A much belated and overdue entry this. The internet connection where we were staying in the Sedona RV park was quite bad for most of the week we were there and I found a distinct distaste for sitting in Safeway’s Starbuck cafe to do my writing and uploading. I could have done the writing offline and uploaded later, but really I just didn’t feel like it. So now that I am back in San Francisco, I have no excuse to not write about the last part of the trip, and if fact, I want to.
Back in Sedona now, we continued to wait for fall color change in Oak Creek Canyon. It’s really been taking it’s time due to the unseasonably warm weather. It is getting closer now, but still a ways from peak. Since we were here anyway, we decided to explore the Sedona area more fully. We hiked the Devil’s trail again. It’s a shortish but wonderful trail that leads to a natural bridge. The weather was iffy, but worth taking a chance on a thunder storm. The road to the trailhead is quite rough. Not really 4-wheel drive material, but lots of large rocks, dropoffs and a bit of mud. The Rav was up to the task (much to Mary’s chagrin) and we made it easily. The trail climbs a short mesa and ends at the bridge.
As the trail begins to rise, it hugs the mesa side where some interesting juniper trees grow out from cracks in the sandstone. I’ve not seen bark like this before on junipers anywhere else and I stopped to photograph it. The sandstone striations created an interesting background. Further up the trail, the views begin to reveal themselves. The day was getting quite gray, but light was still peeking through from time to time. I shot a couple of nice images at one viewpoint. At the end of the trail, we had our lunch and watched the various visitors scamper around the bridge. Mary posed for me on top of the bridge. How brave! It began to sprinkle after we finished our lunch so we scampered back to the can and paved roads.
On the way back to camp, we took a short side trip up to Airport mesa. We heard the views were good here, and indeed they were. Unfortunately, most anywhere you look from here includes houses or buildings or roads of one sort or another. Nice views but the human presence really does spoil it for me. I did manage to frame a couple of shots without much evidence showing, but it’s not the same.
End o Trip Wrap-up – Day 2
We changed our plans a bit for day 2. Originally we had planned to check out Oak Creek Canyon, but upon waking in the morning to cold gray weather, we though better of going into the narrow canyon for another day. Instead we took a drive out to the V Bar V Ranch – now a Heritage Site. It contains over 1,300 petroglyphs thought to have be created by the Sinagua indians sometime between 1150 and 1400 AD. These are always interesting places to visit for me. The light was quite dim with the overcast skies, but with the tripod in hand, I still manages some interesting images. What makes these a bit more interesting than some other sites, is the depiction of herons, cranes, turtles, bear paws and most striking, a spiral the is pierced by a sunbeam on the spring equinox. We witnessed this occurrence on our last visit back in 2009. No sun this year, but still an interesting spot. The rest of the day was too rainy to photograph so we went back to Sedona to wait it out.
End of Trip Wrap-up – Day 3
Saturday. It’s a bit strange, now that I am retired, how the perception of a typical week has changed. Before, I would practically live for the weekend – hardly being able to wait till the drudgery of the work week ended. These days I almost dread the weekend – especially in places where solitude is valued. Sedona is literally the center of a vast recreational area. Hiking trails are everywhere – and so are people, especially on weekends. Trying to find solitude in nature in a place like this on a weekend is very nearly impossible, and for a curmudgeon like myself, it really spoils an experience. We decided not to try any hikes until Monday, when we will at last go up to Oak Creek Canyon for a couple of days. Instead we hung around the town. This weekend Sedona is having a plain air art fair and we walked around town looking at the various artists who had set up their easels and were painting. We also stopped at a crafts fair and found a guy selling handmade bird houses. They were very creative and we bought two for a couple of friends back home. After lunch, we decided we had to have one for ourselves so we returned to his booth and bought another.
Later in the afternoon we decided to visit another favorite spot, Crescent Moon Park. Here there are spectacular sunset views of Cathedral Rock – one of the many prominent sandstone formations in the area. Of course the place was crawling with people. Most every spot I stopped to photograph had a constant stream of people walking through the frame or stopping to look. I can’t begrudge them doing this though. It’s a public place – a spectacular one at that. I’m here too doing the same thing. But a landscape image just isn’t the same with people hanging about. I did manage a few nice shots with no one present, but it wasn’t easy. In some cases, my long 30 second exposures allowed for people walking through a scene without showing up in the image.
