Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Mesa, AZ - The Canal: a Banal Locale

Today, and yesterday and the day before, we walked the canal. How banal is walking the canal. Ooh, did I really say that? But, it’s all true. We don’t always hike and need to find some place to walk around where we are. Usually, we walk around Mesa where we’re living for a while. If we just want a quick walk, we’ll walk around the resort itself. It’s about 3 miles around the outside and we can get at least 3 miles of our usual 4. Usually by that time, I’m bored with walking around the resort, am conveniently close to where we started at our RV and I decide that it’s time to start dinner. Gary is all too ready to agree.

However, most of the time we find ourselves a 4-mile walk outside the resort. Luckily, we’ve got a canal, called the Eastern Canal, which goes both north and south out of the resort. Whoo-eee, two different directions. And, the story gets even better: we can walk on either side of the canal. We can go north for a while on the east side of the canal and then return to the resort on the west side. Whoop-de-doo. But, I’m making fun here and, in truth, it is what it is. At least we have a place to walk and we often (read: usually) walk the canal for a while and then go into the neighborhoods for the rest of the walk.

However for variety, we often combine errands with our daily walk and find a place to walk around where we have to do our errands. Several days ago, we had a stop at Best Buy where we walked Roosevelt Canal and then entered the neighborhoods around there.

Today we had to pick up some parts at Freightliner so we found a park and a ‘new’ canal to walk along. The park was huge, it had a large Bark Park, a disk golf course, a playground where I got to try out a new ‘toy’
a picnic area and a large archery course. Here we met Dan practicing up for the coming Usury Park tournament. He took time to explain it all to us. Look at that bow! He must be a professional. Well, no, but he’s actually one of the top senior amateurs in the US, coming off a win in his class at the Senior Olympics. We were quite impressed and I took this picture when he shot his second arrow. With a magnifying glass, not only could I see his second arrow in flight, but I could also see his first arrow in the center of the tiny white dot in the center of his target. He’s not all bow and no quiver. He’s the real deal.
But, on with the walk where we meet more interesting people. This was not our usual banal canal walk. But, of course, we had a new locale, great for our morale.

We didn’t meet this next group but were able to appreciate them from our side of the canal.
We walked by the Chandler airport, what we thought was a small local airport. Wrong. It began as a crop dusters airport
but is now actually one of the nation’s 50 busiest airports with more than 160,000 operations per year and over 443 flights per day. We certainly noticed it with planes buzzing overhead as we were walking beside it. But we also noticed about 25 of these located along the inside of airport fence. We have no idea what these could be. And, what are those small wooden arrows? And, what are they pointing towards? These look like graves but certainly not, not in this location, not with these arrows. ’Tis a puzzlement’ as the King of Siam would say.
Then we met these young gentlemen from China who are in pilot training here in the US at the Chandler airport. They’ve been hired by various Chinese airlines and sent over here to train because China is too crowded. Is that how we in the US even out the trade imbalance?
Well, we’ve gone 2 1/2 miles and it’s time to head back to the park where our car is. In the park are some little posters explaining the canal’s history. It was started by Dr. A.J. Chandler who wanted to bring water to the area which bears his name. It is now 18 miles long and is the largest canal in Mesa though it still begins through Chandler. Dr. Chandler thought big and had a huge dredge channel its course 26’ deep. Not only does it bring water to an otherwise dry area but it also helps supply electricity.
In the park, which is considerably higher than the canal (we think it used to be a ‘land fill’) they’ve built some laddered drainage ditches to allow any overflow water in the park to flow down to the canal itself. At the end of the drainage ‘ladder’, they built a wall to divert the force of the water but note how the water is undermining the lower right hand side of this wall.
And that was our canal walk for today. Even a walk along a canal can be interesting. Who knew?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Pass Mountain

The Phoenix area has a multitude of hiking trails and it’s no wonder that National Geographic recognized this area as one of the best hiking areas and that it has also been recognized as one of the Top Ten Urban Destinations for Nature Lovers. There are literally hundreds of trails within 50 miles and these vary in length from short nature hikes to the Arizona Trail which runs the length of the state. There are dozens of trailheads throughout the city making these trails easy to hike in a morning, afternoon, before class or after work. Some are extremely busy while others are very secluded. We’ve hiked many of them and are looking forward to finding many more this winter.

