Note: some of this post was written before the election, hence the dated references!
Wow, I’ve really been MIA on the blog this month! I started a new job at the beginning of October and since I’m currently working from the office most days (and doing a lot of writing), I haven’t really had the energy to write blog posts when I get home.
But I figured if I was going to blog about anything, it’d be my first overnight trip since October 2019. Yep, I’ve been mentioning it on the blog and Instagram all year long and finally got out of town for the first time in a year. And man, was it much needed! Even though it was a short 30-ish hour trip, it really refreshed and reset me and inspired me to plan more day and overnight trips (likely solo!) before the end of the year.
This recap is going to be mostly photos because I took 200+ over the course of Friday and Saturday (!) but I hope that’s ok because Sedona is absolutely gorgeous (especially this time of year) and I never get sick of the views.
Friday, Oct. 23
I “slept in” (til 7:30 am!) and took Honey for a walk and then did a quick 4 mile run in the neighborhood before hitting the road with my dad. Originally, I was supposed to spend a long weekend in Tucson with the fam but after a few snafus (we didn’t actually have a place to stay, my sister was supposed to go to LA for work and wouldn’t be able to make the trip and then she wound up getting sick — not COVID — and she and my mom had to stay home), my dad and I decided an overnight trip to Sedona would be cheaper and more doable, so we booked a hotel about a week and a half before and changed our itinerary. Fortunately, my dad and I are both more spontaneous people, so we’re good to go with the flow.
Our first stop — dropping off my ballot 🗳 Y’all, please VOTE! It’s so important, especially this year. It took me just a minute to walk in the polling place and drop off my ballot, and I was so encouraged to see several other people doing the same thing.
After that, we headed north. If you’re not from AZ, you probably don’t know the crapshoot that I-17 can be. It’s really the only convenient route from Phoenix to northern Arizona and with so much traffic (including lots of semis), there’s bound to be crashes. These often close the freeway for hours, since it’s mostly 2 lanes in each direction. This was my sixth or seventh time on I-17, and probably the best in terms of traffic. There were no crashes and minimal slowdowns so we made good time. I was very thankful for this, as my birthday trip to Sedona in 2018 was delayed by a 3 hour traffic jam 🙄
Once in Sedona (actually Oak Creek, where our hotel was), we tried to check in but it was still too early, so we just decided to go to the trailhead to start our hike. The GPS said it would take 45 minutes to get there (what?!) so we braced ourselves for lots of traffic. It was mostly the usual traffic in Uptown Sedona, plus some construction that closed down lanes but we finally made it to the trail around 2. We had to park about a quarter of a mile away on the road and hike over on a sketchy narrow trail alongside the highway, which was probably the hardest part of the hike!
Once we were officially on the West Fork trail, we immediately understood why it’s so popular, especially this time of year. The fall colors were unlike anything I’ve ever seen — so many bright shades of red, orange and yellow! It was seriously stunning, and I must have taken 100 photos in the nearly 5 miles we hiked.
The trail was actually really interesting, because it was basically sand so it was very easy to navigate…until you got to the creek crossings. There were 13 (26 total if you did the whole trail since it’s an out and back), and we probably did 7 each way — we didn’t quite make it to the end but were sick of the crossings. Fortunately, the water level was low but the crossings really slowed you down and my shoes were soaked and mud-covered by the end, but it was totally worth it!
I was starving when we made it back to the car around 4:30, since I hadn’t eaten anything all day except a protein bar. We had a bunch of salty snacks like popcorn and nuts in the back that we noshed on before heading back to check in at the hotel.
After check-in, my dad and I cleaned the room with Clorox wipes (better safe than sorry) and then relaxed for a bit before deciding to pick up takeout. We originally wanted to grab food from Chocolatree, a vegan restaurant in West Sedona, but they weren’t doing takeout orders after 5 pm! So we settled on a nearby Thai place that had vegan options and grabbed dinner to-go. The food was pretty decent but it’s kind of hard to transport coconut curry dishes so our meals weren’t as good as they would have been if we had dined in. But we still don’t feel comfortable eating inside restaurants thanks to coronavirus so takeout was our best option!
