Wow, it's Tuesday already.
S. got up at 6 this morning to go fro a run. I had woke up a couple of times during the night so decided to get up myself. I took a couple of minutes to rub the sleep from my eyes and then showered and got dressed and packed. S. returned when I was done and while he cleaned up I typed yesterdays events into my livejournal blog to share with my friends.
We locked up the room and walked over to Wildflower Bread (which is much like an upscale Panera Bread Co.) for breakfast. I got a mixed fruit salad on top of wild greens with a little yogurt and granola on top along with a tall cup of black coffee. We ate outside on a deck where we could see the all pervasive ochre cliffs and rock formations in the early morning light. We took our time eating and just soaked up the morning.
Down the road we parked at a trailhead so we could hike up to the saddle on Cathedral Rock. Even though it was only 3/4 mile to the top, it was a good workout as the path was rocky and very steep in places. There were quite a few people on the trail even though it was just a bit past 8am. Because of the early hour I didn't bring my new hat and wished I had as it was around 100 degrees which, coupled with the exertion, made us real hot. S. had a little pain in his knees but that was expected and we had brought aspirin. The scenery was fantastic all the way up and the view from the top didn't disappoint. Up on some nearby hills facing the Cathedral are a number of amzaing homes. Wow, what a view they have. The hike back down was quicker and easier of course, and just as beautiful.
Back in the car we stopped at a grocery store for water, ice, gatorade, and a few snacks. S. got a little togo tray of sushi. I decided to lunch on what we had in our cooler. After we packed it all away we drove to the other end (north) of Sedona to hike the "Devil's Bridge". To get to the trail head we had to drive about 1 1/2 miles over a really rough and rocky road. Really rough. In my 2004 Toyota Corolla. Wow. We were worried we might roll a tire off a rim or get a flat...way out there next to nothing. S. was driving and he did a great job keeping the car alive. We got a litle worried as there were no interim signs and began to wonder if we were on the right road/cart path. As it was, fortuned favored us fools and we made it to the trail head intact.
The hike to Devil's Bridge was a mile each way and for the most part it was far easier than the Cathedral trail. Regardless, trails like these of 1 mile or so, even when quite steep, aren't really terribly strenuous. The location was more remote and thus the views were unspoiled. Also, the trail was a bit less defined as fewer sets of feet traveled it. Eventually, we found ourselves pausing in the shade offered by the cliff and we looked around for the next leg of the trail. We were kind of confused until S. looked up - we were under the natural arch we had come to see! We got quite a laugh from that. The next part of thte trail wasn't obvious and so we tried scaling up a narrow ravine on the back side of the arch. It was so steep it could have doubled as a ladder. We got very high up and then were stymied about 20' from the summit. We (correctly) surmised that this was not the way, so we gingerly picked our way back down.
Once back on the ground, we looked around more carefully and found the trail. It wound further on and then ascended where we could walk across the arch. It was much higher than it looked from the ground.
Oh, I also remembered to use my new hat. I like it. Even though the 2nd hike was later in the day and the temperature was higher I actually felt cooler than on the Cathedral trail. Also, we filled up our day hike packs - as they have water bladders in them with a long hoses/straw that you can easily sip through. Ok, I'm convinced. I had thought them silly, but they're great. Since I hadn't been convinced, I bought a cheap one at Wal-Mart and it doesn't hold as much water as the one S. has (mine holds 2 liters, his holds 3.) Fortunately, I was prepared for needing more water storage (predominantly in the Grand Canyon) and thought to pack my collapsible water bladder for dry hikes.
The trip back down the treacherous road was full of surprises - apparently, things look different when coming from the other direction. Doing something once way doesn't always prepare you for doing it another.
Once back on blacktop we took 89A north out of Sedona. Wow, what a completely gorgeous drive. S. ate his sushi and I foraged in the cooler and ate some BBQ baked beans, an apple, and baby carrots. Later, we snacked on string cheese.
We made good time to Flagstaff and S. proposeda detour since we were ahead of schedule. We turned east about 40-45 miles on highway 40 and visited Meteor Crater. This attraction is quite literally a hole in the ground - allbeit a huge hole in the ground. The admission is $15 for adults which is a bit high, but the visitor's center is pretty nice.
On the way out I asked a ticket taker how many visitors they get. She said in the summer it was about 1,000 per day. Wow, in 4 months that is about $1.8 million. What a 'cash cow'.
We headed back to Flagstaff and the GPS indicated there were 3 or 4 camping stores there so we stopped and S. finally found a camping hat. That is a great town. Flagstaff also averages 100 inches of snow eachyear - so well, that's maybe not so attractive to me.
The drive north of Flagstafff climbed to a really high elevation - especially when we got to the Kaibab National Forest which is nearly above the tree line. Somewhere just south of Tusayan is an airfield (not the official Grand Canyon air field which is north of Tusayan) that has a restored Constellation or "Connie" airplane. It was easily recongnized by its triple tailfin.
Once we reached Tusayan we found several motels ranging from very good to very nice. They were all booked up because of impending rain. The clerk at the desk of the Red Feather Hotel said that there were no vacancies due to the weather and people not wanting to camp. I asked what the rates were and they were (predictably) very high.
We were worried about the weather and the possibility of it spoiling our hike tomorrow. We were hungry so we ducked into "We Cook Pizza And Pasta" for a quick dinner. I had a beer brewed in Scottsdale called, "Kilt Lifter". It was quite good. We had difficulty enjoying our pizza as the rumors about the weather were furthered by the guy who took our order.
Finishing quickly, we sped the last few miles and paid our way into the park. The lodges cost $146 for a cheaper room so we elected to camp. The ranger who took our money and assigned our campground said tomorrow's weather would be cool and lovely.
It seems we worried about nothing.
Talking to the ranger, he seemed doubtful we'd be able to hike down to the river and back in 1 day - though he did say, "Well, some people do it." He was very good natured and positive.
We set up the tent quickly and then hopped into the car to head to the rim and watch the sunset. Wow, it was truly magnificent. We climbed down to a finger of rock that stuck out and our view was phenomenal. Having never seen the canyon, we just didn't understand te enormity of the thing. We realized that we wouldn't be able to hike down to the river and back out in one day; there was no way. Somehow, this realization didn't upset uss and we just shrugged and resolved in finding out what other more reasonable hikes would be available to us.
Well that's it for today. It's time to brush my teeth and call it a a night.