Buster decided to sit this one out. He’s 13, and we weren’t sure he wanted to go digging around in a cave.Doesn’t look like much from here, but come closer …It goes almost straight down, into the cave.A few intrepid pups (and their companion) hiked the cave. Note the booties, which protect their paws from sharp rocks.A view down the cave. We knew to bring extra layers, since it can be cold here (32-40 degrees F). In July, isn’t that the point of this hike?Lava cave floor. My husband Bryon helped me over the rough spots. In spite of my excellent trail shoes I twisted my ankle a few times. (Luckily nothing serious.)At the split. “Stay to the right,” we were told. “It’ll be easier.”“Easier” is relative. Alex is 6’3″. (Even I had to crab-walk this.)A view of the ceiling.A second view of the ceiling. The cave changes to reflect humidity and other ambient conditions.A Rorschach test. (Not really–a view of the walls.)The sign says, “DUCK”. In case you needed the reminder.Grafitti at the turnaround point of the hike. This is supposed to be the warmest point of the hike. I couldn’t tell, since I had already taken off and tied my sweat jacket around my waist.I wasn’t sure about the significance of the boat, either.Mold growing from litter left by prior hikers.
Although Buster was probably sore from the previous day’s hike, he needed no coaxing to join us for our next outing.The trail is also known as the Lamar Haines Loop, named after a local leader in the conservation movement.Mushrooms make themselves at home here. I don’t know whether or not these are poisonous.Ferns and aspens along the way. Remains of an old cabin.Spring house near the old cabin.Note the petroglyphs on the top of the wall where the stones meet overhead.Buster, ready to go.Tree bark.One of the locals.Vintage graffiti.
The Yarnell Hill Fire burned throughout the week, and flags remained at half-staff throughout Arizona. As we hiked through Lockett Meadow, it was not hard to think about the sense of loss that will remain after the press attention subsides.The Schultz Fire, Arizona’s largest wildfire in 2010, burned over 15,000 acres. The eastern slopes of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff still show fire damage.Sunset Crater is in the distance. Monsoon clouds overhead, but not enough rain here.The trees are still fragile. The aspen grove of the Inner Basin had been spared because the firefighters worked so hard to save it.
“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!
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.”
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.”
It is possible to visit all of the pueblos in a day, but we made two trips so we didn’t feel rushed. This is an even better idea if you want to visit in the summer and have the time. Bryon suggests that, because the days are longer, visit some of them in the morning, spend lunch in Flagstaff, and come back in the afternoon when it’s a little cooler. (Keep in mind that the Visitors’ Center closes at 5:30 p.m.–at least during the winter–so plan accordingly.)
Armed with a national parks pass, we set off to see how far we could go. Arizonans looking for winter sport amusements were heading for Snowbowl or Wing Mountain. Bryon and I wanted only a break from the excitement of getting our older son moved into a larger apartment so his younger brother could join him and start college. After a few days of wrangling with the registrar’s office and the apartment manager, why not blow off some steam at the nearest volcano?
As we predicted, we had the place (almost) to ourselves, encountering two families with children and a Forest Service ranger making her rounds.
“Hey, let’s go to that town where that guy from that band who started a winery …”
If that doesn’t ring a bell with you either, don’t worry: we had to consult the Font of Knowledge (i.e. Google) for something more specific. All we had to do was program the Garmin, and we were ready to go.
We left most of the snow behind in Flagstaff and decided to recharge before hiking around the town.
The Flatiron Cafe had opened that day under new management. Thanks to Jen and Amy, we enjoyed two lovely cups of cappuccino and some fresh carrot and ginger soup.
Happily resuscitated, we headed back out to explore.
We found Nelly Bly, a shop that sells kaleidoscopes and art. Just think–over a hundred years ago, kaleidoscopes were considered cutting-edge home media.