Day 39 Feb 21 Tuesday Departing SEDONA short drive to FLAGSTAFF (7000ft altitude!)
looking out at the sunrise, bluebirds and hot air ballons over the red rocks of Sedona. A pretty spectacular place even on a dull day. We have been so fortunate in our location here…walk out the back door and into the pristine desert hillside at the foot of Cathedral Rock. White tail deer, javelina and tall desert hares. Flat prickly pear cactus, tall Ocotilla and spiky agaves spot the hill side among twisted and knarly mesquite trees, and lovely blue green junipers. All set against a carpet of red sandy soil, slabs of flat red stone washes (dry creeks) and monolithic monuments that light up with the rising sun. It is so different from our dense, moist mossy green west coast – Still hard to believe.
Did a great morning hike into WestFork canyon trail heading up the Oak Creek canyon road. This would have to be one of the more spectacular roadways in the US. Sedona red rocks at one end and the rim of the Kaibab plateau at the other. From sage bushes and scrubby juniper up to tall stately pines. Almost all my pictures on this walk were on the extra long setting – vertical. It was stunning to have the snow, high noon sun, huge pines and towering cliffs – and everywhere swirling red sandstone.
The cottonwoods and sycamore trees are quite lovely even without colorful leaves. they light up against the backdrop of the canyon cliffs and deep shadows. it is like leafless trees in reverse. light branches against dark. Still some patches of snow and the creek was a little frozen in the slow spots – it is so narrow and deep the sun only gets down here for a couple of hours a day.
Seems fitting that the apex of our journey has waited until Day 40. We have been reading about the facinating geology and formation of the red rocks and canyon environments – but that all slips from your mind as you peer over the edge.
Not much between Williams AZ and the rim of the canyon. These mountains are near Flagstaff at about 12000 ft. As the train rises in altitude it travels from flat sage plains, to hilly juniper shrubs and finally the stone outcroppings and large pine forest nearer the canyon rim. Not a hint of the canyon until you actually walk up to the edge. As many were saying… ‘that’s a pretty impressive hole”.
just a trace of snow remains on the shady side of the canyon and the sun warmed us up in the afternoon (I took my mitts off for that picture!) We did about 3.5 mile walk to the Yavapai Point and back. Not enough time with the train to catch back.
It is hard to write about the experience of the Grand Canyon – now that we have seen other and very different canyons and dramatic landscapes. I suppose the crowds, the commercial aspect and the hype play into everyone’s experience of the Grand. It really is spectacular – the width and depth and proximity of the paths to the edge of a massive drop off is SO stunning. It does make you feel very small. Miniscule as a human in the big picture of time.