Jesse Murch


Sedona and Red Rocks State Park - " I didn't think the dirt would be this red "

Upon concluding our time in Phoenix, and grabbing the ever needed hot shower and night of sleep in something that doesn't have wheels, we packed up, said our thank you's, and got back onto the road. Sedona was roughly a two hour or so drive from where we had been staying, leaving phoenix the roadside attractions gradually got smaller and the cacti gradually got bigger. Again we found ourselves driving the straightest roads although this time instead of being flat they climbed as we went. We drove and crested out onto some flat land for a few miles before coming up on the welcome center right outside of Sedona. we pulled off and parked, immediately noticing how truly red the dirt was when stepping out of the van, i assure you that the photos may look saturated but that is in fact how this martian dirt looked to the eye, it was breathtaking. We grabbed a few trail maps, talked with a local national park officer, and had or coordinates to one of Sedona's best hiking spots. Driving to the trail head the first thing that you noticed is the structure of the town is unlike that of any other, set up in a strip of roundabouts as apposed to a road with intersections, all the houses and structure made with adobe and painted with the colors that natural form around the area. Everything about this town was cohesive and felt right nestled beneath the incredible rock structures. Everywhere you looked, all 360 degrees of view has massive and surreal stone structures painted in the rich red dirt as the light shined upon them.We found a small parking area outside of the trail head, parked, grabbed our cameras and water and proceeded up to cathedral rock. The hike started off slow, passing over a dry river bed, and traversing a slight incline sprinkled with low lying brush and trees. About twenty minutes into the hike we reached our first plateau overlook, it wasn't anything to write home about as far as height was concerned but to look north and see the massive stones we would be climbing shortly was mesmerizing.We grabbed a quick water break and continued on, this trail getting harder as we went, to the point of us putting the cameras in the packs and using both hands and feet to climb up these red cliffs. After another hour we were approaching the summit, tired, and ready for a break, but we continued to push on knowing we wanted to make it before sunset. As you got to the last leg and climbed the almost sheer cliff you breached up on the final over look, a six foot wide plot of land connecting the two cathedral rock structures, sheer cliff on either side and one of the most astounding views my eyes had seen thus far. Like something out of the land before time the red mountain tops scattered throughout highlighted by rich green trees. The wind whipped around us like a sort of welcoming dance, a congratulations to reaching and seeing what few get to. We spent most of our time sitting perched on the edge of the cliff feet dangling into the oblivion, lost in our thoughts. If there was ever a place you felt pure nirvana this was it. Just writing this gives my the warm rush all over again. We sat for a good hour taking in the purple majestic sunset as it coasted beneath the fiery cliffs infant of us. as it dipped the sky became a brilliant blue and revealed the moon for the first glimpse of the day. We proceeded to force ourselves to pack up and leave knowing we would already be walking back in the dark. The treck home was faster, we were more familiar with our terrain, and we were hungry. Arriving back at the van we headed to find a place to set up camp for the night and begin cooking, during this search we stumbled upon two interesting places, the first a literally Church built into the side of one of these massive mountains with huge glorious windows overlooking the valley. Ive never been one for religion but this place was sheer beauty and commanded respect over the town. The following place was far less grand but much more interesting, it was a sort of artist commune of sorts, multiple shops combined into a collective nestled between the cacti. As we wandered from room to room the hand crafted goods sang to us with there beauty and taunted us to buy, knowing we had a tight budget we decided it be best to leave, we continued down the road and found a cozy parking lot inside the mountains to spend a night. As the darkness slid in the sky became painted with brilliant twinkling stars, it was a perfect reward to a successful day, well that and the delicious mac and cheese we whipped up! As we were just about ready for bed and to crawl back to it we saw headlights beam up over the horizon and enter the parking lot, a cop car, thinking this was the last thing we needed, to get kicked out of a public place and have to find a new place to sleep we expected the worst, to our surprise the cop pulled and, pulled around and left just as quickly without saying a word. Not ones to overthink we shrugged and prepared for bed and the next day of adventure ahead of us.