But for our first hike this winter we chose the Pass Mountain hike, challenging but with amazing views. We both like this trail and coincidently chose it as the first hike we took last year also. It is a loop hike around Usery Mountain and both Gary and I confessed that we didn’t like the beginning or the end which are just walks across desert washes. The middle which climbs to the Pass and the loop around the mountain on the wilderness side is what we like best.

We got to the trailhead about 9:00, and, since it was a Saturday, there were dozens of cars in the parking lot. And, why oh why was the Women’s Room locked? This calls for teamwork and 2 other women and I comandeered the Men’s Room, standing guard in rotation until we were all done.

We climbed to the Pass and took a break. Here one can look west and see Phoenix and its suburbs, shrouded in smog, look east and it’s all wilderness with nary a sign of humans.

And, looming over it all are the Superstition Mountains.
Aged saguaros stand tall as if guarding the trails.
while jumping chollas lurk quietly at your feet.
We finished our hike in at 1:30 and headed home.

There, Gary spent some time pulling these little pokey things out of the bottom of his pack with his pliers. Where he had gotten these is a question. But - we’re glad that the pliers are not in my hand pulling the thorns out of a much more sensative spot.

7.5   995'

Friday, October 25, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Sue Fals, Russians and Evil Friends


Amazing how easily one can shoot a day trying to change addresses with large corporations. Between the two of us we must have spent about 1 3/4 hours with Humana/Walmart both changing addresses and then signing up for the 2014 prescription drug plans: 1/2 hour changing addresses and 1 1/4 hour signing up for 2014 plans. At one point, the rep on the other end told me that I had to listen to a phone disclosure that lasted 6 minutes. He underestimated: it was 9 minutes 19 seconds. I could have filed my nails during it but every now and then it asked for a response. Tricky, that disclosure statement. Then, because Gary was also renewing his plans, we got to listen to the 9 minutes, 19 seconds again.

Probably the most difficult thing was trying to get young people on the help desk to understand the name of Sioux Falls, SD. One young woman asked: ‘Is that Sue as in the girl’s name?’ I’ll bet she can text message with the best of them and can tell you at the drop of a hat what Kim Kardashian wears at any given moment. But ‘Sioux’, that’s beyond her.

Another young man laughed and spelled it Foo Fals. I tried to tell him that it was ‘Sioux’ as in the name of an Indian tribe, spelled it for him - and, as an added bonus, I also spelled ‘Falls’ for him but it was a hard sell. I spent about 30 minutes on the line with him and he told me every single computer key his fingers touched. I heard him say ‘delete, delete, delete, delete’ and I heard him say ‘F9, F10, F11.’ I wanted to tell him that silence was golden but I was afraid to distract him and make the call longer than it already was.

Some companies realize that people move, that address changes are common and a way of life. These companies make it easy for you and you can change addresses on line. I’ve changed many that way. Then there are the companies that require a signed notarized form - one for each account. But phone calls to large corporations are the worst: how many phone trees before I actually can talk to a human?


I use Blogspot. com to upload my blogs. This is a Google website and they make it pretty easy to write a blog and upload pictures to it. One of the features of this website is the ability to see how many people have read your blog. There is a ‘stats’ section that can tell you how many page views there were in any given day, week, month and all time. You can also see what country readers are coming from. As if I care. Ah- who am I kidding? I check every now and then - I think that anyone who writes would like to know how many people read what they write.

