After a most excellent morning hike on Sedona's Hog Trails and a pizza lunch, I was ready for one final adventure. My friends Hans and Lisa picked a short but sweet trek, a trip up the Doe Mountain Trail.
Located NW of Sedona, a mere 5 miles from town, the trailhead didn't take long to reach (navigating Sedona city traffic was the most time consuming part!)
|Red rock views as I climbed|
Judging by the large number of vehicles clogging the trailhead parking lot and overflowing onto the road, this was a popular hike. Hans found a wide spot in the road for his truck, and after a re-application of sunscreen and quick potty stop, we were off.
Doe Mountain was a low, flat-topped mesa rising above the desert floor. A short trail ascended 400 feet in 0.7 miles. The relatively moderate distance and elevation gain meant my friends and I were never alone as we huffed up the switchbacks. People of all ages and fitness levels traversed this rocky path.
|Nearing the top|
By now it was mid afternoon, and the sun felt very hot indeed. Beating down upon my head, this cold-blooded mossy Oregonian was feeling a mite bit overheated. I made many photo (aka rest) stops to snap images of the magnificent scenery unfolding the higher I climbed (and to sip a wee bit of water).
The cliffs and canyons of Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness were visible across the valley and their views got better with every step upward.
|It's a long ways down|
At the very top of Doe Mountain's trail, Hans and Lisa paused for a quick rest.
|Lisa and Hans take a breather|
I took the opportunity to grab a photo. Cheese, guys! (Great pic of them isn't it?)
|One of many cairns|
Legs properly rested, my friends and I began to traverse the 1.3 mile trail around the mesa's edge. Doe Mountain's summit was a wide, flat plain created from a layer of erosion resistant cap rock. After climbing up the steep mountainside I was ready for some level walking.
|This cairn was particularly tall!|
The trails were littered with dozens of tall rock cairns. Although some of them were probably intended for wayfinding, I think the great majority were just impromptu artwork.
|Approaching the mesa's rim|
I followed Hans and Lisa across the red, dusty mesa top to the opposite side.
And, boy oh boy what a magnificent vista awaited! Many of Sedona's prominent landmarks were visible.
|These people had a death wish|
Although the edge dropped nearly vertical several hundred feet to the valley below, it didn't stop a few adventurous (or extremely foolish) people from perching on some precipitous rock outcrops.
|Peeping over the edge|
In the above photo, Lisa looks closer to the edge than she really was - but she was close enough to make Hans and I nervous.
|More wide-open panoramas|
Oh were the views fabulous! I could see why so many people climbed up here.
|Cactus right to the edge|
I lagged far behind my friends, snapping copious photographs. I wanted to remember everything.
|Old, gnarled tree|
The multi-tiered sandstone walls, the colorful cactus, the old gnarled weather-beaten trees, the green juniper bushes. All were captured on my memory card.
|Just soaking in the views|
I caught up with Hans and Lisa on the mesa's opposite side. They were perched on a rock overlooking Sedona. The large red monoliths surrounding town rose in the distance and I enjoyed this different view of the valley.
|Lots of scenery shots|
Then it was time to retrace our steps back across the mesa, down the winding path and back to our waiting truck. As we drove away, I bid these beautiful red rock mountains a silent goodbye.
|Sedona from another angle|
While on Doe Mountain, I struck up a conversation with a man from Seattle, also armed with a camera. He'd come out to Arizona by himself and was also visiting both Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We compared notes about what sights we'd seen and chatted at length about the incredible beauty of the area, and the merits of solo travel. Although I'd been apprehensive about traveling here on my own, the man's enthusiasm made me grateful I'd listened to my inner voice, taken the leap and made this journey.
A huge thank you to Hans and Lisa for introducing me to this wonderful corner of the world. I had such a fabulous time, I don't know how I will ever repay you! Thank you for sharing your home, being amazing tour guides, providing delicious meals (and beer!), and putting up with my constant photo taking. Hopefully we can meet up again in the future for another great hike or two. (And of course more beer drinking!)
Please check out Hans and Lisa's travel blog at Metamorphosis Road.
And if you've missed any of my Arizona travel posts, catch up with the following links:
Grand Canyon, the Introduction
Critters of the Canyon
Grand Canyon - Of Hikes and Mule Trains
Grand Canyon - Quest for a Sunset
Grand Canyon - Sunrise and Desert View
Sedona - Hiking the Hiline Trail
Sedona - National Monuments Part One
Sedona - National Monuments Part Two
Sedona - the Hangover Trail
Sedona - Chicken Point and the Hog Trails