Sunday, April 29, 2012

Family Visit - Round 2

Our next set of visitors was the 3 former Boussy Girls, Ann Frazier, Terry Hathaway and Carol Pistorino. Terry was the first to arrive, overlapping with the Murdochs who stopped in Sedona at the end of their great trip. Ann came in on Monday and Carol, fresh from her trip to the orient, arrived on Wednesday.

As their time in Sedona was short, they didn't plan on any side trips, just lots of relaxing, hiking, eating and the occasional adult beverage. They were great company doing most of the cooking and cleaning while they were here. Judy was in heaven.

Our first hike with Terry was to Wilson Canyon. This is a great, first day hike. It is a little over 3 miles, R/T, and has a nice rolling, shady trail. The trail begins at the Midgely Bridge. At the end, there is a path way to the top of a hill that gives great views of Munds Mountain. This was a perfect way to start the week.

Once Ann arrived, the 4 of us took the Marg's Draw trail for Ann's warm-up. Here are Ann and Terry at the turn around point on the trail. This is about a 3 mile R/T if you take a couple of the spurs, which we did.

The next morning, we hiked the Little Horse to Broken Arrow trails, so we dropped the Jeep at one end at the Broken Arrow trail head and took Terry's car to the other end at the Little Horse trail. From Little Horse, we hiked up to Chicken Point and then down Broken Arrow to the parking lot. This is a great way to hike these trails. The 360 degree of views of Red Rocks on the Broken Arrow trail can't be beat.

Here's Cathedral Rock viewed from the Little Horse Trail.

Two sisters below the Two Sisters....

Resting before climbing Chicken Point.

Panoramic view from the Broken Arrow Trail

Before leaving Broken Arrow to pick up Terry's car at the Little Horse trail head, we took a quick Jeep ride. Here we are coming down one of the slick rock areas at the beginning of the trail.

After Carol arrived, we took the Soldier's Pass trail on Thursday morning. This has some natural sites like the Devil's Kitchen and 7 Pools as well as a nice rolling shady trail. I always enjoy this trail.

Here they are posing near the Devil's Kitchen

At the Juniper growing out of the crack in the rocks at the 7 Pools...

And somewhere along the trail. Great spot for photos.

We wanted to have a picnic after the Soldier's Pass hike but it didn't come off quite as planned. We ended up eating our New York Deli sandwiches at the house and then took a Jeep ride down towards the old Homestead. At one particularly "dangerous" part of the trail, Ann and Terry decided to walk around the "ledge" and meet us at the bottom. They walked up on the way back too. Carol and Judy threw caution to the wind and stuck it out with me. Here's what they were missing...but, the photos don't do it justice

And from the back...

The last hike was on the Mund's Wagon Trail. We started at the Schnebly Hill parking lot. It's hard to imagine that someone might have run a wagon on this trail but it was fun to hike on. There was a little bit of water in the washes...

Time for a photo op...

A little relaxing on the trail...

And, of course, great scenery...

This trail wends its way along the dirt Jeep road so there are plenty of spots along the way to bail out and walk the Jeep road back to the parking lot. At about 1.5 miles, Judy, Ann and Carol decided to walk back while Terry and I went about another mile to the Cow Pie area before turning around. Terry kept commenting on how much she was enjoying the hiking and would love to spend more time in Sedona. Last year Kaleigh, Mia and I hiked this part of the trail during their visit. Judy had dropped us off at the top end of the trail and Kaleigh, Mia and I hiked the 4 miles back to the parking lot.

How can these trees grow out of a little crack in the rock?

Our meals were great too. Terry made Curt's famous tomato sauce one night (both mild and hot versions). Ann turned that into a casserole on another night. We all went to Harry's Hide-Away in Cornville for dinner one night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus burgers on the patio with Terry handling the grilling.

On the last day, the girls took Judy to lunch at L'Auberge, a beautiful creek side resort. It was a terrific way to end the mini-vacation.

We had a great week of hiking, reading, jeeping, eating, imbibing and relaxing (with the occasional conference call). We all enjoyed it and the girls are all looking forward to the next adventure.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family Visits

Over the past few weeks we've had a few rounds of visitors here in Sedona. First, our niece, Jackie, and her friend, Jose, stopped by for a few days on their way on an action packed tour of the area. Jackie is a nurse at Brigham and Womens' Hospital and Jose is a doctor there. When their schedules lined up they headed west.

They arrived on a Thursday night in a bright blue Mustang convertible. Judy had prepared Chicken Marbella which was delicious. We just relaxed over dinner then sat on the patio and took in the dark western sky.

The next day we brought them on a hike through Soldier's Pass up to the Brins Mesa trail and then down to the Vultee Arch road. Judy met us there in the Jeep. On the way back for lunch, we dropped Jackie and Jose at the trailhead for the Devil's Bridge which they thoroughly enjoyed.

After lunch at Nick's, we drove out to the Honanki ruins. Everyone has to see some of the ruins of cliff dwellers when here in Sedona.

From there, we took the back road through Loy Canyon and back to town. All this followed by cocktails on the patio and a nice fire in the fire pit.

