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West Fork Trail

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“It’s a good day for a hike.” Bryon got behind the wheel and we headed toward Sedona. Since we had to be back in town for business later in the day, it had to be nearby and/or quick. The West Fork Trail was perfect!

We pulled off the road so I could take this picture. West Fork Trail is just down the road from here.

We pulled off the road so I could take this picture. West Fork Trail is just down the road from here.

Apple and pear trees in the orchard, waiting for spring.
Apple and pear trees in the orchard, waiting for spring.

Ferns carpet the orchard floor, which is also covered with snow.

Ferns carpet the orchard floor, which is also covered with snow.

Don't be fooled by the sun--it was cold out here.
Don’t be fooled by the sun–it was cold out here.

Remains of an abandoned house. Other walls are covered with ivy.

Remains of an abandoned house. Other walls are covered with ivy.

Heading toward the trailhead.

Heading toward the trailhead.

After seeing sun and snow in the orchard, I did not expect to encounter a wall of ice as we started walking down the trail.

After seeing sun and snow in the orchard, I did not expect to encounter a wall of ice as we started walking down the trail.

Bryon, not easily dwarfed by the surroundings.

Bryon, not easily dwarfed by the surroundings.

The water was clear and cold.

The water was clear and cold.

Down the creek the ice was thick enough for us to cross from one side to the other.

Down the creek the ice was thick enough for us to cross from one side to the other.

Crossing the creek on the trail the second time we came here.
Crossing the creek on the trail the second time we came here.

Did I want to look through a macro lens or a wide angle one? Luckily I did not have to choose just one.

Did I want to look through a macro lens or a wide angle one? Luckily I did not have to choose just one.

If you look carefully you can see that beavers have been here--the gnawed branches give them away.

If you look carefully you can see that beavers have been here–the gnawed branches give them away.

Pine trees and yucca plants, an unlikely winter pairing.
Pine trees and yucca plants, an unlikely winter pairing.

It's hard not to keep looking up at the cliffs along the way.
It’s hard not to keep looking up at the cliffs along the way.

The view from the start of the trail (or the end of it).
The view from the end of the trail (or the start of it).

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Follow That Vortex!

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Sedona is known for its cluster of vortexes (vortices?), or sites of energy concentration. Those who come to Boynton Canyon may seek the Kachina Woman or the spires. Bryon and I were not so ambitious:  we pointed to the red rocks in the distance and decided, “Let’s go that way.”

At the start of the hike, we crossed a dry creek bed. During summer monsoons, this could flood.

At the start of the hike, we crossed a dry creek bed. During summer monsoons, this could flood.

Desert plants coexist with pine, even in the snow.

Desert plants coexist with pine, even in the snow.

As we headed up the mountain we could see the sandstone layers of the mesa.

As we headed up the mountain we could see the sandstone layers of the mesa.

Is the Kachina Woman here? We don't see her.

Is the Kachina Woman here? We don’t see her.

Small stone formations mark the path to follow. I don't know who built them.
Small stone formations mark the path to follow. I don’t know who built them.

One of the neighbors came through. Deer perhaps?

One of the neighbors came through. Deer perhaps?

The spires are on the right.

The spires are on the right.

Getting close to the base of the cliff.
Getting close to the base of the cliff.

Distant mesas.
Distant mesas.

Under the cliffs. I think we're about half a mile from Devil's Bridge at this point.

Under the cliffs. I think we’re about half a mile from Devil’s Bridge at this point.

Sheets and layers of rock.
Sheets and layers of rock. At this point, I couldn’t tell you whether I had encountered a metaphysical phenomenon. I only knew that when I looked up, my head began to spin.

Getting up and back may have made my head spin, but the views were worth it!
Getting up and back may have made me almost dizzy, but the views were worth it!

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Walnut Canyon

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Even the ranger admitted that the name of the trail is somewhat of a misnomer:  “They call it the Island Trail, but it’s shaped like a peninsula.”

Here's what we saw as we headed into the canyon.

Here’s what we saw as we headed into the canyon. The Visitors’ Guide is on the right.

Desert plants surviving in the snow.

Desert plants surviving in the snow.

I can only imagine the classified ads for these places:  "1-3 BR, Great views. Must see to believe. Call for appointment."

I can only imagine the classified ads for these places: “1-3 BR, Great views. Must see to believe. Call for appointment.”

"... a stratum of rock, softer than those above, had been hollowed out by the action of time ... The overhanging cliff made a roof two hundred feet thick. The hard stratum was an everlasting floor. Thus the houses stood along in a row; like the buildings in a city block, or like a barracks."-Willa Cather, on a visit to Walnut Canyon in 1912

“… a stratum of rock, softer than those above, had been hollowed out by the action of time … The overhanging cliff made a roof two hundred feet thick. The hard stratum was an everlasting floor. Thus the houses stood along in a row; like the buildings in a city block, or like a barracks.”
-Willa Cather, on a visit to Walnut Canyon in 1912

Heading down into the canyon.

Heading down into the canyon.

One of the dwellings.
One of the dwellings.

Mormon Tea. This plant is a member of the ephedra genus and was used by native tribes as a beverage and medicinal tonic.

Mormon Tea. This plant is a member of the ephedra genus and was used by native tribes as a beverage and medicinal tonic.

The trail was partially closed due to weather and safety conditions. However, we were able to look inside.

The trail was partially closed due to weather and safety conditions. However, we were able to look inside.

The view from inside.

The view from inside.

Bryon, who is 6'5", provides a sense of scale.

Bryon, who is 6’5″, provides a sense of scale.

A view across the canyon.
A view across the canyon.

As we made our way back up the path I thought of Willa Cather and the tourists who had come a hundred years before us. They had been more adventurous to come this way, unencumbered by modern conveniences, untethered by technology. Even so:  we had nothing on the communities who had lived here hundreds of years  before us. Their great grandchildren had long since died or moved on. I understood why:  as soon as I made the vertical climb back to the Visitors' Center, I had to stop and rest before crawling back to the car.

As we made our way back up the path I thought of Willa Cather and the tourists who had come a hundred years before us. They had been more adventurous to come this way, unencumbered by modern conveniences, untethered by technology. Even so: we had nothing on the communities who had lived here hundreds of years before us. Their great grandchildren had long since died or moved on. I understood why: as soon as I made the vertical climb back to the Visitors’ Center, I had to stop and rest before crawling back to the car.