However my stats are bogus. I’ve got a lot of page views coming in from a web site called: (and I’m writing this wrong here so that no one can go there - I’m not sure what kind of site it is and what it might do to anyone’s computer) vampire stat. com. And, most of these readers live in Russia. MY blog? What secrets do they think I have? What do they think they’re going to learn of any value? The blog they read most often is one I called: Walt and the Lyon Steps, about the Walt Disney museum and the Lyon stair steps in San Francisco. This is my most popular blog and most of the readers are Russian. I have read and reread this blog many times to try to see what word in it keys hackers from Russia that this is a valuable blog. I want to go to their website and tell them to get off my blog.

Maybe they’ll read this blog and realized that they’re reading the wrong person.


Ocean fix, ocean fix. When will we get our ocean fix? Not for awhile if I know our schedule, and, since i put it together, I know it pretty well. We will get to the ocean when we hit San Diego in February. Meanwhile I’ll live my ocean dreams through friends of ours who are in Galveston now, heading towards Baton Rouge and all points south. Not only does she tell me about all the ocean and water things they are doing but then she adds insult to injury when she sends pictures of all the sights they’re seeing. These pictures have water, ferries, seagulls, beaches, waves, palm trees, sunshine, etc. All designed to make me envious.
Evil people, these friends of ours. And, I’m sure they’ll rub salt in my wound when they send more pictures as they head east along the Gulf Coast. Hey, Shirley and Jerry, you know I”m kidding, keep sending the pictures. I love them. I hope you keep having a great trip.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mesa, AZ - Repairs vs Remodeling

Last year about this time we limped into Mesa with some major problems that needed to be fixed.
  1. Our main awning had come off in an August wind on an Iowa highway. Because Mesa, AZ has so many more service facilities than Iowa, we had rolled the awning and the whole bracket up and laid it on the floor in our living/dining room in the RV. This was the only place big enough to carry it all the way down to Mesa. Needless to say, we had to watch our feet so that we didn’t trip over it anytime we went to sit down at the table.
  1. On our way down to Mesa our bedroom slide had broken and, after an afternoon of slow patient work, we had gotten it in - not to be opened again until we could get it fixed. Of course the bed now blocked the wardrobe so our clothing options were smaller. But, we’re traveling, who sees us two days in a row? (Note there’s no slide awning and the metal strand connecting the slide to the RV is split in two. It’s actually split in about 5 strands but the remaining 3 are curled up behind the black gasket on the right. )
  1. We had noticed while we were still in Iowa that the front windshield seemed to be slipping down. Gravity was exerting its usual influence on our windshield. Huh? Yep, there was a space large enough to stick a putty knife blade through between the top of the RV shell and the windshield.

Awning rolled up on the floor, bedroom slide in for good and a slipping windshield? How could this all go wrong in about 2 months? How could it all happen to the same RV? Why us? (Not that I’d want all this to happen to any other RV’er.)

Sure did make our first few weeks in Mesa feel like a year. And that is why we now have a different RV than the one that limped into Mesa. This year we are not limping into Mesa. Ha, ha, if you’ve been reading this blog, you’re now saying: ‘But, Nancy, you limped into Grand Junction, CO and ‘camped’ in the Freightliner parking lot for 8 days.’ Ouch, yes, we did. But, we’d only have been there for 2 days if our problems had been diagnosed correctly on the first or second time and a part hadn’t arrived already broken.

So, instead of limping into Mesa with problems that need to be solved before we can continue, we have a wish list of things we’d like to change in our RV:
  1. Replace the carpeting with something, anything that cleans easily with a mop and/or a broom.
  2. Replace the day-night shades with MCD shades. Nothing is wrong with our day-night shades, in fact they’re in great shape. But - shucks, I’d just like some MCD shades.
  3. Replace our lounge chair with a small desk.
Ah, a small remodeling list not a huge repair list. Much better. Things we WANT to do, not things we HAVE to do.

We arrived in Mesa today, called RV Renovators and will be there tomorrow bright and early with our wish list.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cottonwood, AZ - Trail Creep

We’ve all heard of Mission Creep. Well, the same thing can happen out on the trail. A relatively short simple loop trail keeps growing and growing and pretty soon, you’re tired. Today the goal was to hike the Brins Mesa and Soldier’s Pass trail then we added the CaveTrail then the Overlook Trail and finally the Jordan Trail - well, you get the picture.

