather was mild.

Blessing #1: We would be hiking in Southern Arizona, I had never been there, and it is quite a bit farther south than Northern Virginia.

Blessing #2: This was our first hiking Trip hosted by REI, so we would be hiking with a group, with trained guides.

Blessing #3: They would help us with transport of our luggage and would provide lodging and food… on the trail or otherwise.

Blessing #4: Another couple, two of our good friends, would also be taking the same hike with us:)

Blessing #5: One of my wife’s cousins lived just north of Phoenix and we could stay overnight with them on two separate nights; first between adventures, and then just before we flew home.

Blessing #6: We were going to be able to get in a couple of days of bonus hiking in Sedona, AZ.  We had driven there once, the landscape is spectacular, and we were looking forward to exploring the region around Sedona for a few days.

Mixed Blessing #1: we had to get up really, really early for our flight to Phoenix. But, we had gotten up early before, and it meant we would have more time to visit the old town in Scottsdale, AZ. We were overnighting there and meeting up with our REI Group the next day.

 

 

Mixed Blessing #2: Though the weather was temperate, we noticed large gobs of people all heading to some type of stadium. We asked a stranger on the street, where’s everyone going? It’s Opening Day of Spring Training for the Cactus League he said. We took a quick walk around Old Town to spot a potential restaurant for dinner, but then we were each bitten, or at least I was bitten, by the spontaneous bug. We saw a man standing along the street trying to sell a pair of “great” tickets to the Opening Day game. “It’s sold out,” he said, he may have mentioned that his wife was ill also.  It may have been a story, but we felt we could afford a pair of tickets and decided to head to the Park to watch a bit of Professional Baseball Spring Training.

Blessing #7: Even though it was not sold out, the crowd was large, for that size stadium, and in a great mood. We sat, down the first base line, a bit into right field. We had a great view.

Blessing #8: Yes they did have hot dogs, no it wasn’t Southwestern food, but it went down easy with a bit of mustard and sauerkraut along with a nice cold bottle of water.

Blessing #9: We saw a couple of home runs, some decent pitching, some decent hitting and fielding, and a few errors of course. It was a hoot.

Blessing #10: We had a yummy Southwestern dinner with our friends. We live in the same area, but we had not seen each other very recently to catch up on the news. It was a great shared evening.

 

Blessing #11: We hit the lottery with our tour guides.  One was rated the #1 or 2 guide in the whole system. The other would have been a #1 guide on any other trip.

Blessing #12: It had rained recently in Southern AZ and the Saguaro Cactus were magnificently tall, plump, and everywhere.

 

Blessing #13: You never know how a week-long hike in higher altitude, in a desert, and during winter will go. Will we be fit enough, we wondered.  How will we shake down with the rest of group. Despite a small miss-adventure crossing the 3rd of 12 streams; we both did great with the hiking as did our friends.  About half of our group stayed back at the 2/3rds point of the hike and then the rest of us, “the rabbits”, I reflected charged off at an enhanced pace to reach the destination waterfall.

 

Blessing #14: The hiking was a bit more challenging, but the view of the waterfall and the catchment pools, and the ducks swimming in the lower pool was magnificent.

Blessing #15: We stayed overnight in a downtown Tucson Hotel. We had a superb southwestern dinner, slept well, geared up, and had breakfast in an old western bar. We then headed out for another great day of hiking, then lunch and visited a great park filled with southwestern Flora Fauna.

 

Blessing #16: We learned a lot about Saguaro and other Cacti during the trip, we saw animals, scat, climbed mountain ridges, and saw spectacular views across wide vistas.

 

Blessing #17: We had another restful night. Then an early morning departure, a tour of a large, now defunct pit mine, a talk with a local Native American Guide, a nice long hike, and then lunch in the park at picnic tables.

  

Mixed Blessing #3: A highlight was our visit to the border fence between Arizona and Mexico. We were surprised to learn that the high fence disappears after going east for a mile or so.  The conditions are arid and dry, not forgiving. Twice during the next day and a half I spotted black painted jugs. These are usually filled with water for the hundreds of people who  attempt to cross this desert border each year.

 

Blessing # 18 and 19: We drove up a high ridge to take in an amazing view of setting sun looking across multiple mountain ridges and ranges. Then we ate a scrumptious picnic supper outside. A special opportunity was an open discussion with a Border Patrol Agent who answered our questions and discussed the challenges, for Border Patrol Agents, to both help people survive who crossed the border to escape bad conditions and sometime threats to their lives, while at the same time trying to discover, and thwart, bad actors who tried to smuggle drugs and even children to become slaves or worse across the border.  I had the pleasure of riding down the high ridge with him back to our lodging for the night. It was a blessing to talk with him and to learn more about the nuances of protecting our border that are experienced by individual agents.