The rest of the evening, we watched the local access channels and had fun making jokes about them. I had had a headache most of the day and it wasn’t subsiding so I called it a night around 11 pm.
Saturday, Oct. 24
I didn’t have the best night of sleep (headache, my dad snoring and uncomfortable hotel pillows) but I woke up around 7:30 am anyway, ready to start the day.
My dad dropped me off at the Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte trailhead, about a 5 minute drive from our hotel room, so I could do a trail run. I was super pumped to finally be able to run in Sedona!
I started off on the Bell Rock Pathway and took the Courthouse Butte trail when it split off. Despite a bad tumble in the first mile or so, it was a nice run. I wore a long sleeve and shorts since it was only in the 50s at the start but the sunshine made it feel much warmer and I got kinda hot.
I ended up looping all the way around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock, for 6 miles. The last two miles or so weren’t as enjoyable since the Bell Rock Pathway trail was getting congested and people kept asking me if I was ok (because of the blood running down my knee from the fall). It was nice of them to be concerned but I just wanted to run without being judged. Overall though, it was a beautiful run!
My dad picked me up and I showered and got ready for the rest of the day, then we packed up our stuff and checked out. But our day didn’t end there!
We stopped in Uptown Sedona to grab Chipotle takeout for lunch and then drove to West Sedona to eat it at a park. Chipotle just hits different in Sedona 😍 I also hadn’t had Chipotle in more than a year, so it was extra good!
Then we headed further west for hike #2 of the weekend. We drove past a couple of crowded trailheads but lucked out by finding a parking spot at the TH we planned to start from. We set off on the Cockscomb Trail and saw no one except a solo biker and then a family of bikers who zoomed past us on the narrow singletrack. We were worried it would be a bunch of bikes, but once we branched off onto the Dawa Trail, we only encountered a couple hiking with their dog, and then we saw no one for a couple of miles!
After some easy, flat-ish miles, we crossed a road and then entered the Canyon of Fools. We laughed about the name but then soon realized why it was called that — it was literally a dry wash with tall, narrow walls like a mini canyon! It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and weird in a cool way.
Once we left the “canyon”, the trail became a little rockier but still pretty mild. We finally got a few climbs and then found ourselves on a trail that’s basically slick rock on the side of Mescal Mountain. We had seen bikers riding up there and wondered if they were off-trail…nope, there’s really a trail on the edge of the rock formation! It was a bit scary for someone with a fear of heights (me!) but it was actually a pretty wide trail with no steep drop-offs, and the slick rock surface was easy to navigate.
Then we started making our way down some switchbacks, and this is where the trail became much more busy. We passed several groups of hikers as we went by a trailhead, and then after crossing the road again, we didn’t see anybody until we got back to the car. The last mile-ish seemed to last forever though and we were both ready to be done because our feet were sore. The hike ended up being about 5.6 miles and nearly 500 feet of elevation gain, which is pretty decent for a hike that was fairly easy.
Back at the car, we changed into “real” clothes and then headed straight for Page Springs Cellars in nearby Cornville to do some wine tasting. Except when we got there, it was PACKED with tons of people milling about outside. We didn’t feel comfortable with that in this COVID environment, so we drove up the road a bit to Oak Creek Vineyards, which was much less crowded.
We grabbed a table outside and got our tasting flights, which we enjoyed while watching the sunset. It was the perfect end to a perfect weekend away!
I’m really grateful that I was able to enjoy a getaway this year, even if it was pretty short. The trip to Sedona was just what I needed to get a mental and physical reset after an unpredictable year. I didn’t think I’d get to travel at all in 2020, so this trip was very much appreciated. I’d still like to fit in a couple more quick weekend trips in this year if possible, but at least I had Sedona ❤️
Have you been able to travel this year? What’s the most beautiful hike/trail run you’ve ever done?