End of Trip Wrap-up – Day 4
Even though it is Sunday, we decided to hike up Boynton Canyon. It is one of the most popular hikes in the area because of the supposed power vortex at it’s end. At 6 miles in length round trip, it’s very doable. I expected crowds of people, but once we got past about a mile, it really wasn’t too bad. A good mile and a half of it makes it way along the border of the Enchantment Resort – not real exciting, but pleasant walking none the less. One spot towards the end of the compound was arrayed with four crosses and a bench. No idea what it is used for.
Beyond there, the trail slowly rises as we walked past red rock walls, many of which held ancient indian ruins. We watched the terrain change from Manzanita to pines to maples and oaks. Eventually, the trail rises steeply to a sandstone shelf. This is where the trail seems to end and there were a large number of people hanging out. We knew from a previous visit that the trail does in fact continue beyond across the shelf and around a bend. It is not evident, but a close inspection reveals rock cairns which mark the way. It is a little scary as the the route takes you close to the edge at a very steep angle, but to those adventurous enough, wonderful views await. We stopped here for lunch and enjoyed the vista virtually alone.
On the walk back through the canyon, the sun had disappeared due to overcast skies and late afternoon shadows. It actually helped in photographing the oaks and maples by really cutting the contrast. We made a few stops along the way, then headed home.
End of Trip Wrap-up – Day 5-6-7
We had planned on moving up to the Cave Springs campground in Oak Creek Canyon, but the day dawned so gray and dreary, we decided to wait one more day in hope of the promised sunshine on Tuesday. Sunshine is an issue when we dry camp – that is camp where no power is available. The sun powers our solar panels on the roof of our motorhome and charges the batteries. With the electronics we travel with, computers, cameras, cell phones, having a source of power is essential. So we stayed hooked-up in Sedona. It actually was a really good idea anyway. Yesterday’s hike really tired us out. It was only six or so miles, but we were both whipped. We lazed about and hit a movie later in the day.
Tuesday was much better. The sun was shining and the day seemed perfect for our move to Cave Springs. We got to the campground early, got set-up and quickly drove to Call of the Canyon and the West fork Trail of Oak Creek Canyon for our hike. We got there at 10:30 and the lot was already full. The wait to get in looked to be about 2 hours. After cursing a bit, we just drove back up the highway about 300 yards, parked and walked back to the entrance. By doing this, we saved a few bucks in fees as well.
The canyon did not disappoint. It wasn’t so evident from the road, but fall had finally arrived in the canyon. At the start, much was still green, but the sandstone walls were of most interest. The creek shapes and smooths the surface of the rock and also mirrors it’s texture. Various oak and cottonwood trees grow close to the cliff offering nice color contrasts, and at this altitude, the maple were just beginning to turn.
There are at least 10 stream crossings varying from simple to difficult. Mary has always had problems with this. Something about a deadly fear of getting wet or hurting herself. But this year with the addition of trekking poles, she managed much better and it made for a much more enjoyable experience. This canyon is somewhat unique in it’s terrain. It seems lush with color, but has the red sandstone of deserts and the water adds another diminution. The combination creates wonderful instances of reflection, color and composition.
Further up the trail, the maples began turning gold, orange and red. The oak was already a nice golden brown and we simply exalted in the wonderful veils of fall color. This was a terrific end of our trip. All that was left was to motor on home. We took our time – never driving more than about 250 miles, and arrived home in time to watch the Giants win the World Series. This was one of the most enjoyable, trouble free trips we have taken since we started doing these 2 month long journeys 5 years ago. I really didn’t advance my current projects much, but it was a needed escape from an approach I started a few years ago. I really just wanted to get back to contemplative style shooting and enjoy the outdoors and nature to the fullest. The projects will wait till next time.
I do intend to continue blogging as new opportunities and events come up, so stay tuned!