 

Blessing #20: After one more great hike, and a picnic in the rough, we head back to Phoenix. We rented a car, fought through an hour of congested traffic, and then arrived at my cousin-in-law’s home. We had not met her husband. He was a gem. Even better, he was a rock hound, and around his home he had grapefruit and other citrus trees and…

Interim count: Needless to say we got to 20 Blessings and 3 Mixed Blessings and we had not even started our excursion to Sedona yet. We highly recommend a week of walking in the Winter and we are very thankful for our health and opportunities to walk, hike and explore.  We hope everyone has a great Holiday Season and that you take a few moments to count your blessings.

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian at Summoose Tales, summersbw@gmail.com

He served as a global board member and director, regions and chapters for the Association of Personal Historians Bruce is a founding member of the Life Story Professionals of Greater Washington Area

See Also

Counting blessings and saying Thank you.

Cactus League – then Cactus Hiking

5 Mar

   

We were just looking for a place to eat… we kept seeing all these people with “Giants” and “SF” hats?

We flew into Phoenix, took a taxi to overnight in Scottsdale, AZ, stowed our luggage for our 4 PM check-into our hotel, and then got directions to Historic Scottsdale, “it’s just half a mile by foot.” We listened intently, received a map with some marked in suggestions of possible places to eat lunch and dinner, and then we were on our way to starting our Arizona hiking adventure.

We would meet up with friends for dinner, so we needed to do some scouting of interesting places to eat. Scottsdale is known for its historic, western feel,  and its old town. On our way to historic Scottsdale, we noticed a baseball stadium. There were police, traffic control, and significant streams of people laser-focused on going/getting to the stadium, this at noon on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Then we started to notice that everyone was wearing Giants and SF hats and jerseys.  They seemed to be in a festive happy mood. So we asked a couple. “It’s the first game of Spring Training, (professional baseball), it’s the San Francisco Giants versus the Milwaukee Brewers (two teams in the Spring Training Cactus league).”

We walked a bit further and saw lots and lots of more fans streaming towards the stadium.  We asked another couple, what time is the game? “1 PM they shared, each with a huge grin.” So, this planted the seed; should we check out Spring Training? When else will we ever get the chance to see a Spring Training game?  We like baseball, but we are not likely to schedule a vacation around attending Spring Training, but why not take advantage of this opportunity. “And we can get a hot dog… for lunch and watch the game…”

Next, a man on the street had two good tickets he was offering to sell, “My wife could not go, it’s sold out, these are good seats.” He explained that the Giants always do Spring Training in Scottsdale, so they are the local (favorite) team. Others later shared, that they buy season tickets for the local minor league team, mostly so they can get tickets to watch the Giants during Spring Training. We thought about it, and we bought two tickets for the game.

We completed about a mile survey of Historic Scottsdale, took photos of the historic artifacts, of the gardens and sculptures, and of a few restaurants and their menus.  It looked like a nice place to explore.  We picked out two or three good options for dinner with our friends and then joined the throngs headed to the stadium.

Inside we got our hot dogs, mine was a tasty bratwurst with mustard and sauerkraut, and a bottle of water. We found our seats, lower level, just a bit past first base on the right field side.  There were perhaps 30 Giants fans to each Brewers fan and there was a buzz in the air… Spring Training… first game.

“Our” Giants took an  early 3-0 lead, the Brewers closed it up, so by the 7th inning it was 5-3 with “Our” Giants still in the lead. We had seen two home runs, some decent baseball, some good, and some bad pitching, fun, but we were ready to go check into our rooms.

We had a nice Mexican dinner with our friends in Old Town.

We got a good night sleep a healthy breakfast, and then met up with our REI Hiking group and two guides.

We packed up our hiking gear and suitcases and headed south towards Tucson and our first of four days of hiking in Southern Arizona.

We arrived at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, checked our gear, filled up our water bottles, and saw a mountain lion head with pelt attached. “Yes there are mountain lions and bobcats in this hills, shared a docent.” Good to know I thought.

We had already seen many miles of Saguaro Cactus, hills, mountains, desert on our drive down. This should be interesting we thought. We would ride a tram 2 miles to the trail head then start our hike up to Seven Falls. We passed endless hills of Saguaro and other Cacti. In less than 24 hours we had visited a western old town, attended the opening day of Spring Training, eaten a great Mexican meal, packed up and prepared to hike up our first desert Canyon. What a great first day:)

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Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian, a  former Board Member of the Association of Personal Associations and Director for Regions and Chapters.  He is a member of the Life Story Professionals of the Greater Washington, DC Area and an avid hiker and photographer. Summersbw@gmail.com 

 

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