And, off we went. Brin’s Mesa is a long uphill slog and tackling that first in a counter-clockwise loop is not fun. We learned that the hard way in 2010 when we first hiked this loop. Big Mistake. In 2011 we hiked clockwise and headed up the shady, treed Soldier’s Pass and went down Brins. Today we also went clockwise but had heard about a Soldier’s Pass Cave trail and wanted to try this also. See, trail creep. We had seen these caves long ago on a previous hike but had not known that we could hike up to them. This time they were part of the goal.
But, we didn’t know where the Cave Trail branched off from the Soldier’s Pass Trail and we hiked right by it, about 1/2 mile. Finally we realized we must have missed it, turned around and headed back. We looked and looked but finally a hiker from Bulgaria who is visiting Sedona told us. He had talked with an author of a Sedona hiking book who had pointed out the trail to him. He pointed it out to us and actually accompanied us for a bit. It wasn’t the most heavily traveled spur but we found 2 people coming down as we headed up. Rocky, steep and overgrown are good words to describe this trail. But we found the caves and enjoyed the view out from them.
Back to original trail and up and over Soldier’s Pass to Brins. A ways along the Brins Trail we found another smaller trail which branched off and headed to an overlook. Trail creep again. At the overlook, not only did we find this neat tree (what is it that compels people to put rocks in a dead tree?) but also a view across Sedona and the flat airport mesa to the mountain ranges in the shadows beyond. Well worth a bit of trail creep.

As we traveled across the highlands that is Brins Mesa, we saw the effects of a fire that ravaged this area several years ago, started by an illegal, untended campfire. I took a picture of the sign describing this fire. Not how fast it grew. You can see how fast the fire burned each of its 5 days and its growth through the backcountry of Sedona.
The charred tree trunks were ghostly against the sky but new brush is growing and flowers abound along the trail.

We finished Brins but instead of taking the shorter Cibola Trail back, we took Jordan Trail back. Trail creep again.

At the end we found the Devil’s Kitchen, an area which was created by the collapse of gigantic underground caverns in the red limestone walls in the 1850’s. In 1989, the huge red chunk in the back fell, increasing the size of the sinkhole until it is now 150’ by 92’ and is about 40 - 60’ deep.
Finally we arrived back at our car. About time. Ah, don’t let me kid you, it was a fun hike and we’ll probably do it again if we spend time in Sedona.

7.3   1542,

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cottonwood, AZ - The Pass, the Arch and the Tarantula

There are many good hikes in the Sedona area and we’ve hiked and enjoyed many of them. But, we like to try something new and today it was the Sterling Pass trail. Not the most popular, not through the signature Sedona red rocks, not beside a bubbling stream but a hike that we enjoyed and will do again should we come back to this area. It’s challenging since it is a steep ascent of the west face of Oak Creek canyon to a high pass and then a swift descent through a piney woods forest to the Vultee Arch. And, yep, you’ve got to do the whole thing in reverse on the way back. Rubbery legs, here I come.

It all started several days ago when I looked at a map and saw FR 152 passing by both the Vultee Arch and the Devil’s Bridge. Why not drive up the road, hike to Vultee Arch, drive back down the road to the Devil’s Bridge and then head home? Sounds simple, right? But, on Friday, we hit FR 152 (by reputation the worst road in Arizona) and our plan melted. We parked, walked up the road to Devil’s Bridge and 2 miles towards the Vultee Arch trail, but road walking with Pink Jeeps and ATV’s whizzing by us, churning up the dust, is not my idea of a great hike. So we looked at the map for alternate routes. We found 2:

        a. take the Chuckwagon Trail for 1.5 miles, FR 152 for 4 miles (Yecch), Vultee Arch Trail for 1.5 miles and then reverse this. Long, dusty, b-o-r-r-ring. And, did I say LONG? 

        b. take the 2 1/2 mi. Sterling Pass Trail up 1500’, down 1200’, Vultee Arch Trail for 1/4 mi. then reverse this. Short, challenging, and much more exciting. You’re either going up or you’re going down, not many level places in this trail. But did I say SHORT?

