I’ve migrated from Boise, Idaho to Phoenix, Arizona for a week, and today, my buddy Anthony and I took a trip out to Sedona, which is about an hour and a half to two hours north of Phoenix. Sedona is a beautiful, scenic place with some of the most astounding colors and tons of hiking trails. Of course, to get the best shots, you need to take the paths less traveled. In our case, that came as more of a surprise than anything when we realized we had lost the trail we were following somewhere around halfway up Bell Rock. I led us around to eventually find it again on the other side of the mountain, but in the process, I captured some fantastic shots that I would have otherwise missed.
As you can see on your left, I didn’t just wander off the beaten path, I scaled near-vertical and vertical rock faces to get the shots I wanted. That particular photo of me was taken by Anthony, who was standing on the path below me, looking up with his cell phone camera. I was maybe ten feet up, at the camera. From the ground below, if I ha to guess, I was at least a few hundred feet up. There was a nice view of the valley from there.
Getting recipes made on the run can be difficult, so thanks for bearing with me as I provide you with scenic, albeit irrelevant, photos of the places I’m visiting. I’ll be back in New York again in about a week, so do stay tuned. I don’t receive much in the way of reader comments on the blog, though some people message me privately, but I don’t know how much you guys like these photo trips, so I try to keep them to a minimum. If you guys do like them and want to give me feedback, I can make a sister blog up and post the photos on there, linking that blog to this one for the sake of convenience. I won’t know, though, unless I hear feedback, so talk to me, lovvies! Anyway, here is my collection of photos from Sedona. I’m up past my bedtime writing this, so I really hope you like the photos. I edited them through sleepy eyes and a body fueled by chicken parm, spaghetti, and symphonic metal (which is surprisingly soothing if you find the right artist and are trying not to fall asleep while doing something). So, without further ado, I present to you: Desert Dreamscapes…
Here is a view of the valley from partway up Bell Rock. The very ruddy rock in the middle of the shot, I believe, is called The Courthouse. The map system provided was a bit confusing.
The hike up Bell Rock wasn’t terribly difficult, but the terrain wasn’t exactly smooth, either. There were occasional ravines to jump over, some of which were large enough to swallow an unwary toddler if mom and dad weren’t paying attention.
The view from the smooth ledge that faced the highway was nice, but it was nothing like what was to come as we wound around the mountain. This, for the record, is approximately where we lost the trail, but there was a clear and navigable path that we continued to follow.
Alright, geologists, jump in here (if you’re out there): if you have a series of smooth, cascading “flows” of sedimentary rock (a tier of which I captured in this shot), what are the chances that they mark the presence of a bygone waterfall? I’ve seen similar formations in active waterfalls, back in New York, but I’m not as familiar with what’s out here in the southwest. I do know it was part of a great inland ocean at one point.
Alright, get ready for a mildly terrifying “wow” moment. See this tree in a thumb? I took this photo from the ground, waaaaaaay at the base of the mountain. I used a 200mm lens to get the shot. Now look at the next photo.
That’s the same tree. I touched the bark. See that burnt orange crooked line waaaaaay down there? That’s the path I was standing on to take the previous photo, and those little black specks are people standing approximately where I was when I took the 200mm shot. Crazy right?
These tangled, twisted trees were a few feet below the one in the thumb. As it turns out, when you combine baffling heights with very steep-sided cliffs, I get kind of dizzy. I sat on a ledge with my back to the mountain and stared at these trees for about five minutes as I tried to regain my balance.
Balance regained and moving on, I found more twisty trees about 20 feet away.
This is one of my favorite shots. I think it should be a postcard: “Scenic Sedona — Dream of the Wild West.” I might have done more dreaming if I wasn’t still slightly dizzy and trying not to get into a wrestling match with prickly pear bushes along the narrowing ledges I was walking on.
I started rounding the corner of Bell Rock when I saw a great panorama opportunity. While I wasn’t expecting to do photographic yoga at stupid heights on this particular day, it did end up happening. I have to say, it was worth the contortionism, in my opinion.
This here is another favorite of mine. Not only did the sun come out and cast a warm glow on the side of this butte (homophonic double entendre, yay!), but the real thrill and pride in the photo come from just how close to death I had to stand to take it. I was fractions of an inch away from the edge of the rock and moments from sliding down a cliff to the valley of great injury, but I hugged the mountain and snapped the photo. I think that says something about my speed at operating a camera on manual.
Death defying photography aside, we continued along the path (and by path, I pretty much mean coyote trail) until we got to a relatively good spot for two people to stand. This was one of the photos I took while standing on the vertical rock face pictured up at the top of the article. Let me tell you: bouldering while a few hundred feet up and lugging a bunch of camera gear is a very… unique experience.
We eventually found the actual path again and began our descent and journey to The Courthouse. On the way, I managed to get some pretty shots of the valley, as the clouds had begun to clear and blue sky started to shine through.
Seeing the snow in the distance was actually a really interesting sight for me. Maybe it was the color contrast, hot against cold, or maybe it was just the surreal vision of snow in the desert, but I found myself utterly captivated by it.
These mountains and their freshly fallen snow were all but hidden from us when we first arrived around 10 AM. Snow clouds crept through the far reaches of the valley, dropping a few wet flakes on us over on Bell Rock. It wasn’t enough to accumulate where we were, nor was it cold enough, but it was enough to make my camera’s filter spotty.
More snow capped canyon shots.
*whistles innocently* Come on. Tell me honestly that the snowy red rocks aren’t pretty cool.
Alright, we were almost back at ground level at this point, and we were headed toward The Courthouse…
…From which we could see may splendid things, such as trees…
…Very snowy red rocks…
…And that someone from Utah has a sense of humor. They hiked all the way up to the near-top of The Courthouse to leave a “Come Visit Utah” sign. Well played. I guess I’ll have to go back and visit the salt flats.
While we were up on The Courthouse and during our voyage back to the parking lot waaaaaaay over yonder, the sun started to really come out and light up the mountains nicely. Take a look:
That’s Bell Rock. It looks more like an overturned funnel to me, but I’m not about to start throwing stones.
According to Anthony, it had been raining like crazy up until the day I flew in to Phoenix, so there were a number of rather impressive flows of water along our hike. Also, here’s one of those toddler-traps I was talking about earlier. That ravine is at least three feet deep.
For my mom, I had to take a picture of a cool-looking gnarly tangle of branches. Here you go, mom, your very own Sedona Medusa Tangle.
I established earlier that I thought these twisty trees were cool. Does anyone happen to know what kind of tree they are or why they look that way (split, gnarled, kind of like their trunks are made of dried pahoehoe that decided to sprout leaves)? My guess was fire, but that’s just a guess.
On the trail back to the car, looking back, the colors had really started to pop on the rocks.
I had never seen so much rust color. Sedona is kind of a terrestrial Super Mars with foliage. Maybe if we terraformed Mars, this is what it would look like.
And of course, no park is truly complete without its lovers’ bench nestled underneath a billowing tree.
If you’re interested, here are a few more distance shots of the major rock formations in Sedona.
I hope you enjoyed my gallery, and I promise I’ll be back on track again next week. I think my mom wants to make some kind of chocolate-involved pie. I’m always down for anything involving chocolate.