Since the temps would be in the low 80s, I decided to head back up to Sedona again for a nice Saturday hike. Tonto was so used to going south for most of the year and now we're going north . We arrived at the Soldiers Pass TH just before the gate opened, third in line for this small parking, but free, area.
I decided I would hike the loop from Jordan Pass and around but as I headed that direction away from Soldier Pass, I decided that I would go up Soldier Pass instead thereby giving the sun time to shine on Wilson Mountain for better pictures. This is my first good choice of the day... and I would make several
! I stopped briefly at the Devil's Kitchen Sinkhole with the Sphinx and Morning Glory above it, shot a quick movie and then moved on since the lighting was not terrific.
Shortly thereafter I was already delighted with the trail as there were sweet views to the west, bedrock to walk on from time to time and shaded areas to enjoy along with the smell of the flora. So wonderful
. I passed a couple women and then a family before going in and out of the wash to start the very gradual incline up Soldier Pass. Eventually I would come to the steep part but was delighted
that it was very short.
I kept looking over to the Arches and hoping that I would stumble on the trail leading to them. Many trails were blocked off and there was one that looked like it might go over there but it seemed quite a distance from where I was standing so I moved on. Pretty soon I am headed to the east and arrive at the intersection with Brins Mesa. Fortunately, I had read a lot about the trail and knew if I headed north I would end up at the FR so I veered to the right to continue my loop.
Shortly thereafter I was fiddling with my papers and I looked down to see a collared lizard. My first
! I fumbled with my camera and tried to hold it and my papers so as not to startle that pretty little critter and was able to fire off some shots and hope
that they wouldn't be blurry; after all, this is my first collared lizard. Paul had gotten some good photos a couple weeks prior so I had a standard to live up to
Soon you come to the area where the after-effects of the 2006 fire are more evident. Some girls were behind me and I heard them comment about the beauty of the trees and I agreed. I do think the morning light made them look a little prettier. However, it was hard to catch that beauty with my camera despite my trying.
Next up was the unexpected side trail over to the golden rock formation. Well that looked like fun so over I went and I crawled on top to admire Sedona's beauty all around me
!!! I decided this was a good place to enjoy a quick snack. Pretty soon another couple came to the top and another female hiker I had passed earlier.
As I was heading back down from the rock, the couple (French) said they didn't have a map and could they make a loop? They said the Visitors Center was closed at 5 so they weren't able to get a map. The gentleman's English was quite good. The wife would say something and he would translate. I happened to have two maps I printed out so I showed them the loop and gave them my other map. She liked taking pics but I think he wanted to keep moving along. I would see them again sitting on a log at the Jordan TH.
I continued on the beautiful Brins Mesa enjoying the breeze I had encountered since getting to the top. A cool breeze is something I found I really appreciate this time of year. And then I got to the end of the mesa where you start going down. Once again, I was struck by the beauty
on both sides of me. I had to keep reminding myself that Kelly said I didn't have to keep a fast pace on this type of hike. Thank goodness
! This was one of those hikes that as hard as I tried to keep turning my camera off, it was a fruitless cause.
Off to my left looking across the flora dotted red rock hill below Wilson Mountain I could see rock pillars. Those always get my attention so the "zoom" was in full TibberMode. Off to my right was a rock outcropping with a smaller rock outcropping inside that had windows. An older gentleman working his way up this steep grade called it The House (because of the windows). I would later be able to tell that you could only see the windows from this angle.
I asked the gentleman which side was harder to come up and he said the Brins Mesa side
. It seemed that way to me too which confirmed a good decision on my part to come up Soldiers Pass. This was sure a pretty side though with all the flora and the knock-out beauty of Wilson Mountain. I started wondering, "Why was everyone holding out on me about this hike
I finally got to the bottom of the hill and realized my hip flexors were killing me and I had only gone 3 1/2 miles. I love these new boots I bot a few months ago but this hip flexor issue is annoying. I'm still not sure if it's the hike or the boots so I am going to try my old boots (now being retired by Keen) this weekend to see if the hips are an issue. The hip flexor issue is aggravating as the ibuprofen just doesn't seem to help enough.
Another great thing about this loop is there are restroom facilities a little more than 1/2 way. Can't beat that. Next it was on to Cibola Pass. About 1/2 way up that there is a bit of a clearing that gives you great views to the south and east. At the top, there is a gate you pass through to continue but there is also a bit of a trail taking you further up the hill along the fence line... so why not.
Well this was fun and my reward, a great view of the Sphinx/Morning Glory, Cibola Mitten, the house and Wilson Mountain. Yep, it's time to rest and have a snack. I found a slightly shaded area and relaxed my laurels while eating my apples and cheese admiring my view in awe
. Satisfied with another good choice I made this day, I started back down the hill to meet up with the main trail again.
I'm thinking, "shouldn't need to use the camera too much more" BUT as usual, "wrong again photo breath". This trail had some pretty views and flora and bedrock and rock formations too. Eventually I finally made it back to the Devil's Kitchen Sinkhole and grabbed a few pics before heading on to try and find the Seven Pools I had missed on the way up. My hip flexors were really starting to bother me again so I set a time frame and if I didn't see them, I'd turn around.
Lucky for me, I found the pools and though there nothing to write home about right now, they did have some water in them so I walked down to the bottom pool and filmed a movie coming back up. I then headed back and decided to take the Teacup Trail thinking it would take me back to the TH. Oops, not quite so I backtracked just a tad to the dry creek bed and walked down it instead. As I was walking I thot to myself, "Sure would be nice if the Supes creek beds were this easy to walk through
". I wanted to pay attention though as I didn't want to miss the trail to the TH. Well this would not be a problem as there is a Keep Out Sign posted just after the trail crosses the creek.
It was a great morning to be sure. I was so . And now, I grabbed some lunch and headed Tonto south including a stop at near the Rest Area at Sunset Vista Point to get some pics of the fire: http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=20048
Here is some video:
Part 1 is up Soldiers Pass and on the Mesa - http://youtu.be/itCClC-SM90
Part 2 is on the Mesa down to and over Cibola Pass including the view from the Saddle, Devil's Kitchen Sinkhole and Seven Pools - http://youtu.be/kzttxGCrwng