The weather has cleared up and since we know Steve won’t have our fridge part today, we head off on another hike in a new direction, just northeast of uptown Sedona.
Using my map and our hiking guide, I have crafted an 8 ¼ mile hike to make up for the lost week. We head in the Munds Wagon Trail, which is listed as an in-and-out hike of 2.8 miles each way with nearly 1,000 feet of elevation. I’ve got us going in on that trail but instead of turning around and coming back, we’re picking up the Cow Pies Trail (named after some big rock formations) and then the Hangover Loop, which is billed as a “hard” hike that is “extremely difficult in places.” Plus there’s another 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Sounds like just the ticket for us.
The Munds Wagon Trail is gentle with ups and downs. We’re in a fairly wide canyon and can see red rocks on one side and mountains on the other.
It doesn’t take us much more than an hour to get to the junction with Cow Pies. Shortly after we make the turn, we are hiking up the red rocks to an area with lots of black lava rocks scattered about. Turning we can see the caldera, or rim of the once-upon-a-time volcano, behind us. It’s a very clear semi-circle, reminding me a little bit of Diamondhead in Oahu.
The lava area is supposed to be another “power vortex” area but all we feel is a strong breeze. Maybe that’s what constitutes a vortex?
We continue on, now we’re on the Hangover Loop Trail and we wonder out loud why they call it the “hangover loop?” Is it because there are steep drop-offs and narrow ledges, as our book says we’ll be traversing, and you wouldn’t want to do them with a hangover?
The views are pretty. We can see the canyon and caldera even better, but since we’re also up on the red rocks (and climbing a bit), we get neat views off the rock formations directly below us. Eventually we head up diagonally on the red rocks to a saddle, where we can now see off to the northwest and Midgely Bridge. We enjoy the saddle and then continue walking, now on the other side of the butte from where we were and we can see the steep dropoffs. We’re not worried but we are constantly marveling because this trail is open to bicycles. There is no way I could bicycle this without careening off the rocks into a canyon below.
The trail takes us to a spot where the red rocks “hang over” the trail – ahh, we’ve found it. Once again, Sedona has proven to be very literal.
The trail keeps going, with great views and eventually we come all the way around the butte and, oh my, we catch the breeze that has now grown into a strong, gusty wind. We’re pretty high up and it’s a little intense. The wind is strong and, as we look for the white blazes marking the trail, we realize we are going steeply downhill. I sit down at one point because the gusts are just too strong. Walt says he doesn’t think he’s ever hiked in such strong winds. I have, on top of a Haystack Mountain in the Adirondacks, where a gust caught the back of the hood on my rain jacket and lifted me off my feet and across the top of the mountain. I landed in some shrubbery, scraped but otherwise unharmed but more than a little shaken up.
We manage the down portion ok (the pictures don’t really show how steep it was) and then continued our way, winding around the butte until we reconnected with the Munds Wagon Trail. From there we only had a mile and half back to the car.
It was a great day, despite the wind.