I decided to head to Sedona for my weekend (Monday and Tuesday) for a nice leisurely camping trip. Started off at the Red Rocks Ranger Station, my first time in the new building - it's very nice, certainly a big upgrade from their old digs in the strip mall.
R.R.Pass in hand, I set off for the Cathedral Rock TH just down the street. I didn't even know about this hike until a few days before, and I'm glad I finally found out about it. The small parking lot was full when I arrived, but a car was getting ready to leave so my wait was very short - by the time I left the lot, there were several open spaces.
As many triplogs report, this trail was a pleasant surprise. Scrambling up and down the slickrock was alot of fun, though hiking on that type of angled rock hurts my feet. Butt-scooted two or three times on the way down. Saw some of the coolest juniper trees ever on this hike. So I went to the saddle and had a nice rest out on a sunny outcropping - very peaceful. It looked like you could continue up from the saddle to the left but I didn't explore it. Enjoyed the great view of "The Mace" rock climb - looks scary and fun! There was a small hawk or a falcon swooping around the mace on the way down. I would recommend this is a great, short, but reasonably challenging and adventerous hike that you, and possibly your visitors from out of state, can do for free (with R.R. pass)in Sedona. Back near the trailhead, I chatted with a pair of nice older couples from Florida and Tennessee who were enjoying the area very much, though "not used to the hills!" ...
After a Circle K stop in Sedona, I drove up 89A to the Cave Springs Campground, which is closest to West Fork where I was going in the morning. C.S. is in a nice setting, but the sites next to the creek are also closest to the road, which is a bummer. Also, the restrooms were atrocious! After one peek, I refused to use them - you'd think that RRM, which runs the campgrounds, could do a better job for $20 a night!
I choose a site, paid the fee to the lockbox, and set up camp before noticing the small print on the campground map that said "sites in A loop are by reservation only" - crap, I was A13. Oh well, there was no host on duty anyhow, and the campground was at least 3/4 empty, so I stayed put. Spent the next couple of hours wandering up and down the creek, taking photos, snacking, looking into pools, gaping at foliage, talking to ravens, looking for berries ... it was a lovely way to spend the late afternoon.
After it got dark, I was visited either 4 or 5 times by skunks - or possibly the same skunk 4 or 5 times, I don't know. One kept coming right towards me until it was just on the other side of the picnic table, then it sat up and took several good sniffs before finally retreating. I love skunks around camp - none of them sprayed or smelled at all, and they are so cute!
But the wildlife fun wasn't over yet. Not three minutes after I got settled in the tent and turned off the light, I got my first visitor investigating the tent ... various animals were to keep me awake for half the night! Most interesting was when a deer (i think - I had the fly on so I didn't see the critters) actually bumped into the guyline of the tent fly. It shook the tent like a strong gust of wind hit it, but there was no wind, and it was followed immediately by inquisitive, deer-sounding footsteps circling the tent. Another smaller critter - skunk, I assume, though maybe racoon or something else? - circled and checked out the tent ... then did a little industrious digging under one side of it.
Slept very badly, due to animals and the cold - 40 degrees when I crawled out of the tent at 8a.m. But I was happy to be going to West Fork - will post that triplog soon.