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North Wilson Mountain Trail #123
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mini location map2021-07-26
17 by photographer avatarroaminghiker
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North Wilson Mountain Trail #123Sedona, AZ
Sedona, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 26 2021
Hiking9.64 Miles 2,538 AEG
Hiking9.64 Miles   5 Hrs   39 Mns   1.88 mph
2,538 ft AEG      31 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Soggy. North Wilson Trail was soggy, dripping with moisture, the morning of my hike. Heavy rain had fallen the day before, wetting the foliage, and the high humidity of the early morning (4 am start, beat mid-day sun) added a thick dew. Now on many trails, soggy plants present no problem, the trail being wide and the vegetation sparse. But North Wilson trail runs narrow, and the trail being on the north side, grows thick, and the rains in recent weeks, being heavy, augmented growth, so the vegetation had grown well into and across the trail.

So soggy. The wet foliage soaked my hike pants, at times almost completely. But no mind. The air was cool, and clouds filled the sky throughout the hike, so neither heat nor sun rose to the level of an annoyance. And the trail itself (overlooking the soggy foliage) ran nicely, certainly uphill, fairly steep, but at a constant pitch, only moderately rocky, and easy and distinct to follow. So I could set a steady pace, and proceed upward at a good speed.

As noted, I started early. Despite that, by the morning twilight hour, enough light slipped through the clouds to allow some nice vistas. At First Bench, the sun peaked under the clouds, and created a pleasant sunrise with snippets of orange and yellow just over the horizon. And further along on the hike up, San Francisco Peaks became visible in the distance, the peaks silhouetted against the brighter sky, and with a low morning mist and a line of thin clouds providing accents to the scene.

With a steady stride, I reached the trail marker at the top of the ascent not long after the sun fully rose. The sign announced, in silent patience, that I could choose south, to the Sedona Overlook, or north, to the North Canyon Overlook. I choose north, my having never gone that direction. Going north did mean a bit more distance to go, a good mile plus, to the overlook. But the trail no longer rose steeply, but rather twisted calmly through the gradual undulations of the plateau at the top of Wilson Mountain. I then reached the overlook, unexpectedly, as I didn’t catch any indication of my approaching it. But the views provided the reward for the ascent to get there. The vista expanded outward with grandeur, with peaks and mountains rising out of Oak Creek Canyon, and subsidiary canyons offering their own cliffs and formations. As I gazed, mists roamed randomly through the mountains and cliffs, and clouds drifted across the sky in the background.

Satisfied, and amazed, I headed back. Having reached my main goal, the North Canyon Overlook, I took more notice of the rhythm of the mountain top forest. And that rhythm reflected what I surmised to be a past serious fire. Large patches of thick forests with high pines would give way abruptly to large patches of open low shrub and grasses. Amidst these open patches, isolated pines stood individually, full at the top, but branchless below. And telltale scorched tree trunks dotted the landscape, their bark blacked completely.

The abrupt change from forest to open expanse, the tall pines bare except at the top, and the scorched trunks, spoke of a likely fire. So on my return, I checked. And yes, in 2006, the Brins Mesa fire burned that mesa, which sat below Mount Wilson to the south and east, then climbed up the mountain on its Brins Mesa side, climbed up and partially over the top of Wilson Mountain, the for a length down the other.

As in my ascent, I proceeded downward with good speed, and with the wetness now largely driven off by the sun and lowering humidity. I reached First Bench in the light of mid-morning, that light highlighting the Bench’s vibrant lime green undergrowth and the rounded low pines that speckled the expanse sparsely. And turning back up the trail, I could view the possibly iconic scene of the First Bench trail marker sitting quietly while in the background the south face of Wilson Mountain towered above.

From First Bench, the trail proceeded down, in a north direction, along a ridge line, but then turned left, west, now down the inner face of a canyon, a canyon for the most part concealed and not visible from The main road of Route 89A. An amazing vista opened up. Multiple red and white rock fins and cliffs rose up on the opposite wall of this inner canyon, on the west wall. The formation towered both upward and downward from the trail vantage point.

As the trail continued down, it turned right, out of north end of the canyon to proceed more eastly. The dominant feature now became a rounded, forest covered hill, with only a smattering of exposed rock features. Not terribly scenic, but then again nature is formed by the forces of nature and its life by the guidance of evolution. Only by happenstance does nature please the human eye.

Proceeding on, I arrived at the Encinoso parking area, greeted only by my lone car, and further not having not passed any human along my hike, though several deer, and a good number of birds, did cross my path throughout the day. A bit tired, but satisfied, and appreciative of opportunity to hike, I headed home.

A pragmatic note. While technically the Encinoso parking area does not open until after dawn, no gates blocked my entry at 4 am, and no evidence existed the gates had been closed at any recent time. Do post a red rock or equivalent pass, as I can make not statement as to how often and whether rangers stop by to check for such.

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