Red Rock Picture Post

The folks who live here like to claim that Sedona, AZ is the most beautiful place on earth.  And while the eastern Sierra has deeply claimed my heart, I would have to agree that this is a pretty stupendous location, and even the less dramatic spots are still very, very lovely.  JJ and I spent a week here last April, and liked it so much that we wanted to stay even longer. We found the same Forest Service Road free spot that we enjoyed last year, and settled in for week and a half of gorgeous hikes. The best part is, there’s so many, that even after 2 years of vacations here, we still have more than 80 hikes try out some day!

This visit was doubly fun, because our friends (and road parents) Buddy and Judy were vacationing in the area, too. Their condo had a hot tub and a pool, plus (get this!) running water out of a faucet, which poured out of the wall on command, and for as long as you like!  We’ve been off-the-grid camping for 5 weeks now, and living with 55 gallons of water that we need to stretch for at least a  week. The concept of a long shower was pure luxury.  We took two showers and probably smell as good as we can for this time of year!

My ankle is finally starting to feel and look normal, and I was ready to get outside and test it.  We started with a short but beautiful overlook, up to the top of a mesa called Doe Mountain.

Buddy and Judy are considering hiking the pilgrimage road in Spain, and wanted to try out some long hikes with their packs to see how they felt after a big mileage day.  I wasn’t quite up for 10 miles, but we started Woods Canyon Trail after them, and met them towards the end to cheer them on towards beer.

The loop of Soldiers’ Pass to Brins Mesa might qualify as my favorite hike *of all time*.
I know those are big words, and perhaps offensive to my beloved Little Lakes Valley, but check this out: this loop had amazing views from start to finish, multiple glorious overlooks, and very few other hikers, even though it started just at the edge of town.  The day was partially overcast, though, so some of the the pictures don’t really do it justice.

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte are wilderness areas that are just off the freeway. There were a million other people near the parking lot, but the place was blissfully empty a couple miles out.

We even fit in a hike early one morning before the rains started. Fay Canyon was short but sweet, with a scramble at the end to great overlooks of the Sedona valley.

For our last hike of the week, I was feeling good enough to go big. Bear Mountain isn’t very long, only 4.8 miles, but it’s the hardest hike in Sedona because it’s all up. You don’t so much hike it as do about 10,000 lunges to get to the top. Because of all the elevation change, it’s a geology lesson as you huff your way to the top, and we enjoyed the entertainment to keep our minds off our heaving lungs.

We had a fantastic week with good friends….it felt like a real vacation! Next up, we try to remember how to drive defensively, with reckless abandon, and return to California!

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