If Thanksgiving is for just one thing, it’s for family. And I’ve had the good fortune that one of my long-time travel companions is my father, who joined us on our Sedona sojourn.
On Thanksgiving Day, my Dad and I started up a canyon with Daniel and Margaret (my brother and sister-in-law) around 10:30 am for a leisurely stroll, seeking to induce Turkey-day appetites and find the elusive Javelina, the local wild boar, (for wildlife watching, not as a festive side-dish). Around noon, the canyon kept going and going and going. Our little group happened to be filled with type-A personalities (one of our family’s strong suits), and there’s always a desire, despite my romanticized vision of hiking, to reach some semblance of a destination.
Eventually the trail wore thin and long, frustratingly so, if such a statement can be made about such a stunning landscape. Daniel and Margaret turned back, fulfilled by what they’d seen, the destination they’d reached. As for Gary the Cowboy and his terminus-seeking son, we kept going.
My dad and I have enjoyed road trips in our VW van, kayaking in Newport Harbor, camping in California’s Chocolate Mountains . . . we’ve even flown a few times (once with him piloting), and hit the high seas on a boat or two (at least across the channel to Catalina Island). But our main means of traveling together has always been by foot. I know for sure that we’ve hiked more than 2500 miles of trail (I’m a record keeper of these things) and in all reality, it’s probably been twice that distance.
Of course it’s not about the miles logged when walking in the wilderness: it’s about the scenery and the pace of enjoyment and the companionship. And for all of Sedona Arizona’s relaxing bounty, it’s hiking offers the greatest escape into a red rock country of enchanting canyons and these magical-mystery, worldly-known vortexes (don’t knock ’em til you seek one out and stand in it). This canyon we now wandered in was no exception. And we wanted to see more of it.
Suddenly the creek bed we were using for a trail came to a steep hillside, the canyon’s end? Not quite. The cairns led us up an incline, around some tall oaks and over a boulder. Most people clearly turned back at the sight of this vanishing trail, but we refused. We scrambled up ten more feet of sandstone, avoiding the cacti that reached over to tell us hello, and then under a large overhang. This spot gave way to an incredible view back down the canyon, only blocked by a few trees. Once more, such a vista could just as easily have been our destination, but something called us to push on a little farther. What was on top of the rock we now stood under?
On local maps, Sedona vortexes are marked by a tornado-looking swirl. There wasn’t such a symbol at the end of the canyon where we then stood. And supposedly, the vortexes are no longer in Sedona anyway, as they’ve sought greener pastures in places more ripe with the depth of human consciousness . . . somewhere down in South America.
So maybe where we stood wasn’t a vortex. But if something can be described as spiritually nourishing, or godly, or heavenly, or mystical, what I saw and felt from the top of that rock sure fit the bill: steep canyons stretching towards a blue horizon patched by puffy white clouds, sandstone cliffs and ghostly monoliths of red and white and brown and burnt orange, pine tree silhouettes and oak trees turning fall, and a perfect amphitheater for the melodies of my wooden flute to bounce back and forth down the canyon, the echo leading our way home to family and food and another tale to tell of our hiking adventures.