Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 12: Battling The Bear

Today's main event was a showdown with Bear Mountain. Just about every trail in Sedona promises spectacular views in every direction, but Bear Mountain has the added appeal of being one of the more challenging trails in the area. The sign at the trailhead with warnings about steep, strenuous, unmarked trails and the dangers of hiking with less than a gallon of water only sweetened the deal. Better yet, the trailhead was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence and had a strange bar/gate thing that you had to climb through before actually getting to the trail, presumably to keep the fat, out of shape hikers from foolishly attempting to scale the summit. As promised, the trail was steep, but also very tricky--the actual summit was hidden behind three fake summits that obscured the view of the real top of the mountain, which was the recipe for repeated disappointment. The 1,800 foot climb did make for great views from the top. After hiking back down, I reminded myself of the power of the letter "s" and made the sweet transition from desert to dessert by stopping at the world's most perfectly placed DQ. I was so thirsty from the hike that the cold water gave the ice cream a run for its money. After that fantastic cool-down it was on to Manzanita, my personal all-time favorite campsite to set up for the final night of camping on the trip. The campground sits right next to Oak Creek, the very same waters I was wading through yesterday. There are always a few too many children here, but what can you do? With tents up, we proceeded toward Devil's Bridge, a natural rock arch. Unfortunately, the dirt road looked like the surface of the moon, impassable for the rental car. With darkness closing in, Devil's Bridge eluded us today...

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