This is the group of people I spent April 21-25, 2013, with, as a participant in a Road Scholar program ( www.roadscholar.org ), based out of Sedona, Arizona. (The headquarters for Road Scholar world wide is Boston, Massachusetts.) It was a hiking program to explore what the locals call "Red Rock Country".
All the photos in this particular blog post were taken on our expedition to hike Yavapai Point, just south of Sedona. Our group traveled via two white, 12 passenger vans to all of our trail heads.
When anyone hikes or bikes in Red Rock Country, they must have an official "Red Rock Pass" or a federal national parks pass to park a vehicle on Forest Service land. Some of the trail heads have vending machines like this one, where the visitor can purchase the parking pass. The pass can also be purchased at the Sedona Chamber of Commerce or the Red Rock Ranger Station . A daily pass is $5; weekly, $15; annual, $20. Fortunately, our group did not have to be concerned about the pass, as our leaders had taken care of that detail.
The Yavapai Trail was well marked, but nonetheless, I recommend taking a photo of the trail map with your phone or camera, in case you need to refer to it later in the hike. Such a photo also serves as a "Title Shot" whenever you review your photos later.
Each morning our group gathered at 8 am to travel to our trail head, so that the sun would be a little less intense as we traversed the desert landscapes.
My new friend, Reed, from New York state is shown in this photo, sitting on the trail marker. She is not only resting, but serving as the "trail monitor" for approaching hikers. You see, none of the trails we were on the entire week had any bathrooms or even, port-a-potties. Instead, our leader told us there were "pink bushes" and "blue bushes". When a "relief" stop was necessary, the girls went to the side with the "pink bushes", and the guys went to the side of the trail with the "blue bushes". It was Reed's job, to make sure that none of the approaching hikers coming up the trail, went to the incorrect side! On the first evening of orientation for the week, our leader went into great detail as to how we were to deal with urination and defecation along the trails. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say, we were admonished to "leave no trace"!
Our list of gear to bring for the hiking week included a "day pack", that was to be worn on our backs. These held our snacks, lunches, water, extra socks, "toilet kits", jackets, etc.; considering we were to carry two liters of water every day, they seemed quite heavy when you first started hiking each morning!
With the bright desert sun, most of the participants followed the advice of the leader, and wore a wide-brimmed hat for protection against sunburn.
Our leader was a staff member of Northern Arizona University, and would stop throughout the hike to point out various botanical or geological points of interest. In this photo, he was discussing the giant slabs of rock that had fallen from the mountain above us, and onto the area where we were hiking.
Our leader also told us to be very careful where we put our hands, and other body parts, as we were climbing up rocks. If you are not looking where you put your hand or foot, it is very easy to land on a prickly pear cactus or similar "sticky situation."
In every case, the climb to the summit of the trail was worth it, because of the expansive views one had of the surrounding countryside.
Our group did not do "technical climbing" with ropes and harnesses. Rather, we walked along narrow ledges along the rocks' edge. If one is afraid of heights, this type of hiking might be a bit of a challenge for you!
Some of our group took advantage of the small amount of shade under the rock face, to rest and recuperate, instead of continuing on to the next outcropping.
In this photo, hiker Jeff from New York state, is taking a photo of the first hikers to make it to the "diving board", a nickname for the rock ledge that juts out over the landscape below.
From the "diving board", one can see Sedona to the north, and the Village of Oak Creek to the south.
After making it to the turnaround point, we started our return trip, inching along like mountain goats, on the narrow trail carved into the mountainside.
This photo shows my hiking shoes, as I rested with outstretched legs, during our lunch break. As I ate my lunch in this beautiful setting, I was giving thanks to God for being able to walk to this location, and for being able to see such a glorious landscape.
Along this hike, our leader pointed out the Sego Lily ( Calochortus nuttali ). The word "lily" reminded me of Matthew 6:28 (a part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount ) that says "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." That verse was especially meaningful to me on this day, because my appearance indicated that I was obviously NOT worried about clothes for this hike---not a fashionista for sure! If you would like to learn more about visiting Sedona, just log on to www.VisitSedona.com and I can guarantee that you will find something there that will give you "Miles of Smiles"!! Tricia