Sedona. You so pretty.
Let me start off by saying, never rent a car from Fox Brothers Rental car, especially the Phoenix airport location. They just did the absolute most while not getting anything done at the same time. How do you ask? Easy, by giving me all the wrong information and then trying to switch my Jeep Wrangler reservation to a Prius! A freakin PRIUS guys! Hey Fox Brothers did you think maybe I wouldn't notice? I did. I reserved a Jeep Wrangler because I knew we would be camping in the backcountry, and a Prius would have undoubtedly had us stuck like chuck. So thanks Alamo for saving the day and getting us the car I originally booked. Without you, Eric and I could still be sitting on a back road at Monument Valley.
Once we had our Jeep, we headed off to Sedona. After making a quick pit-stop for tacos at Speedy Street Tacos down the street from the airport. OMG guys, these were the tacos I live for! Quick & fresh with all the unlimited toppings to your heart's desire. Arizona was welcoming us with tacos because it knew deep down Eric and I came [*hand-clap] to [*hand-clap] eat!
Once adequately stuffed with steak tacos, salsa and pickled onions we jumped on the road for our 2+ hour drive to Sedona. We arrived at our campsite at Manazita Campground around 1 am, exhausted. We threw together our tents and dove headfirst into our bags. I'm usually the driver on trips. I love driving. Driving is fun, but after a 4-hour flight then arguing with the rental car people for 2 hours and the sudden energy rush from my taco? Maaaaan, it took me out.
Fast forward past lots of snoring to us waking up to a beautiful sunny morning. Our campground was situated next to the creek, and in my exhaustion the previous night I failed to notice. I took a moment to allow Eric to convince himself it was worth leaving his warm bag for coffee, to sit next to the creek and watch the sun peak over the canyon. The oranges, reds, and golds in the canyon surrounding us began to dance in the sunlight. I thought to myself "do the locals get used to this beauty or do they look at it in fresh amazement with every single day?"
It was my second time in Arizona, and I knew the state had so many beautiful sites to visit. So naturally, I jam-packed as much as I possibly could into the short 3 days we would be there. Starting with a full day exploring Sedona. We would then head up to camp at Monument Valley and then jump over to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend on our way back to Phoenix. But for the first 24-hours Sedona was ours to explore!
My itinerary called for a "quick" 1-mile morning hike to Devil's Bridge and back. Or so I thought. I confused the distances of the Devil's Bridge and Cathedral Rock Trail. Apparently, I was wrong about the total length of the trail. Really wrong. Completely off. But we made it. Barely, but we finished. So instead Eric and I found ourselves hiking 4 miles to Devil's Bridge on the energy from a light breakfast. [Sad face] Somewhere while doing my research (aka stalking Sedona trail reviews) I confused the information for the two trails. Now, while I'm down for a good hike I like to prepare mentally and that I was not my friends. If I had tracked the distance right, we would have left earlier and brought along more snacks and possibly a full lunch. I should have known, wherever I go shenanigans follow.
The hike up to Devil's Bridge was reasonably moderate with slight elevation changes both up and downhill each way, but I still feel this trail is one a beginning hiker can handle without any issue. The most challenging portion of the hike comes at the end near the Bridge where you have to climb a very steep and sketchy rock staircase. Just be sure to take your time and pay attention at where you are stepping, all should be fine.
There are several lookout points along the way which provide optimal photographic views to highlight your downward dog pose or pretty pigeon-whatever stance for your Instagram photo. For that very reason, you may want to hit the trail early to avoid the people who came out in droves to add a little nature to their feed. But hey, there's plenty of room for us all on the trail, and if you were looking for complete solitude, maybe Devil's Bridge is just not the hike for you. Its popularity on Instagram has helped bring popularity to this trail. So I think it's fair to say you will almost always bump into someone else.
The view from the bridge is entirely worth the effort and worth listening to a bunch of 20 somethings ask their friends if their "leg is like really really straight" for their yoga pose, over and over at each rest point. Again, depending on the time of your hike you may find yourself at the end of the trail with several other hikers. There seemed to be a particular system of everyone waiting their turn to take a photo crossing the bridge. It adds a bit of pressure to thinking of a unique pose if your camera shy like me, but I'm sure you were inspired by the many poses you passed on your way up. Some people even risked hanging off the side of the bridge or cartwheeling over the top of the bridge for their photo. Don't be that guy who dies for the likes. Falling to your death serves no one, and eventually, they may limit access to special places like this because of dummies who had to do the most.
Once we got to check out the bridge for a bit, Eric and I headed back down to the Jeep. We were both beyond hangry at this point thanks to my miscalculation of mileage and ready to dive into our lunch back at camp. We arrived back to camp and immediately inhaled 3 hot dogs each. Once lunch was over we immediately jumped back in our car and drove to Cathedral rock to catch the sunset.
We made it to the trailhead at exactly 5:15 pm which gave us around 45 minutes to reach the top before sunset. Cathedral Rock is a very short trail, only 1 mile, but the elevation increases 577 feet in that short distance. At one point the trail becomes so steep you have no choice but to scramble up fairly steep rock faces part of the way. I pride myself on being fairly in shape and able to handle the more difficult hikes here in Georgia. I can say with no shame that the combination of difficulty and difference in elevation from that of Georgia handed me my ass. I struggled the entire way up to the top, even stopping to give up, and then convincing myself to man-up and keep going. Somehow, some way, with lots and lots of cussing involved I reached the top 10 minutes before the sunset. And it was worth every f*ck, Sh*t, and why the hell am I doing this on the way up.
Every sunrise I witness after a tough scramble, long hike or hellish day reminds me of my Father. It reminds me of why I started this mission of mine to see and do the things I've dreamed since I was a child. It reminds me that this place that I stand was one less view that he didn't & wouldn't get to see due to his disease, but I would and could for HIM. My first Sedona sunset was indescribable and summed up just how amazing this little city was. Sedona, I cannot wait to come back.