On the way to Humphrey’s Peak

I had been slightly dreading this hike. Don’t get me wrong, I love hiking. Once I’m out there I love almost every step. It’s getting from the chair to the trail: I’m not in shape, I don’t have the time, what if it’s raining… a million excuses. But there is nothing harder than getting out of the car when you don’t feel like you have the energy.

This trip started very early in the morning for me, or was it the previous night that ended so late?  I landed in Phoenix at 10:30 am and met up with Miss K for our 2 plus hour drive to Flagstaff. I had heard some good things about Chelsea’s Kitchen in Phoenix, so we stopped for a light lunch there before hitting the road. The white sangria is ridiculously good. And we were off to our intermediate destination: Sedona.

It is a very easy drive out to Sedona. Once we pass the sea of tile roofs that define the greater Phoenix area, we start to notice the thousands of Saguaro cactus standing guard over the highway and beyond. We pass the exit for Bumble Bee and drive over the Big Bug River. I lived in Phoenix for 5 years back in the late 90’s, and that is the Sedona I remember. Even though I have been back several times, the growth of the modern strip mall along the 179 highway is astonishing. We are both tired, but tradition is that we get at least one hike in Sedona prior to heading to Flagstaff. We stop at the visitor center to get a current map and make sure that we are properly permitted, then head out for an EASY stroll in Fay Canyon.

Wall of the Canyon taken on the way in

Wall of the Canyon

Neither one of us want to walk. We are making excuses. We are looking at our watches, looking at restaurants, looking for something else to distract us. We have both been sitting (on a plane, in a car, at a restaurant) for 6 or more hours by the time we are at the trail head.  Fay Canyon is a 2 mile round trip, no hills stroll. The only difficulty would be crossing the stream, if there was water. However, the views of the red canyon walls make this a particularly nice way to stretch our legs after flying and driving all day. Again, once I am actually out there moving, I am happy.

Tip alert: Don’t forget the bug spray. It’s so hard to remember everything.  My pack is filled with with rain gear, emergency gear, extra clothing, flashlight, water; way too much for a 2 mile stroll. My strategy is to get the feel of the heaviness on my shoulders for tomorrow.

From the end of the trail

At the end of the trail, there looks like a rock slide fell into the creek.  We scramble up the rocks and are rewarded with a nice view of the valley behind us.  And now we are both glad that we got our of the car and started to walk.  Even after a mile we both feel better and, of course, now we wish we had done the 5 mile hike.

For those of you who want to introduce hiking in Sedona to your non hiking friends, this is a great little trail.  It is scenic, cool with abundant shade, fairly flat, and short.  The scramble up the rock slide at the end is optional.  You can see one window formation and one big cave – however dependent on the time you go, the lighting can be difficult for photography.  It also is a fairly close drive from town (about 7+ miles from the Y) and parking in the lot across the street is free, so you don’t actually need a permit (at the time of this writing, Sept 2014).  There are several great websites with detail on many Sedona hikes.  We narrowed down our choices using a few of the sites.

Looking down from the scramble up the rocks

Looking down from the scramble up the rocks

After the hike, we stopped at the Natural Foods grocery store where we found Pistachio Honey Energy Bites and Spelt Wraps for tomorrow’s hike.  The drive into Flagstaff is pretty; as we wind through the forests north of Sedona I think that next time, If there is a next time, we should try a hike in the woods and then hit Slide Rock State Park.  For now, we are tired and hungry.  Dinner and early to bed for us both!

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