Red Rocks of Sedona, ArizonaIs there a prettier name for a town than Sedona? I think not. As Arizona residents at the time of the birth of our first daughter Molly, Hannah and I regretfully never considered “Sedona” for her first name. Did we drop the ball? Driving to Sedona today in early June, I think we might have. Like Montana and Dakota, Sedona suggest a strong individual, an unbridled spirit, the West personified. Who wouldn’t want such a daughter? Molly is all of these and more. Informed later of our regrets, Molly said, Thank you, thank you, thank you for not naming me Sedona. Another bit of unintended karma along our parenting trail.
Through the heavily forested Oak Creek Canyon, we meander down two lane serpentine Route 89A to Sedona, just an hour’s drive south of Flagstaff.
Passing two of the more popular recreation spots in the area, one at the West Fork Oak Creek Trail in Oak Creek Canyon
and the other at Slide Rock State Park,
we take the rotary just south of town heading down Showalter Road to the parking area for the Munds Wagon Hike. Paying five dollars by credit card to park, we feel a small bit of pride in supporting Arizona’s state parks.
Beginning late morning, we head out under blue skies with very little shade under a blazing sun. Head gear is a must. Following brilliant red sandstone cairns (stacked rocks, in this instance encased in wire mesh cylinders), our trail is nicely marked and easy to follow.
A well-marked trail with others hiking allows me to relax and enjoy myself, unconcerned about getting lost. Wondering if we are on the trail or not can ruin the best of hikes.
After talking with a returning, agreeable twenty-something hiker, we politely decline his offer of multi-grain energy bars. It doesn’t take us ten seconds to realize that we just blew it in a big way. We broke the Third Commandment of the Trail – Accept every offer of food and water appreciatively. We hikers are one, inseparable. We need to do all we can to support and honor each other.
Crossing the dry riverbed again and again, we find the modest elevation gain easy to handle. Ninety minutes later we arrive at a beautiful outcropping at Merry-Go-Round Rock with panoramic views of Bear Wallow Canyon River Valley.
In stones, Will you marry me? greet us from a Romeo to his Juliet or perhaps a Juliet to her Romeo or even a Thelma to her Louise or… Ah, the mysteries of love and the trail.
Heading back to the trailhead, we find pools of cool water to soothe our boot weary feet.
Resting on a rock, I think of the wanderlust legacy bestowed on me by my own Mom and Dad. In the early Sixties, they took their three East Coast suburban kids West in a woody station wagon, where I learned that the world of mountains and deserts beyond New Jersey was not such a dangerous place and developed in me an adventurous spirit (e.g., transfer from the College of Wooster in Ohio as a political science major to Arizona State University for my senior year of college to train to be a teacher).
Once back at the trailhead three hours later with the temperature in the low 90s, we abandon any idea of eating at the open-air picnic tables for it must have been 120 degrees in the sun. Heading home, we find shaded areas along on Oak Creek Canyon to lunch and cool our jets.
Back in Flagstaff, we relax with an evening Cabernet. We recommend the Mund’s Wagon Trail. As always when hiking, know thyself, thy limits, and the conditions. Be prepared.