Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hiking in Sedona - Bear Mountain

Obligatory "selfie"
While it's pretty easy to forget when I get in my day to day grind, days like today remind you just how lucky I am.  Not really a reminder either, more like a really hard smack right in my face.

So I had a pretty big dilemma.  Here it is Saturday night, I am in Vegas, need to be in Tucson Monday afternoon.  I haven't been outside all week and I need my fix.  The dilemma: on my only free day, Sunday, do I go hike the Grand Canyon or make a stop in Sedona and hike there?  Looking back now I really don't know why this was such a hard decision.  The forecast in the Canyon was 45 degrees and 30+ mph winds.

Amazing view from the Bear Mountain
 Trail in Sedona
Miserable right ?!?!  Plus I have already been there a few times and let's face it, once you've seen it and hiked it a couple times there just isn't that much new to see.  Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing place that EVERYONE has to see once, but for an avid hiker once really is enough.  Tons of people, tour buses full, most of them not having the same personal space that we do.  Not very many trails...geesh not sure why I had the urge to go in the first place.  Luckily I came to my senses and headed down to Sedona.

Sedona is an outdoors mecca.  TONS of trails for hiking, biking horseback.  You name it, they've got it.
Looking back down at the amazing
sandstone formations
 Top that with no where near the crowds of the Grand Canyon, better weather, amazing scenery and tons of options to hike and you get a truly amazing place.

Ok enough about Sedona and more about my hike.  I decided to do something a little off the main drag.  Bear Mountain is a pretty tough hike.  Pretty easy to find, just a couple miles off of Dry Creek road and 89A in town.  The hike isn't too long at just over 5 miles round trip, but it gains close to 2000' of elevation and offers spectacular views.  I wouldn't make this the first hike of my life but it's not too tough if you are in generally ok shape.  I arrived at the trail head at 10am to 65 degrees, a nice breeze and sunny.  Perfect hiking weather!

The first section of the trail crosses over the valley just slowly gaining elevation.  Once I got closer to the cliff faces I felt like I was basically trekking straight up.  There were a few ups and downs along the trail, but it
Awesome views from the trail
generally is pretty steep.  Once or twice I used my hands as I scaled up or down a rock face, but overall it's a pretty straight forward "two feet needed" type of hike.  I came over a few false summits, each offering awesome views, but the summit of Bear Mountain was unmistakable once I saw it.  The pain of the constant climb was numbed by the scenery as I climbed further and further.  Along with the continuous vistas, the sandstone walls continuously transforms as you hike further and further up.

Once I made the summit I was greeted with 360 degrees of the entire area.  The sun lit of the geological
Lunch at the summit of Bear Mountain
formations all around me and was nothing short of breathtaking.  I never get tired of the feeling I get after you make the top of a challenging hike.  I stopped for a while up there as it was about the most fantastic spot I could imagine having lunch.  No need to rush out, I had all day and I felt like I had the best view on the planet.

The descent didn't feel too hard, but I found myself stopping every couple of minutes to take pictures!  I am sure if I just pushed through my legs would have a bit more upset with me.  Or maybe I was just ignore it was I gave all of my focus on soaking in everything around me.  Once I was back at the trail head it seemed like it came too quickly!

As a side note, I met a nice family from Chicago on the hike.  Interestingly enough, they told me the same thing: they went to the Grand Canyon, but were having so much more fun in Sedona.  Jennifer was 22, her mother 45 and her grandfather 76.  All 3 of them made it to the top and back.  Truly inspiring to see the
Jennifer and her family heading
back down to the trail head.
whole family make it; I can only hope that when I am 76 I am still able to kick some mountain butt too.  You've got no reason to get out there and try it too!

Net net: if you are going to the Grand Canyon to hike, you may want to reconsider and spend some time in Sedona!  At least make sure you stop and look at the "big hole" if you haven't been there before, but once you get sick of bumping into people and staring at the same thing get in you car and drive south.  Sedona isn't even 2 hours away and will keep you entertained for days on end.

And a few more pictures for you from Bear Mountain, Sedona, AZ:

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