This photo depicts the outdoor orientation that my Sedona Road Scholar group ( www.RoadScholar.org ) received, as we started out on our first day, of what would be a full week of hiking and exploration in Red Rock Country around Sedona, Arizona ( www.VisitSedona.com ).
We climbed the slight incline out of the dry, rocky creek bed, headed into what our leader said was an area called Long Canyon.
When our leader pointed out this "Y"- shaped stick on the trail, saying that it was a very important marker, to tell us how to return to our vans, I was getting pretty concerned about the possibility of getting lost, if random sticks were going to be our only trail markers! I begin to actively start praying---repeating over and over---the first part of Psalm 16:11 that says "You make known to me the path of life...". I took this photo of the stick because our leader PROMISED us it would still be laying in that same spot six hours later when we were scheduled to hike out of the canyon. I was skeptical, however!
After a bit more distance, we finally saw an "official" trail marker, so I was beginning to feel more reassured that I would not get lost in the desert, and never be heard of again!
Many mountain bikers turn off the Long Canyon trail, and ride along the Deadman Pass Trail. With a name like "Deadman", I was glad we were not taking that route!
We encountered some of those mountain bikers as they were returning from their morning ride on Deadman's Trail, and stopped to chat with them for awhile.
After a while, the jeep trail becomes overgrown with oak, manzanita, willow, sycamore, and maple trees, and hikers have to regroup to walk single-file.
Our leader had each of us put our noses up against the bark of this large ponderosa pine tree, and then tell the others what we smelled. My friend Lynn, shown in this photo, said she smelled vanilla (which is also the aroma I detected).
I read that the tree pictured here is part of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in north America.
You might be able to guess what this tree is called, just by looking at its bark. It is the crocodile juniper tree.
The Pritchards are shown in this photo, studying the tall stalk of the agave plant, in the center of the photo.
Some steep "scrambling" (aka, rock climbing) took us up above the canopy to narrow ledges along the sandstone cliff walls.
The higher altitude gave us a good view of this rock formation, which some locals call the "ice cream cone" because of the top of the formation, which looks like swirls of caramel ice cream.
After walking along the ledges for several yards, we came upon these dwelling remains, and some pictographs. I was enjoying sitting down for a rest stop here, and assumed that this would be the location for a leisurely lunch.
I was wrong, however, as we were told to "keep on moving", since we had lots more territory to cover!
Eventually, however, we stopped along a cliff face, to have our lunch. I read one description of the Long Canyon Trail that said it involved a lot of "frictioneering". I never could find out a good definition of "frictioneering", but since I am using friction of the rough rock, against the friction of my tired body, in this photo, I am adding new meaning to that term!
As our group started back down the trail, our local guide, Peter (shown in this photo facing the camera), was very diligent to keep looking back to see if I was still with the group. Perhaps because he is a gifted photographer (with his work being sold in Sedona area stores), he was patient with my incessant picture taking!
Peter pointed out this green plant around some areas that had water runoff, and said it was the Sedona version of poison ivy. Later, I read that one of the drawbacks of the Long Canyon hike is the presence of poison ivy, so be on the lookout for it! At an Aldo Leopold land conservation workshop I attended ( www.aldoleopold.org ), one of our activities was to do a "Sound Map" in an outdoor area. If one does a Sound Map in Long Canyon, you will be marking numerous instances of hearing the loud "sightseeing helicopters", as this is one of their regular routes to take their passengers. However, those sounds did not bother me on my first desert hiking experience, because it made me think I might could flag one down, if I needed to be rescued! Fortunately, all of our Road Scholar hikers made it back to civilization that day, and we all had "Miles of Smiles" from our Long Canyon adventure! Tricia (p.s. Our leader, Mike, had his promise fulfilled, as the "Y"-shaped stick had not been moved as a makeshift trail marker, during the six hours that went by, from the start to the finish of this hike! PTL!!)