Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hiking the Wrong Way

We set out this morning for a quick little hike in Sedona. The weather was beautiful, our attitudes were great.  We were ready for an adventure!
The trail starts with a one mile assent up switchbacks from 89A to the top of the canyon (the Mogollon Rim).  It's not easy.  It's steep that someone has installed railings periodically up the canyon.  Maggie was so excited to join us & let me tell you how hard it is to have your dog on a leash while going up a canyon!  We tried taking her off & she kept nearly sliding over the edge...not so fun!  We took a few breaks as we went up...Kendall was having a hard time regulating her breathing & was making herself dizzy.  But still it was fun!
Maggie was ready to go!  She did not want to stop for anything!  The view from the top was breath taking...
It was a good thing there were carins (trail markers) all over the place because the trail was almost non-existent after the switchbacks.
Too bad they ended up being a cruel joke.  More on that later.
Just enjoying the day...
And then we got lost.  I'm not kidding you.  The trail just evaporated.  There were trees down all over the place.  Heavy pine needles & brush.  We'd start thinking we needed to turn around & then we'd see a carin & think all is good.  I even stopped & took a few photos along the way of random things, you know, like barrel cactus.
Kendall was thrilled when we found the trail again...
And hey, look!  Another carin...
I think they were put there by evil leprechauns just to mess with the hikers because honestly, they marked nothing.  Oh, I'm sure at some point they were useful, but if that were the case we wouldn't have ended up where we did.
They did lead us to the overlook the trail book mentioned.  But then the trail disappeared.  Completely.  We had no idea where we were.  We went a couple of different directions to see if we could find the trail & it was just not there.  Imagine the fear when you realize you have no idea how you're going to get off the top of the canyon.

We knew that we needed to go down.  We knew that there were sheer cliffs all over the canyon so you couldn't just head down.  So we headed to the nearest ravine, thinking that we could just follow the rocks to the bottom.  Well, you can.  But let me tell you, that is hard, hard work!  There was so much debris that Kendall said the forest service should come out & clean it up.  Haha!  There were a lot of rocks.  Steep inclines.  Sticker bushes every frickin' turn.  Poor Kendall was so freaked out that she cried most of the way down.
My husband was a rock.  He maintained his cool level head & got us down safely.  Sometimes having to carry the dog or help us down the huge rocks.  We used him for a step many, many times.  Poor Maggie was not really into the whole ravine thing.  She kept coming close to falling off the edge & actually did a few times.  It was very frightening, to say the least.
Here's a peek at part of that stupid ravine.  Rotted wood, dead leaves, fallen trees, and steep, steep, steep!  I ripped a huge hole in my shorts & we're all covered with scrapes, scratches & bruises.
Finally, we made it down to Hwy 89.  And discovered that we were 1/2 a mile from the trail head we were supposed to come out on.  Grrr....and we had to walk 2 miles back to the car.  Beaten, battered & exhausted, we finally made it back to the pathfinder 5 hours after we started out.

Many things ran through my head while we were descending the ravine.
  • First, I couldn't cry.  I didn't want to make it worse for Kendall by freaking out.  I have to admit though there was one point that I almost burst into tears because I was so scared!  
  • I also kept thinking how embarrassing it was going to be if we had to call search & rescue.  These little photos don't show even a fraction of how bad it was...mostly because I was hanging on to trees & rocks & trying not to break my neck. 
  • My husband is a rock star (literally, haha!)  He kept his cool.  He scoped things out & did his best to keep us safe.  Sometimes that meant we had to back track or crawl through thick downed trees & leaves, but man, he was on his game!  He told me later that he was quite afraid & just couldn't show it because he thought if we saw him freak out that we would, too.
  • Do we have enough water?  I lost Kendall's water bottle down one of the rocks I had to slide down...oops.  And did we bring food?  I didn't even want to stop to see if we had.
Don waited until we were almost at the road to slip & fall & hurt himself.  He has a 6" x 12" scrape up his back.

Will we hike this trail again?  No f'ing way.  I do want to figure out where we went wrong but I have no desire to ever hike there again.  Kendall says she's never hiking again.  Ever.  I doubt that is true, but next time we will be better prepared.  Not just a stinkin' hike book with comic book maps.


  1. Jeez Louise, Guys! Thank goodness you're home safe & sound!!!
    Love you!

  2. Oh my gosh. I would have been bawling with Kendall. Of course, hiking sometimes makes me cry even if it isn't hard or I get lost. Glad you are all safe.

  3. Glad you are safe! Holy crap!! The picture you got of Kendall holding on to Don is priceless! Leave it to you in the midst of a crisis to still have your camera out:)
    So happy you all are ok!

  4. Oh and I did not mean priceless in a funny way. I meant it brought tears to my eyes. You could feel the emotion looking at that photo.