Taking on Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Remember how a few posts ago (before my computer crapped out on me and had to be sent away for repairs, leaving me unable to edit photos) I mentioned that I was remaking the rounds of almost every destination in Arizona I had made with my parents a few years ago, now once again with Matt in tow? One can not miss destination on that list was Sedona.  Having first visited this town four years ago while my brother and parents, I couldn’t let Matt miss out on it’s displays of red rocks and beauty.

Because my dad was still working most of the days during our visit, we needed to wait for the weekend to come before we had a full day to drive out.  Getting an early start on the day, I was happy to still have my body in sync with the Eastern Time Zone, so when it was time to wake up at 7:00 am, by body was thinking it was 10 and was ok with rolling out of bed that time.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

A  few hours later we pulled into a gray and wet Sedona, and after having taken in the traditional breakfast stop of The Teapot, a restaurant with over 101 omelets on their menu, we were perusing some guide books in the lobby on how to spend the rest of our afternoon there.  Of course I had originally found Devil’s Bridge on Instagram and I wanted one of those apparent death defying photos to add to my own account, although once we had the chance to read up on it, it turns out our vehicle was not suited for the short cut and it would be a 1.3 mile walk each way.  I don’t think anyone other than myself was up for such a hike, just to get that perfect shot for social media (although I’m sure it’s beautiful to see without a camera in front of your face as well), but it was not going to be in the cards and we needed to make another decision.

Flipping through a few more pages I focused on the ‘easy hikes’ section and came across Cathedral Rock. A nice description and a hike that would amount in less than a mile round trip.  Pulling out my tablet and searching for directions, we were back on the road and ready to take in some sights.  Since nowadays everyone and their mother, including mine, is quick to pull out their phone or tablet to research anything and everything under the sun that catches their interest, it was her that let us know, while enroute, that  this ‘easy’ hike may not be as easy as we were led to believe.  From what she had found online, it was in fact a very short distance, its just that most of it happened to be vertical.

“No, that can’t be right”, I responded.  ”It didn’t mention anything about it in the guidebook.”

“I’m just telling you what I’m reading here.  It says that the hike is 600 feet of vertical trails, and it says its a strenuous walk.”

“But….the guidebook was on hiking.  All the hiking trails in Sedona.  This was listed as easy.”

“We’ll have to see when we get there, but I don’t think its a flat trail.”

As I’ve learned over my last 33 years of existing, my mother, as usual, was right.  As soon as we found the road leading to Cathedral Rock, the tall red stone jutting out of the earth made it very apparent that it would indeed be a steep climb.  One my parents were probably not willing to make.

road to Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock, Sedona, ArizonaHaving come on a Sunday, we found that we were not the only ones in search of a little beauty and adventure on this particular weekend, and the lack of available parking spots had us taking a few unscheduled detours past private homes perched on hills, before circling back down and snagging a spot in the front row.  Since we had made the drive all the way out there, we couldn’t just stand at the base and stare up at it without attempting to scale it.  At least for Matt and I.  Like a kid looking to leave a candy store with a fist full of goodies, I looked up at my parents, my eyes asking for permission to leave them behind while the two of us did a little exploring.

They of course let us go, and we promised them we should be back in less than an hour.  30 minutes up and 30 minutes back right?  And so Matt and I quickly ran away while we left my parents behind in the car. Don’t worry, we left the windows cracked for them.

base of Cathedral Rock, Sedona

overlooking Sedona, Arizona

Sedona ArizonaAlthough we had been experiencing some blustery conditions at breakfast and I had been very happy to have on my jeans and fleece, they were quickly becoming unnecessary as we just as quickly began passing people at the base of the rock.  Because I somewhat expected this I had left my fleece behind, having traded it for a cardigan, but even that was tucked away in a little bag and my jeans were already starting to glue themselves to my leg.

Passing people left and right, we scampered up the red rocks, trying to keep to our timelines so my parents wouldn’t worry and call the rangers on us once our 60 minutes were up.  Or least, that was my excuse for rushing.  Matt just likes running up mountains.  We did stop every now and then to take in the views as well as a few photos.

Although the climb didn’t seem hard, it was becoming never ending.  What I thought was the top of the trail only led to more trail heads off to the side and more climbing.  Just when I was sure that we’d already been up there for nearly an hour and would have to run back down now, a few couples passed us on their decent and not only let us know that we were so close to getting to the top, but the views were absolutely worth the effort to keep going.  Luckily they were telling the truth that it really was only a few more minutes of climbing, and also, the views were definitely worth the effort.

At the top we were greeted with a cliff that had a small walkway wedged out over a fairly sheer drop, and views of the valley from the opposite side of the rock we had come up. The popular thing to do was have your photo taken at the edge of the cliff, and because that’s what everyone seemed to be coming up for, we had to wait in line a few minutes before I was able to make my way over for my own photo shoot.

top of Cathedral RockTop of Cathedral Rock

cliff atop Cathedral Rock

Taking in a few more side trails before we made our way back down, we were once again a little bummed that we didn’t have a full afternoon to devote to our climb here.  I really should do my research better.  Given my parents a free pass to go out and enjoy a winery without me, and pick Matt and I up a few hours later, instead of making them sit at the base and wait for us.

Grudgingly making our way down, we were also making up for lost time by basically skipping and jumping the entire way.  Most people will tell you that the most difficult part of a climb is the descent (and we found that to be true at Machu Picchu), but in this case it was incredibly easy.  Even grace-challenged moi was able to jump and leap without any fear of tumbling down the face of a mountain.  Although there were one or two areas I was forced to do a butt crawl because of the steep angles of the rock and improper footing.

What seemed like 10 minutes later we were back and the bottom and taking the trail to the parking lot, searching for my parents and hoping they weren’t worried like crazy.  Turns out they were just fine without us.  They had taken a nice little walking trail at the bottom for 45 minutes or so, and then went back the car to enjoy a few drinks while using their binnocculars to watch us and others make their way up and down.  They had no worries about us at all.

top of Cathedral Rock trail

balancing rock, Sedona

coming down Cathedral Rock

Sedona

And although we never made it to Devil’s Bridge where it would have looked like I was teetering on top of the earth, I think I ended up with my Instagram worthy