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North Texas

Vermillion Vortex

For all the times I've been through the Southwest, I've never been to the Grand Canyon. Now spending over a week in Arizona, and with access to a car, I figured I'd finally get that one scratched off the bucket list. Copperhead, who's from these parts, claimed Sedona was even better, so we made the trip to Red Rock Country, driving through a thunderstorm on the way there.

The weather was bad enough that we weren't sure if we'd get a hike in at all on our first day, and perhaps we'd instead do something indoors in the town of Sedona. New Age believers hold that this spot is a vortex, a place where energies come together. Supposedly, the entire area is saturated with a positive energy that can be noticed in a subtle way, but finding one of the specific vortex sites, where the energy is the strongest, can affect you greatly, perhaps for days. Or so they say. Hiking anywhere pretty does that for me.

As such, there are a host of unusual businesses in Sedona. For a town of 10,000, it has an unusual amount of yoga and meditation studios, along with a slew of folk art galleries and local museums. There are places you can get your aura photographed. I've heard Rick James's is orange?

Nevertheless, the skies cleared in the afternoon, and we made our way towards a trail for a sunset hike. Copperhead's dad rides choppers, and one of his biker buddies recommended a particular hike, especially for the sunset hour. It just so happened to be near where we were planning on camping. And he wasn't wrong about the scenery.

After the hike, we drove out on a gravel road, where dispersed camping is permitted. Again, I don't understand why this isn't more popular. It's free, as opposed to hotels in town, which start at $100 for the cheapest thing and go up from there. And there's something exciting about wandering through the wilderness and picking your favorite spot to camp for the night. Copperhead has an eye for quality and picked an excellent spot: flat, sheltered from wind by some of the few trees nearby, though marked with a few rocks embedded in the ground. We spent a couple minutes chucking them into the brush and set up camp.

We decided to walk away from our tent for dinner, so we didn't leave a scent nearby. As we shared a sitting rock, eating watermelon and sandwiches, we saw a thunderstorm rolling in, from directly in front of us. We sat and watched the lightning, too far away to make a sound, like a silent fireworks display. Behind us, a pack of coyotes was howling. And to our left, in the far distance, we saw a meteor streaking towards the Earth! All we needed was a volcano erupting to our right, and maybe an earthquake right in the middle of it all.

The storm hit us just as we were walking back to our tent. Since we were able to drive up to our site, we used the big one this time.

Perfect weather the next day, though cloudy in the morning. Soon enough, the sun came out and it warmed up, reminding us we were in the desert after all.

For our final hike, we decided to do Bear Mountain, from which you can clearly see San Francisco Peak, near Flagstaff, 30 miles away. The hike was long and rather challenging, but more than rewarding.

I'm particularly fond of seeing the colorful layers in the rocks, knowing they tell a story about the history of the land. To think that thousands, if not millions of years of history pass, and all that's left is a discolored stripe in a rock.

And when the shadows add to the dramatic colors, you get quite a scene.

After only a day and a half, we had to turn around and head back to Phoenix. There's so much more to do; I'll definitely be coming back one day. Preferably with a mountain bike! Two hours of sweet lemonade, strawberries, and Allman Brothers songs later, we were back in the Senora Desert.

The Grand Canyon was still calling...

Apr 09, 2016
from Southwest 2016

I am a carbon-based life form.


Read about Coyote's adventure with his father in Central Texas. Music, food, wheels, family, all the finer things in life.

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