Can you guess which way we took today? Gotta take the short trail. And, we were off. Finding the trailhead proved difficult and, finding a parking place even more difficult. The problem is that this trailhead for this trail in on the Oak Creek Canyon road, and on a Saturday in the fall, is bumper to bumper with every other driver thinking he’s Tony Stewart, rounding the last curve to the checkered flag. But, after a u-turn, we found the trailhead and quickly slid into a parking space.
We have an app in our IPhone which tracks our hikes. It gives the distance, the speed (really slow), the elevation we climb, and the grade we climb. It also tracks us on a map which can come in handy when you take a different trail back to your car and you want to see if you are really heading back to your car. Once we looked at the map and found we were heading away from where our car was parked. Oops. Above is the elevation map for this hike. The low point on the left is the trailhead, then we begin climbing to the high point on the left, which is the pass itself. Then we head down to the low point in the middle, which is the arch. Then we head back up hill and the high point on the right is the pass again (we were in a deep canyon and the GPS couldn't track us exactly) and the low point on the right is the trailhead again. Interestingly, the highest grade we climbed at was 38.5 degrees. Sounds like a stair-stepper to me.

And we began at 9:00. The trail follows the wash/run-off for much of its length and then it begins to climb, and climb, and climb. Much of the trail on this side of the pass went through a fire about 5 years ago. Most of the trees are dead and are now blackened charred hulks. But the under brush is back and about 5’ high. Because the trail is not as well used as others, there are fallen trees across the trail in many spots, the trail is hard to see in the underbrush for many spots but that only makes it that much more fun. We noticed that there were recent bootprints and knew that there were 2 cars at the trailhead but we saw no one else and enjoyed the solitude.
Then we heard voices, seemingly coming from thin air. Ahead of us? Nope, way off the trail and higher than we are. Aha. Rock climbers up on the pinnacle, clinging to the steep rock edge. By this time, we ought to get over seeing rock climbers and thinking them unusual. We see them everywhere and, though we are in awe of their skill, think them nuts.
As we climbed we left the trees behind and had some marvelous views across Oak Creek Canyon to the cliffs on the East side. The views continued to improve as we climbed and - gave us an excuse to rest as I took pictures.
Finally, we reached the pass and savored being able to stand erect on level ground, hemmed in by tall sandstone cliffs glistening in the noon-day sun.
After a short rest we headed down the other side of the pass. The trees were thick on the other side and the trail was more dirt than the rocks we had climbed on the east side. A forest primeval. 
At first we found long switchbacks but, as they descended into the bottom of Sterling Canyon, they got shorter and steeper. Gary was ahead of me and blithely stepped over this.
I saw it, stopped and backed up a bit - enough to get about 4’ from it but close enough to get a picture.

Then a hiking club from Phoenix came up the hill (no wonder there were fresh bootprints on the trail.) We told them to stop and we all got some tremendous shots of an angry tarantula. Note the outstretched legs which I hear is the threatening defensive position. Or so says the guy in the hiking club who has tarantulas as pets. I just hope he’s not there when we head back up the hill. We skirted the tarantula, continued on down the hill, took the turnoff to the Vultee Arch and headed up for a short bit. And, there it was, right in front of us. Beautiful, especially with the green foliage to offset the rusty red color of the arch.
There was no designated trail up to the arch itself so we spread our lunch out on a sandstone bluff and just appreciated the view from afar.
Well, right about now, you’re asking: why is it called Vultee Arch? And, you guessed it, I have the answer. It’s named for Gerard Vultee, an aviation pioneer who crashed near here with his wife, Sylvia in 1938. His close friend, Donald Smith, who was also a VP of Vultee wrote a letter to TIME magazine about Jerry's death:


Gerard F. Vultee ("Jerry"), not Gerald, my close friend and business associate for many years, was killed when the cabin monoplane he was flying with Mrs. Vultee crashed on the flat top of Wilson Mountain [TIME, Feb. 7]. ... Caught in a local snow-storm and blizzard with no training in blind or instrument flying, he was unable to find his way out.’

