Our drive to Sedona up the I17 felt uphill all the way. Instead of going straight into Sedona we took the 260 to the 89A as our resort (The Sedona Summit) was on the west side of Sedona. Our jaw dropped at our first view of Thunder Mountain. Overlooking the whole valley it felt like somewhere you should go to worship and thank for taking care of this little valley. No picture or photograph could describe how breathtaking this mountain is and it feels like it can been seem from everywhere in the valley. Sedona has done a wonderful job of protecting the valley, I didn’t see any buildings that were over 2 to 3 stories and they were all the colour of the rocks so they blended into the valley.
Right outside our resort were multiple hiking trails, we decided to take the Girdner Trail to watch the sunset. Holy mackeral Thunder Mountain looked like it was on fire as the sun touched different parts of it. How could anything so breathtaking become so spine-tingling. I was seriously overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. Hard to imagine that anything could be as wonderful as Thunder Mountain. 🙂
Coming from Ontario, I found the trees and vegetation a little bland at first, but when you stopped to look there were some beautiful plants and trees living on minimal water. These plants are so hardy and so full of moisture that they need to store in order to survive. Some of the trees look like they have been dead for 100s of years but they still stand tall, feeding nutrients back into the land.
The next day we wake up ready to go on our next 2 hikes – SugarLoaf and the Airplane Loop/Vortex Trails. Jim and I are not early risers, so all the warnings about walking in the morning or late afternoon kinda fell on deaf ears, we did take lots of water. We started on SugarLoaf with lots of layers, it was freezing. By the time we were half way through I was down to my camisole. The paths were well laid out and not badly marked. We did think we couldn’t get lost, but not true, on the way back to the parking lot we almost ended up in someone’s backyard. Oops, retrace and turn left instead of right.
The climb up to the top of SugarLoaf was so worth it. We met a lady from the area there and she was telling us how the ladies on full moon nights would come up to the top with their yoga mats and wine. Sounded wonderful, not sure I would want to walk down after drinking wine LOL. As you looked around SugarLoaf there were great views of the CoffeePot, and a rock I thought looked like a Navajo Chief with his arms crossed looking out over his land.
This hiking is a hungry making activity, we headed into town for a lunch and walk around before we headed back to our resort for a quick break before heading over to the Airplane Loop. We thought we would do it to coincide with the sunset. A number of people seemed to have this same idea. The first time we came to Sedona we stayed at the Sky Ranch Lodge on top of the Mesa, we arrived in the black dark and had a scary mountain ride to get to it. In the morning we felt like we were in a John Wayne movie, when we opened the curtains, guess what, there was Thunder Mountain. Our feeling about the beauty of it hasn’t changed.
The mesa has changed a wee bit since then. The lodge is still there and just as quaint, but now there is a viewing spot and a giant parking lot. $3. We parked and started on our hike. It was a lovely pathway with great views of the whole valley. At the bottom was the “vortex” – one of the areas where you can feel the earth’s energy. I was breathing too hard to hear anything other than my own heart by the time I climbed up it. People were already securing their spot for the sunset. While there we watched a group of hikers (our age) head off on another trail. All of a sudden we heard a scream a lady had twisted her ankle, then another scream when she realized her legs were dangling over the edge. Thankfully everything was OK, so Jim and I continued our walk.
I had read a number of stories on the Airplane Loop and there was always this warning about this very narrow part of the trail, no kids, no vertigo, don’t do it if you are scared of heights. So far I had been great!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Off we went, Jim went skipping ahead. Maybe 300 feet into the trail, I look up and Jim is about 25 feet in front of me, I look down, I say “how did you get over there”. Just walk along that ledge. Are you NUTS!!!!!!!!!!. Well OK with my overly competitive nature off I go. One step, two steps, I can’t do this. OK lean over and put your hands on the slippery rock and crab crawl across. I look between my legs and all I see is sky. I freeze. Jim says what are you doing, it’s no problem, this is the easy one. WHAT there’s another one. Now I am stuck. I literally can’t move. My breathing is accelerating, I am ready to call for a helicopter. Jim decides to walk back to help. DON’T TOUCH ME. I am now looking at him on this tiny ledge behind me. Are you crazy, move away from ME, if you touch me I might push you over. He walks past me, I finally control my breathing, I think I started worry about all the people on the vortex taking pictures of my butt stuck up in the air and posting them on instagram helped calm me down. I crab walk back, and wisely decide to just retrace our hike down. I am laughing at it now, but boy at the time, not fun.
By the time we retraced our steps back up to the viewing spot, the parking lot was full. People were pulling in on 2 wheels trying not to miss the sunset. We looked at the crowd and looked at the view and decided to head back to our resort where the view was stunning. A busy day, a great night to order a pizza in with Uber Eats.