October 28, 2009

Vultee Arch, Coconino National Forest, Sedona, AZ

Today we did the 3.4 mile round trip to Vultee Arch. The weather changed over quickly from the 70's to snow in just 24 hours. We were under the impression it would be raining or snowing this morning, so when we woke up and saw blue skies and sunshine, we decided to get in a quick hike before the weather soured.

The 4 mile dirt road to Vultee Arch is in terrible condition, with huge rocks and ruts all over the place. Luckily for us, we have a high clearance 4x4 truck, so we did not bottom out. When we arrived at the trailhead, it was chilly, but not too cold. Hilina walked maybe 3/4th of a mile before we picked her up to finish the trail, as it was chilly in the shadows of the increasingly narrow canyon.

The trail itself is very nice, as it follows a dry wash filled with Arizona sycamores, ash, walnut, sumac, Alligator Juniper, some canyon maples, and a beautiful stand of large Ponderosa pine and Douglas firs.

There was a fire not long ago that left the large trees of the north-facing slope of the canyon charred. But, many of the largest trees survived the fire and the riparian trees of the wash seemed to have avoided it altogether.
Upon reaching the arch, you can see a wonderful view up Sterling Pass into the canyon and that looks like it would be a fun hike to do all the way to Oak Creek Canyon. Back the way we came is a spectacular view of the red rock cliffs of the Sedona area.

After a brief stop, we noticed that the clouds really started rolling in. So, Linda put Hilina on her back and we cruised back to the truck. Shortly after we started driving out, snow started falling! Nothing stuck, but it was a sureal experience after sweating just a few days ago.

Amazingly, they are predicting it will be in the 50's on Friday and then 76 again on Sunday! Crazy! We'll be heading to Williams to get Hilina's swine flu shot on Saturday. As for Sunday, we are debating between heading up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon or heading down into the Verde Valley.
We'll decide on Saturday, but we'll probably spent 1-2 weeks in the Verde Valley in early November.

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