I owe Walt a vortex where I’m not cranky so we head for the Airport Loop. The vortex is just off the parking lot so we head out for our hike first. It’s just 4 ½ miles and not a lot of elevation gain but I’m surprised to find that the airport is not located on low, flat ground but is perched on top of a mesa. We start off hiking the east side of the mesa, below the airport, with great views of Bell and Cathedral rocks.
As we get to the far end of the airport (we can see the airport fence now above us), we are going up in elevation, then down, then back up before turning out to Tabletop Point for our first look at Pyramid Rock. Just as with Submarine Rock, there was no doubting which formation was Pyramid Rock once we saw it.
We drink in the views, take a few selfies, and head back down the trail. We’re now on the west side of the airport and we can see planes landing. It’s not a big commercial airport, so the planes are just little 2- and 4-seater types.
After about 90 minutes, we’re back at our car, dumping our packs before we head up to the vortex.
It’s a beautiful red-rock formation. There’s a few people (but no flute player) and the sun is shining. I plop down in the sunshine, pull my hat over my eyes and assume my favorite “happy baby” yoga pose to stretch out my back and toast a bit.
On our way down to the car, I ask Walt if he felt the “energy” of the vortex. “I felt a nice breeze,” he replies.
“I did too. And the sun was very nice. But it was better two days ago on the mesa, where it was just us.”
A “zero” day
We’ve settled into a nice pattern of hiking 3 days a week (weekdays) and going to the gym and (sometimes) playing golf on the off days so that’s what we do today, just head to the gym, smack (and lose) some golf balls on a nice sunny course with red-rock views.
I had read about Devil’s Bridge, a natural rock arch formation that hikers can not only walk up to but also walk on. Unfortunately, I had thought that we wouldn’t be able to hike there because the trailhead is down a very rough forest service road that our convertible cannot manage. When I was re-reading the directions in my guidebook, I saw that there is an alternative parking area that sits just before the paved road ends. It’s going to be about a 6-mile out-and-back hike, which is fine.
When we arrive at the trailhead, the road nearby is filled with cars; apparently there are a lot more people interested in walking on Devil’s Bridge than there are high-clearance cars. We’ve arrived at a good time, when the early-bird hikers are leaving so we manage to get a good parking spot in the lot. We set off, being cautious of the mountain bikers who pass us on the trail. We always get off the trail for them.
The hike is easy, through red rocks and junipers with gorgeous views of the canyons and mountains all around us. Although there were dozens of cars, there aren’t a lot of people on this trail, which is the longest way to get to the bridge. Most people just hike the forest service road, which is shorter but also dustier. We’re enjoying ourselves; the views are beautiful.
When we finally hit the nearest parking area for Devil’s Bridge, we are just about a mile from it and now there are plenty of people. I’m amused to see a little white, fluffy dog whose entire bottom half is tinged rusty pink from the red-rock dust. We pass people and dogs of all sorts and I’m starting to get nervous. I hadn’t thought how busy this might be. Too late now.
We start climbing a little bit and make good time until we get to a steep pitch. There are stairs more or less carved out of the rocks but there’s no handrails and it’s intimidating, especially for non-hikers on their way back down. We stop and wait while a very slow foursome mostly sits and scoots their way past us.
There’s a whole bunch of people waiting to come down but I call up to the next couple waiting in line, asking if they would mind waiting while we come up. They ignore us and while the guy makes it down pretty easily, the woman with him is a bit slow.
“I guess not,” I remark out loud as the guy steps next to us.
“There’s a lot of people waiting to come down,” the guy says.
“We know that,” says Walt (much to my surprise, he’s usually the quiet one in these situations), “that’s why we wanted to come up and get past all of you, so you can come down.”
“I’ll wait,” says the next woman on top waiting to come down. We thank her and scramble up the rocks in about 12 seconds.
“You’re quick,” says one waiting guy as I stride past him.
Once past that section, it takes us no time to get up to the bridge, where we are in the shade and it is blissfully cool. We wait till some girls leave, then Walt motions me out to the bridge so he can take my picture before we trade places. The bridge is pretty wide on the one end but then narrows to less than 6 feet, which seems wide until you realize that we are standing about 50 feet up in the air. A fall would be extremely painful.
We head back down, navigating the rock staircase with ease (having hiking poles and knowing how to use them makes it so simple) and stop off at a couple more vista points for pictures and a snack before heading back out the same way we came in.
It’s one of those hikes that I’m glad we did but one we’d only do again if we had friends we wanted to take there. Way too crowded for me.