Sedona (Nov 2016)

Greetings Blog Fans!  This is our third Thanksgiving since returning from the UK and we continued the tradition of heading west and enjoying the outdoors for the full week.  This year we returned to Sedona where we also visited in 2014.  (Last year was Big Bend and Carlsbad Caverns).

Sedona is absolutely beautiful and a serious contender for a retirement landing spot depending on where the kids end up.  We’ve got a while to consider that.  For now, we are enjoying the research!

I’ll try not to babble on too much as the pictures do most of the talking.  As with last time, hiking was the focal point.  We had some repeats as well as some new hikes.  We also took a couple of days to visit a handful of National Monuments in the area.

Saturday (11/19)–National Monuments

We had an early (really early) flight that gave us most of the day for sites.  We decided to visit 3 Native American National Monuments on the way to Sedona:

Each involved a short, paved walk with info boards along with the main attraction.  Interesting factoid:  the Montezuma sites had nothing to do with the Aztec ruler; they were just misnamed by the explorers that “discovered” them.  All date back ~800 years.

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Montezuma’s Castle
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Montezuma’s Well (odd site in the desert for sure)
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a top the Tuzigoot settlement
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looking down at the various Tuzigoot rooms/settlements

 

Sunday (11/20)–Mescal/Long Canyon + Fay Canyon

Our first full day and one dedicated to hiking.  We didn’t want to jump to the biggest hike of the week straight away so we thought we’d do a semi-repeat 5 miler and a new 2 miles to work up to it.

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The map above is of the Sedona area (the “Y”) from my GPS map.  The pink trails are from 2014 and the light blue trails are from this year.  We had 4 days of hiking.  Sunday was obviously day one and we did the 1A and 1B hikes.  We had done the Mescal trail last time but this time we continued on to Deadman’s Pass and finished the loop with the Long Canyon trail.  (4.9 miles in 2:25).

The second hike was a short in/out hike into Fay Canyon (2.1 miles in 1:03).

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Obligatory photo at start of Mescal Trail
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kids are always out front as the parents are now too slow
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taking the low road–amazingly people actually bike this trail
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a rare cloudy day (the rain would come the following day)
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a repeat photo op from 2014

 

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2014 version
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heading into Fay Canyon
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typical view as we walk among the red rocks

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Monday (11/21)–Rainout

It rained most of the day (as predicted).  We puttered about some shops and then went to see Dr. Strange (the movie).  One rainy day isn’t too bad.   Besides, I doubled up on some hikes later in the week.  🙂

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Tuesday (11/22)–HiLine Loop around Cathedral Rock

Big day as we attempt our longest hike of the week and a new one at that.  This involves a big loop around Cathedral Rock (Trail #2 on my map above).  We started at Yavapai Point and worked our way to the HiLine Trail.  We continued on the Baldwin Trail, around to Templeton, and then back down Slim Shady to complete the loop.  We also took small spurs to Red Rock Crossing and partially up Cathedral Rock.

This was our favorite of the week and tops our Sedona list.  The views were spectacular and the early climb was greatly rewarded.

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10.1 miles in total in ~6 hours (4:38 moving).  Proud to say we were all in good spirits at the end too!  Looks like we’ve successfully pushed the comfort boundary.

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pre-hike shot — typical early morning (8 am) start
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early morning shadows as we start our ascent
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great views north back to Sedona
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Kuk liked the multi-colored branches
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higher still — looking out over the forest

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red rocks, green trees/bushes and blue skies — the colors of Sedona

 

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a truly happy bunch!
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first view of Cathedral Rock once we rounded the corner

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moon shot — you can just barely see it
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Cathedral Rock
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Cathedral Rock + Sedona
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back towards the Village of Oak Creek
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another of Cathedral Rock as we move around

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nice shot, albeit looking into the sun
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family shot — I had hoped to get Cathedral Rock in view but my instructions weren’t clear
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and one more — this time of the happy couple
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ahhh . . .
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heading down and around now

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finally made it to Red Rock Crossing (though there was probably a better spot)
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Cathedral Rock from the other side
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onwards!

 

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this hike has it all!