This is the plaque erected on this site to dedicate the arch to him.
Lunch, relaxing and, now, the reverse: a steep climb up to the Pass followed by a steep climb down to our car at the trailhead. We then met several others also climbing Sterling Pass to the Vultee Arch. This trail is not as ‘social’ a trail as West Fork but, on a Saturday in the fall, it does attract hikers.

As we were climbing towards Sterling Pass from the Vultee arch, we met a couple heading down towards the Arch: sneakers on their feet, no water, no hats, just not dressed for a challenging hike. They asked how much further to the arch and we told them about 1 mile. Disappointed they continued on down the slope and we continued up. We reached the Pass and finally got to head downward in our final stretch. Whee!!!

Near the end of the trail, that young couple caught up with us, having turned back before the arch. They were tired, hungry, hurting, and thirsty. We asked how they ever got on this trail and they told us that a woman in the hotel told them about this trail. ‘Wish she had stressed the ‘aggressive’ a bit more’, they said. Well, yes. What was that woman thinking? 2 flatlanders from Wichita, new to the area, in town for a long weekend and she recommends this hike? Why not West Fork or Bell Rock or many other trails which would not only show off Sedona colors in their best light but would also be much more appropriate for these two? Oh, well, they’ll recover.

We reached the car and started back towards Sedona. Oops, it’s Saturday and Sedona was packed with moving tourists and their cars. Several miles before Sedona itself, we found ourselves in a long line of cars.
Marvelous trail and we enjoyed the challenge, the views from both sides of the Pass, the WOW!! factor at the end and the piney woods hills atmosphere, compared to the deserts where we usually hike.

5.5, 2790’

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cottonwood, AZ - Devil's Bridge

Our goal today was to drive up to Vultee Arch on FR 152 (Forest Road 152), hike to the arch, drive back down FR 152 to the Devil’s Bridge, the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area, hike to that and then drive home. Knowing that these two hikes are fairly short, I also had hopes of driving over to Fay Canyon and hike that also. Right, as if we might get all this done. Luckily I hadn’t told Gary what my ‘real’ plans were. But it didn’t matter since we took the turn-off for FR 152, drove 50’ and - there it was - a real ‘natural materials’ road. Actually, we think the first few boulders were placed in strategic spots to discourage people from driving on this road.
We drove the road for about 1/2 mile then decided to park our Jeep along the road and walk the road as have many others judging by the boot prints we were following. When we got to the trailhead for the Devil’s Bridge we turned in, just as 3 young women from Michigan were turning in also. We enjoyed talking with them as we all hiked to the top. Since this is a popular hike, it was a conga line up to the Bridge itself as many others had the same idea we did. As we were climbing up, others, who had gotten there earlier, were climbing down. Finally we reached the top and saw about 30 others scrambling around. As is usual in this kind of situation, everyone was polite, waiting for others to get their pictures taken before walking out on the bridge itself for their picture.

Here’s Gary out on the Bridge. Me, I’m just the photographer.
We then climbed to a spot under the arch for another view.
Finally, we hiked back down the trail, turned right up the road and began to hike towards Vultee Arch. If we didn’t want to drive to it, we thought we’d hike. We were passed by several Pink Jeeps and several what I called ‘doodlebugs’ since they were small ATV’s. After about 3 miles, we checked our GPS and realized that we were still only 1/2 was to Vultee Arch. Hmmm. Time for lunch while we mull this over.

