Chronicles of the Cosmic Couple
Sedona’s hiking trails don’t change much over the years. Mother Nature pretty much leaves them as they have always been — glorious, splendidly beautiful, luminous outdoor adventures. Oh, the Forest Service might tidy up here and there, and occasionally do some rerouting, or add the odd cairn to show hikers the way.
But every few millennia or so, Ma Nature seems to make some kind of dramatic statement in the magical forests surrounding Sedona. As she did a few years ago on the Fay Canyon Trail, a lovely little walk on a wide path set in a narrow canyon lined with ancient oak trees and decorated with wildflowers.
My wife and I decided to do Fay, late in November, to celebrate the splendor of Sedona Autumn. If you are lucky enough to live here, as we have for the last 15+ years, and you love hiking adventures, as we do, you could spend lifetimes exploring all of Sedona’s nearly 150 trails. And do each one only once. But it’s also fun to revisit old favorites occasionally.
So we set out on the Fay Canyon Trail on a crisp sunny day. Several years had passed since we last did Fay. We knew a dramatic change in the trail awaited us. We couldn’t have imagined the scope of the change.
The trail is in the Boynton Canyon area, with Bear Mountain a looming, brooding presence nearby. The sky was impossibly blue on this quiet day, the trail carpeted with golden leaves.
About half a mile down the trail is an unofficial side path, usually marked with un-Forest Service cairns, that leads to the Fay Canyon Arch — an Indian ruin with incredible views. It’s a rugged, energetic scramble up the steep canyon that we weren’t into this day. Been there, done that. This was intended to be a relaxing walk with an exertion factor near zero.
But at the one mile point, around a friendly bend in the trail, there it was: The result of Mother Nature’s tirade. Huge boulders blocked the trail, with giant rocks strewn everywhere. The once-mighty Fin, a huge hunk of redrock resembling a ship’s prow, once stood here. But a massive rock slide had reduced the Fin to about one-half its former mass.
I had hiked up the Fin years ago, with a former drinking-hiking buddy, and he led me to a slickrock shelf on the Fin’s outer edges that offered breathtaking views and sheer drops of about 500 feet on three sides. As the wife and I struggled around the massive boulders on this lazy day, we saw that you could still hike up the beast, but it was a shadow of its former self.
Besides, this was to be a low-exertion day. And so we continued on the trail, up and up through the enchanted forest. Fay is a box canyon, and officially ends after about a mile and a half. But we learned that you can wiggle your way to the top through a semi-secret vent that you won’t find in any hiking guide.
Another day for that adventure, I told my wife. Fine, she said. This was to be a low-exertion day. We met few other humans on this adventure: A family from Poland…and our neighbors from the next block, out walking their new puppy!
You never know who you’ll meet on your next Sedona hiking adventure. Or what kind of challenge you will encounter, or what kind of experience will bring you closer to your own Inner Nature. It’s all available on the hiking trails of Sedona, Arizona.