The next day, Jackie and Jose wanted something a bit more substantial for a hike. So, I suggested they tackle the Huckaby Trail from the Midgely Bridge to Schnebly Hill, then hike to the top of the Munds Wagon Trail and back. Here is Jose helping Jackie across Oak Creek at the beginning of the Huckaby

It was a long hike and they pooped out around the trailhead for the "cow pies" where I picked them up. We drove up Schnebly Hill for some of the views and then came back to our place. They showered and went to Tlaquapaque where we met them for a late lunch at El Rincon.

They next day, they played golf at the Sedona Golf Resort and had a great time. After that, they came back to our place where we watched The Masters and they "finally" left on their 3 hour trip to head for the Slot Canyons of Page and then the Grand Canyon. Jackie will have to provide photos of that part of the trip.

After the Canyon, they drove back to Phoenix for a few days at the Wigwam Resort. We decided to take in a few cultural events in Phoenix, so we drove down and met them for lunch at the Heard Museum.

Don't they look like a nice couple? We had a very nice time with them and look forward to getting together at home.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Many Faces of the Thumb

The view we get from our living room window is of the rock formation called The Thumb. From our perspective, it looks like a thumb. From other angles, it may blend in with other formations surrounding it. But, here is a sequence of a number of transformations the Thumb may go through over time.

Typical view with a little stormy weather on the way

A typical sunset.

How about a little snow on The Thumb

Here is a sunset with the full moon rising....

Then the clouds on the horizon opened up and we got a glorious sunset...

Finally, on a day when storms rode through all day, we caught this sight at the end of the day.

You just never know what you are going to get for spectacular scenery from one moment to the next here in Sedona.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Comb Wash and Moki Dugway

Off of route 163 between Bluff and Mexican Hat is San Juan County Road 235, the Comb Wash Trail. This easy trail runs on the west side of Comb Ridge between rtes 163 and 95. Comb Ridge is a "monocline" that runs almost 80 miles from Elk Ridge in the north down to Kayenta, Arizona in the south. A monocline is a "bending of the earth's crust" in one direction only. From the east side, the ridge looks like a series of individual slanted hills. But, from the other side, one can see that the ridge was pushed up because sheer cliffs are on the other side of the slanted hills. This wash drains water from the north and from the Cedar Mesa on the west.

We drove about a mile or so then took CR237 (called Snow Flat Road), over Cedar Mesa. Snow Flat Road was part of the old Mormon Pioneer Trail that led to San Juan. This road, about 20 miles long, had terrific vistas in all directions as you got towards the top of the mesa. Near the very top, the road got a little more challenging but nothing the Jeep couldn't handle. Here we are passing over a sketchy section near the top.

Once on top of Cedar Mesa, we had clear sailing, only seeing a few vehicles coming in from the other side, until we reached route 261. Taking 261 south, we were heading for the Valley of the Gods which we had visited before with the Nobles. As soon as we saw signs pointing to John's Canyon, I knew we must be getting close. But I wasn't quite prepared for what was ahead. We could see Monument Valley way off to the south but couldn't see anything of the Valley of the Gods which should have been just to our left. That was because we were on top of a large plateau and the rock formations were in the "valley" below.

When we saw the signs warning trucks of a steep descent

and then the paved road turned into a gravel set of switch backs that dropped us from the plateau to the valley floor.

This was the Moki Dugway.

Here are a series of swichbacks that drop you 1100 feet.

The road was built in 1958 to transport uranium ore to a processing plant in Mexican Hat. It really was amazing to be driving along on a seemingly flat road and suddenly hitting this steep drop. But, it is very typical of the landscape in this area. There might be steep cliffs on one side of the road and a very deep canyon on the other. The way the land has been created, layer by layer, over millions of years and then patiently eroded over more millions of years is astonishing.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Natural Bridges National Monument

A little further west on rte 95, about an hour from Blanding, Utah is the Natural Bridges National Monument park. There is a very nice visitor center at the entrance to the park. We talked to the Ranger to ask about taking some of the back roads over the mesas to get to the southern end of Canyonlands. He said there was a lot of slippery mud and snow still on the high areas and had recently slid off the road in his own Jeep. He was stopped by a tree and some rocks from going over the edge. We decided to heed his advice and stay off the high road.

There is a short video at the Ranger Station that explains the origin of the Natural Bridges. Unlike others that were formed more by wind and water, these bridges were formed mainly by rivers cutting new paths through the area. The bridges were of different ages as can be determined by the thickness of the bridge and the size of the opening. The thicker the bridge, the younger/newer the bridge. There is a 9 mile loop that takes one to scenic overlooks of the bridges, like this one called Sipapu, which is the name for the hole in the earth from which the Hopi's ancestors emerged.

There are a number of trails that lead to the base of the bridges. One can hike up and down at one bridge or hike connecting trails to cover all the bridges. We hiked down to view Owachomo Bridge. Here is a photo of Judy and Sarah making their way to the base of Owachomo Bridge.

At the base, Bill and I made our way to a small pool to try to get a reflection of the bridge in the water. There wasn't much water and it was a little slippery getting down the slick rock to the edge of the water to try to get this photo.

This was a very nice little park. One could take in the beautiful sites from the overlooks or take the more adventurous hikes from one to another. It was on my list of places to get to in Southern Utah and it was well worth the detour.

Because we decided not to cross the "Bear's Ears" to get to Canyonlands, we took the northern end of Butler's Wash along the Comb Ridge back to Bluff for the night. Cocktails on the porch and dinner at the Cottonwood Steak House to end the day.