Is there a prettier name for a town than Sedona? I think not. As Arizona residents at the time of the birth of our first child Molly, Hannah and I never seriously considered Sedona for her first name. Did we drop the ball? I think not. Molly is a beautiful name.
Driving to Sedona today, I wonder if we did. Like Montana and Dakota, Sedona suggests a strong individual, an unbridled spirit, the West personified. Who wouldn’t want such a daughter? Informed later of our musings, Molly said 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 route 89A to Sedona, just an hour’s drive south from Flagstaff. Passing two of the more popular shorter hikes in the area, one at the West Fork Oak Creek Trail 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 Mund’s Wagon hike. Paying five dollars by credit card to park, we love supporting America’s state parks.
Beginning late morning, we head out under blue skies with very little shade. 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 other hikers allows me to relax and enjoy myself, unconcerned about getting lost. Wondering if one is 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 offers 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 repeatedly, 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 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. Forty-five years ago, they took their three East Coast kids West in a woody station wagon, where I learned that the wilderness world beyond New Jersey was not such a dangerous place; my adventurous spirit was born.
Thank you, Mom and Dad.