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the 3 of us sans Kuk climbed part way up Cathedral Rock; decided not to go all the way
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on Cathedral Rock
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Courthouse Rock as we walk back towards the trailhead
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one more of Cathedral Rock

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Wednesday (11/23)–Wupatki & Sunset Crater NMs

Given the big hike yesterday, I thought we could have a day of (some) rest and head north on a road trip to Flagstaff.  We didn’t actually spend much time in Flagstaff, however, as we were really after a few more national monuments.  I had grand plans for 3 NMs and the Museum of Northern Arizona.  In the end we were cultured out and decided to just visit 2 and then drove back to see a movie.  (Fantastic Beasts).  See, I’m flexible!  🙂

The two sites were Wupatki and Sunset Crater.  (Walnut Canyon didn’t make the cut).  Wupatki is another ~800 year old Native American site (out in the middle of nowhere).  Sunset Crater was more about the extinct volcanoes in the area.

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Wupatki–and that was about the extent of our collective attention spans unfortunately
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a view of the San Francisco mountain peaks from Sunset Crater
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looks like overturned soil but its actually dried lava
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lava + forest + snow peaked mountain
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more lava
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and standing in the (dried) lava
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another at Sunset Crater
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and another
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Check out this guy — not sure how Kuk spotted it.  I had this video in mind when taking the photo though.

Thursday (11/24)–Bell Rock/Courthouse Loop + Broken Arrow

Thanksgiving!  Naturally, we were going to do a hike (or two).  Since we had the rainout on Monday I had us squeeze in both the Bell Rock/Courthouse Rock loop (4.4 miles in 1:57, Trail 3A on map) and the Broken Arrow/Submarine Rock hike (3.9 miles in 2:27 with lunch, trail 3B).

After 3 years we’ve fine-tuned our new Thanksgiving experience.  Back in 2014 we hiked and then went out to a restaurant which we gave mixed reviews.  Last year, we assumed we’d do something similar but found out nothing was open in Carlsbad except for Walmart and Sonic (yuck).  This year, we planned ahead a bit and ordered a pre-cooked turkey and sides from a local grocery store.  We actually had round 1 on Tuesday and round 2 on Thursday.  We had enough for sandwiches for 2 days as well.  So, for Thanksgiving lunch, we had a turkey sandwich on Submarine Rock.  Cool!

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Bell Rock from the parking lot trailhead
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and another with my wonderful daughter
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Bell and Courthouse — our trail was a very nice loop around both
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early on before turning to the right to loop around counterclockwise
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ahhh . . .
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the kids hung out together most of the time (again waiting for us slow folks)

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quintessential Sedona
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still smiling and its towards the end of the week!

 

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Courthouse from the back side
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hey, there’s Cathedral Rock again (from the east side of the road this time)
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dog attack!
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likely Christmas card (we nabbed the dog owner to get our photo!)

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starting out on Broken Arrow (after moving the car to the trailhead)

 

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another Christmas card option (I was more aggressive about getting our photo taken)

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We actually missed our intended Broken Arrow route and ended up on the Twin Buttes and High on the Hog trails.  It worked out well as we were able to get to a higher vantage point.
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see what I mean?
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can’t get enough of this
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lonely kids on Submarine Rock
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trying the selfie thing — still needs practice

Friday (11/25)–Brins Mesa/Soldier Pass

Last fun day in Sedona.  We took it relatively easy with “only” a 5 miles hike.  We started at the Soldier Pass trailhead, walked over to the Brins Mesa trail head, up Brins Mesa and back down Soldier Pass (5.4 miles in 2:52, trail 4).  This was a repeat from last year although we did it in reverse.  This was the only one that felt like a significant climb and some might say the view/effort ratio was a little low compared to others.

 

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setting off
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red/blue/green — everywhere you go
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not a bad view as we start our climb

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one lone pine cone hanging on (a rare artsy shot for me)
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post climb, up on the mesa

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here’s that climb for reference — not a big deal but it felt like one!

 

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Sunset on our last night — from Upper Red Rock Loop Road looking back at Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Rock (we drove back out later in the afternoon)

Miscellaneous

I planned ahead a little better for this trip.  For both this one and in 2014, we used our timeshare exchange for a place to stay (Sedona is a good option for that).  Last time, I left it a little late and had to split our stay at two resorts.  This time, I got a full week at the Sedona Springs resort and we got a spacious 2-bedroom which worked out really well.  We ate in most nights by choice and had ample space to stretch out (and separate).  The only downside was that we were in a bit of a wi-fi deadspot.  Fortunately, the lobby was close by.  That’s where the kids would hang out after the walks and before dinner.  A typical pose is below:

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gotta stay connected ya know

Summary

We all truly enjoyed our stay in Sedona.  I was surprised how much the kids liked it.  Nicole was particularly happy with it and I can see us coming back in 2 years when it’s time to use the timeshare exchange again.

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