Nope, we decided that we were not going to make it all the way to Vultee Arch today, turned back and followed a forest trail back to our car. No more of that road bit.
We also had a great view of Bear Mountain and all of its various levels where we had hiked several days ago. Doe Mountain, another popular hike is the shorter mesa to the left . We began in the trailhead which is between Doe and Bear and headed up to the highest point on Bear Mountain.
Actually, all the trails in this area are new in the last 2 years, compliments of the Red Rock Rangers. Wanting more trails they took a large parcel and carved out about 4 new trails. When we got back to the car, we headed over to the trailhead to see the map for these new trails, parked and saw this group of artists as we headed over to the map. Looks like artists congregate in popular spots just like hikers.
At the map we met a couple who had gotten married in this area 2 years ago. But, since then the area has all been changed: new trails, new trailhead, new parking lot. They were having trouble finding where they had actually said their vows but thought it was right about where the artists were.

6.81 1330’

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cottonwood, AZ - West Fork

Ask anyone to recommend a hike in Sedona and somewhere near the top of every list will be the West Fork of Oak Creek. And, with good reason, it’s a fun hike which has 13 stream crossings, dense forest with huge pine trees, red rocks towering overhead, peeking through the leaves, and in the fall, marvelous color in those leaves. Usually, when you get to the parking lot, it’s swirling with cars looking for a parking spot. It’s a ‘take a number and wait your turn kind’ of hike. But the masses of people here don’t detract from the experience, rather the laughter and chatter of others enjoying being outdoors in nature together only add to ones own joy.

We had planned on being there at 8:30 to beat the crowds so Gary and I were on the road about 8:00 heading towards Sedona. About 1/2 way there we rounded a corner and saw this:
beautiful sight but too close to the highway to be safe. Distracted, the driver ahead of us was startled and swerved quickly into the passing lane. We slowed down but were far enough away to see that it was off the highway, but we also moved into the passing lane.

For the first few days of the government shutdown, the actual parking lot at West Fort was closed and everyone was parking alongside the road, the narrow road with no shoulders to park on. Finally, as we heard, the sheriff told the Forest Service to open the parking lot because all the cars along the road were a hazard. So the lot was open but - they were not charging for parking and the bathrooms were not open.

We met Cathy and Tom, drove to the parking lot and had no problem finding a space. We readied for a hike, took pictures near the sign and took off - on the cement path which takes you from the parking lot to the official beginning of the trail, over the bridge and through the orchard planted years ago by one of the original homesteaders in the canyon. The first thing you see is the ruins of Mayhew Lodge, build in 1925 with the rock chimney one of the few reminders of its past glory. Here Zane Grey penned his novel Call of the Canyon, inspired by the beauty of the canyon surrounding him.

When they filmed his novel in the canyon, Carl Mayhew, a Flagstaff photographer, who worked on the film, bought the land and built a lodge to house visitors. It opened in 1926, one of the first businesses to cater to tourists to the Sedona area. The family operated the lodge until 1968, welcoming such guests as Jimmy Stewart, President Herbert Hoover, Walt Disney and Clark Gable who celebrated an anniversary here. It was practicality self-sufficient with its own chicken coop,
orchard and vegetable gardens.

The Forest Service purchased the lodge in 1968, and the lodge was placed on the National List of Historic Places in 1975 but removed 5 years later when it was gutted by fire.
The entry sign said that there were 13 stream crossings and we found the first one soon after we began the trail.
The trees were in their autumn glory.

But the sheer rock canyons towering above shared in the glory.


But we couldn’t let the natural beauty surrounding us distract us from our footwork on the creek crossings. Strategically placed rocks helped us. Luckily, it was fall and the creek was not running as swiftly nor as high as in the spring, the season when we last visited this hike in 2009.
The end of the hike for most of us was at this pool where the cliffs closed in and made wading the only way to access the rest of the trail which continues on for.
We stopped here, found a convenient rock to sit on, took off our packs and relaxed over lunch.
The walk back was as spectacular as the walk in. What a great hike and we can see why it is so popular with all who visit this area and who live year-round.