Day 29- Sedona, AZ
Today started out very smooth. Everyone woke up ready to explore. Well, at least Maggie & I did. August has always had the demeanor of a teenager in the morning. I remember when he was three years old getting woken up for preschool. “Just fifteen more minutes, dad,” he would whine while pulling the covers over his head. This is par for the course and generally only lasts a few minutes before he begrudgingly rolls out of his bunk.
We opted to pick up breakfast burritos and bagels as well as a couple iced americanos rather than to cook at camp, and we were on our way to Sedona. I had been here once before with my family when I was sixteen. I remember loving Sedona, and if I loved anything at the age of sixteen, it must’ve been wonderful. So I was excited to see again what I held so dear in my heart from twenty four years ago.
We stopped in town first because Maggie wanted a hat to keep the sun off of her face while we hiked. So naturally, $80 later, with an Indian textile jumpsuit and hat in hand, we made our way off the main road to search for our first hike. The GPS led us directly to the spot where the trailhead began. There was a bit of confusion as our desired hike, The Birthing Cave, was an unmarked off chute from the main trail, and it wasn’t marked on the trailhead map. We consulted our GPS again, which told us we were in the right spot, and off we went.
We passed a lone hiker returning from her hike, and we questioned about our destination. She confirmed we were en route and gave us a couple landmarks to follow as the trail was indeed not marked with any signage. We approached the man made line of dead wood and the barb wired fence she spoke of, and we headed off the main trail towards the red rock bluff. At this point, we had only seen two other hikers. Perfect.
With each turn of the trail, we got closer and closer to the bluff, and when we finally reached a clearing, the view of the red rocks touching the blue sky was awe inspiring. We snapped a family selfie and continued on. We shortened our distance with every stride and before long, we heard voices. The voices were very clear and loud. Two male and two female voices projected, and we thought they were from hikers coming back down the trail. When we never saw anybody, we realized that the voices we being thrown from the cave above that was acting as an echo chamber.
The last leg of the hike was steep and rocky. Loose sand and rock made some of our steps turn to slips, but we prevailed to the base of the Birthing Cave. I was the first one up and surveyed the scene. There were two young couples sitting on either side of the cave, one from Miami and one from Scottsdale. I surmised that the voices we heard earlier were theirs, and I extended pleasantries.
The cave was large and there was plenty enough room for all of us to distantly enjoy it’s shade that gave us a reprieve from 100 degree temperature. We all shared stories and laughed about dumb stuff we’ve done while hiking, which foreshadowed our return hike. But first, we just sat and enjoyed the cave.
For almost an hour, August climbed around the very rounded inner walls of the cave pretending to be a professional free solo climber. I love his passion for exploration. He’s grown into a great hiking companion.
We eventually decided that it was time for us to return back down the trail which is Doussan code for “get lost.” We made a couple wrong turns and quickly realized we weren’t on the same trail. I kept trying to follow our new trail back closer to the bluff where the original trail was, but I kept hitting dead ends. The thought of getting lost out here is scary. Water will definitely run out and there is no cell service. I then decided to backtrack, following our footprints in the loose red sand to the fork in the road where I made the first wrong turn. Seeing the right path in front of us, it was hard to imagine how we made the mistake. We are clearly still learning.
We returned to town after the hike for a quick lunch at the Cowboy Club, a restaurant that I remembered from my childhood time spent here. It was smaller than I remembered, but the menu seemed to be the same. We ordered rattlesnake bites, cactus fries, and a bison burger that we all shared. I had a couple of post hike local brews from the tap, and we planned our afternoon hike. The food was delicious and just the right amount.
We wanted to get some water in our life as the heat is very real during the day here. We decided on the Midgley Bridge Trail which starts, you guessed it, at the top of the Midgley Bridge. At first, we were concerned at the number of people on the trail, but we quickly ducked of off the main trail and headed straight for sound of rushing water. Our efforts proved fruitful, and after a short downhill hike, we were set up on the banks of the Oak Creek for a little swim time.
August and I had stripped down to our birthday suits in the parking lot to change into our swimsuits and we were ready to get wet. I found a nice sitting rock about chest deep where I sat and enjoyed the little fish nibbles. August joined me and we tried to catch the fish with our bare hands. We laughed at our inability to do so, but in the clear creek water, we did see a massive Arizona crawfish in its natural habitat! It’s so wild that we’ve now seen crawfish naturally existing in both Colorado and Arizona and had a full on crawfish boil with crawfish from Oregon! I had no idea.
We hiked on a little further after our swim time until we found another great spot where August returned to the water while Maggie and I basked on a large, flat boulder. This proved to a beautiful and shady hike, which was exactly what we needed after the blistering hike to the cave. We made our way back to town for post hike ice cream and headed back to camp.
On a tip from a friend who grew up nearby in Cottonwood, we picked up some great Mexican food from La Hacienda to take back to camp for dinner. Damn. That shit was delicious. Thanks, David. Dead tired and full, we are all now horizontal in the camper preparing to recharge for our drive to Placitas tomorrow.
Be good to yourselves and each other.