Days 225-227 – Flagstaff, Golf and Our Best Hike

It’s the weekend, which means no hiking for us. Just too crowded in most places.

Instead we head up to Flagstaff for a day trip. It’s a gorgeous drive up on a fast, winding road with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet, which makes it a bit chillier than Sedona but it’s sunny and still warm.

We find an REI so we can re-stock a few items, then a used bookstore so I can re-stock (I tend to read non-fiction history of science/exploration and could barely find any non-fiction in the two Sedona used book stores, never mind my specific genre). Starlight Books provides me with several books – one on feathers, one on 18th century exploration, etc. – and I’m thrilled. We find a jeweler to get Walt’s watch fixed; he lost a pin on the trail and needs a new battery. Then I Google “best lunch Flagstaff” and we wind up at Lumberyard Brewing Co. for a really tasty lunch.

We’re too stuffed for dessert but that doesn’t stop me from stopping at a bakery I’d noticed for a few treats “for later.” We locked them in the trunk so they’d actually make it all the way home.

All in all, a great “zero” day.

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Golfing the short course

We’ve looked at a couple of golf courses nearby but the first one we’re trying is an executive course. Par 3s are really more my speed (I hit horribly) and Walt’s content with an easy short course. We especially like that they’re willing to just let us play as a twosome instead of pairing us up into a foursome. I’m very intimidated by playing with other people even on my best day and we haven’t played about 6 weeks so today is not going to be a good golf day.

The course is very nice and we each have some good hits although my putting leaves much to be desired.

Doesn’t matter. It’s hard to complain in 67-degree sunshine while walking a pretty golf course.

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Brins Mesa Trail

In our quest to keep hitting new areas to hike around Sedona, we’ve come to Uptown Sedona and veered west. The Brins Mesa Trail goes about 8 miles up and over the mesa and then down the other side.

However our guidebook says we can go up the mesa, veer right on a side trail and come up to a high point with great views.

The views are pretty nice just from the top of the mesa, looking out over Sedona and the mountains and red rocks but we continue, first to an outcropping where we take pictures and then back on the trail to the knoll overlook.

While hiking across the mesa, we can’t tell exactly where our knoll is. We can see mountains but we can’t see any sign of a trail to get to the top and they look a lot higher than the extra 300 feet of elevation that our book says we’re doing. But we know we’re on a trail so we keep going.

Soon we run into a group of people coming down from the (still unseen) knoll. One of the hikers asks if we’re going to the top and when we say “yes” he tells us that the view is great, which is exactly what we want to hear. (BTW, we never ask people “how much further” it is; it’s so subjective and it doesn’t matter anyway, we’re going.)

It’s actually just a little bit further until the path narrows with scratchy shrubs on either side and we can tell we’re headed upward. Then we come to some rocks and start up them. They are gorgeous red rocks that have been sculpted beautifully by the wind. Some are like steps, others remind me of red-rock versions of the big fungi with rippled edges that grow out of trees back East.

We get up to what I think is the high spot and Walt takes my picture but then as I’m waiting for him to ascend, I turn and see that the rocks keep going up a bit behind me. There’s no marked trail but the wind-sculpted rocks make it easy to pick a path all the way until I’m clearly at the highest point we’re going to get to today. Another dozen feet back and the rocks end abruptly in a sheer cliff.

The huge mountains that we have been looking at are on the other side of this little canyon, still looming over us.

Walt comes up and there’s no one but the two of us. We take pictures, explore (safely) the drop-offs, sit and eat a snack and just enjoy the views. We pull out the map to try to figure out exactly what we’re looking at. We can tell Cathedral Rock in the southern distance and I think Dry Creek Canyon to our north.

We can’t help ourselves from commenting over and over how spectacular the scenery is.

Eventually we see another couple heading our way and decide to let them have the same solitude we’ve so enjoyed and start heading down.

It’s an easy hike to the bottom.

To cap off our best hike yet, we stop at Oak Creek Espresso and Bakery, whose sign says also announces it carries “gelato.” It’s actually a homemade ice cream and it’s a yummy post-hike treat.

Days just don’t get better than this.

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