Thursday, May 26, 2016

West Fork Trail, Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, Arizona and Dianne's Day

Roger here...  We saved this 3-mile one-way (six miles total) for our last hiking day.  It was one of those early morning days, since we needed to drive all the way through Sedona and an additional ten miles along the winding road of Oak Creek Canyon to get to the trail head before all the parking places were filled.

Speaking of parking spaces, the West Fork Trail parking lot required a $10 fee.  Exorbitant --- especially for a trail operated by the U.S. Forest Service.  We discovered that our National Park Passport which is good at all (well I guess not all) National Parks, Monuments, and Forest Service venues was not recognized here because this particular parking lot is run by a private concessionaire.  Filling the tills of a private company to enjoy a public land just does not seem right --- especially a fee that is unreasonably steep.
We almost turned around to find another hike.  There are literally hundreds of them in the Coconino National Forest; however, we were pretty sure that Bandido would love splashing around in Oak Creek.  Rant over.  

The hike started on a wide trail that quickly descended into the canyon and the edge of the clear waters of Oak Creek.

The rock formations reminded us of others we had seen in the Sedona area, except that they closely guarded the flowing water.

I need to rant a little more.  I know.  I lied.  When we arrived at the creek, the trail appeared to go in two directions.  There was no directional sign or cairn that indicated which way to go.  You would think that some of that $10 fee could be used for better signage where the trail is not clear.  Of course we chose the wrong path.  In fact, we crossed the creek and ended up negotiating a rock slide before deciding that we made an error.  When we got back to the scene of our mistake, I was ready (for a second time) to find another trail. Had it not been for Dianne's patience and encouragement, we would have missed a very unique experience.  Rant over, again.

Going the correct way, many of the formations that were next to the water were eroded in a way that caused them to look like crashing waves.

During the down-and-back hike we crossed the creek 24 times.  Sometimes hopping from rock to rock was easy.  Sometimes not.  I slipped (or was bumped) into the creek several times.  I was wearing hiking shoes that were designed to get wet.  Dianne brought a pair of water shoes that she changed into about half-way through the hike.  The dogs did not mind getting their feet wet in the least.  In fact, they loved it!

You may have noticed that I was carrying hiking poles in the hand that did not have a dog leash.  We should have left the poles behind as they really did not help us with the crossings as we thought they might.  Actually, they had the opposite effect, creating an imbalance.  If we take them on hikes with the dogs again, I need to find a way to attach them to our packs.

Take note in the picture below, that even though I had my ugly (no-sun) hiking hat attached to my neck, I did not have it on.  The heavily wooded canyon  with its high walls deflected most of the sunlight.  

You might also note the somewhat stern look on Bandido's face.  In his own way he was saying to Dianne, "I am loving this hike.  If dad had made us turn back, I would not have licked his hand for a week."

The oak-maple forest with interspersed pine trees gave an entirely different feel to this hike.  The red rocks were there, but they were enhanced by all the green trees.  

A (now happy) man and his dog

Lush Fern Carpet

As we neared the end of the hike, the canyon widened and the scenery opened up.

One of Dianne's favorite flowers is columbine.  At our last two homes in Indiana, she planted columbine seeds that her grandmother had given her.  She was thrilled to see columbines along the trail.

Wild Columbine
As with all of our hikes here, we were tired and hungry when we crawled back into the car.  Fortunately, Sedona is a very dog-friendly town.  We were able to enjoy a delicious pepperoni pizza at the Sedona Pizza Company while the dogs napped under the table.  Excellent.  Dianne had a glass of chianti.  I had a bottle of Oak Creek Ale --- locally brewed and delicious.

Sedona Pizza Company

The dogs did not get a scrap of the pizza, but don't feel too sorry for them.  Whiskers Barkery was next to the pizza restaurant.   We purchased a small bag of bacon/cheddar "cookies" for the dogs.   We also had a nice conversation with a couple visiting from Australia, who recognized our dogs from those they'd seen in Australia.    

Back at the motor home I noticed that I picked up a little dirt along the trail.  No, that is not a tan line.  Getting the dirt off my legs required some soap and some scrubbing.

Dianne's Day

Dianne encourages me to do all the planning while we travel.  Sometimes I guess correctly about what she would like to do.  Sometimes not.  Sometimes she emphatically gives hints that I guessed wrongly.

I insisted that she pick the activities for our last day in Sedona.  I promised that I would not make any attempt to control her decisions (that does not work, anyway).

We slept in.  We walked the dogs and fed them.  We hopped in the car and arrived at the Chapel of the Holy Cross early enough to get a spot in the parking lot.  

We love the architecture of this place.  It is stark and simple.  It is literally built into the side of the red rocks.  

From the parking area a ramp meanders around the rocks up to the chapel.

The view from the chapel of cathedral rock seems appropriate.  The house in the picture below (also red) looks palatial.

This mansion has a view of both cathedral rock and the chapel

The interior of the chapel was just as stark as the outside.  The views through the windows were majestic.  Unfortunately, workers were making repairs on the day of our visit.

View from the chapel

Bell Rock
Cholla Flowers
We did not take any pictures of the rest of Dianne's day, but we did have a nice and relaxing day.  We checked out two hiking stores.  I bought some bungees that I might be able to use to attach our hiking poles to our packs.  We wandered around a Whole Foods store and bought expensive but delicious groceries.  We drove up to the old mining town of Jerome and enjoyed the views of the valley below.   We then enjoyed a cup of coffee on a sidewalk of a small mountain town.  It was a good day.

We are on our way to California --- spending a night outside of Kingman, AZ.  The pet picture of the day shows Bandido in his favorite traveling spot.
Somebody thinks he's a lap dog....

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