Rocky Road and the Quickest Way Down

**We camped and hiked on Hopi, Pueblo, and Tonto Apache lands**

After visiting Sedona with my parents a few weeks ago Kirk and I knew that we wanted to do more hiking in the area. Sedona was a split between the desert and Flagstaff area. The landscape was dramatic with pine trees littering the hillsides and red sandstone cliffs in every direction.

It was going to be a warm weekend in the Valley so we headed up to Sedona Saturday morning after dropping our cats at the boarders. On the drive up we listened to podcasts and I knitted before turning onto a dirt road that would lead us to some dispersed campsites. We had done some research on this road. Since we knew it was dirt the entire way and our only vehicle is an Outback we wanted to make sure that it was going to be possible for us to get to some of the campsites.

Around the 4 mile mark on this dirt road we hit a stretch that Kirk wasn’t as confident in. I had been anxious and gripping the seat the entire way but we had just passed a campsite that we liked the look of, so while he turned around I hopped out and snapped some pictures from the rim before walking back to the campsite. At the campsite we put up our tent and took the chairs out before throwing lunch and water into our packs and heading off to the Schnebly Hill Vista. From there we took a trail down into the canyon.

The Casner Canyon Trail was about a 3.5 mile round trip trail with an elevation change of over 1300 feet. The descent (and returning climb) was completely in the sun. As we started down I was recording on the GoPro but after the dramatic reveal of sandstone cliffs I put the GoPro and my phone in my bag. Less than 50 yards later I lost my footing and skidded down the trail a bit. Very happy that I had been anticipating my lack of mountain goat footing, we continued slowly descending into the canyon.

At the bottom of the canyon we walked through a seasonal creek bed before winding up on the bank of Oak Creek. The creek was wide enough that there wasn’t a great crossing point. We debated just walking through it sans socks and shoes but we had both only brought one pair of shoes with us and we didn’t want to have mildly damp shoes for the rest of the weekend. After walking back along the shaded canyon floor we started climbing. And it got hot fast. The lookout point we had been at before starting this hike seemed so much higher and further away. All of the loose rocks that we had been carefully picking our way down were less of a hinderance going up but still didn’t make it easy. In less time than it took us to get down we were back at the trailhead.

Being only 3 in the afternoon it was a little too early for dinner so we chased the sun around our campsite and played some dice games. As the sun set we ate looking over the canyon. The temperature dropped quickly after that. Unlike our trip to Prescott we were very prepared for the cold. We had our “brand new” (almost a year old and not used yet) 20 degree quilt, hiking puffies, light gloves, and beanies I knitted the year prior. All of this was gear that we had accrued in anticipation for a CDT thru-hike but is fortunately being put to good use still. Before long we were able to make out the Milky Way and we spent some time going through constellations until crawling into our tent.

In the morning we debated doing some more hiking but ultimately decided to take our time making breakfast and drinking our coffee. The weather was incredibly pleasant and we had brought blueberries for our pancakes. After breaking down camp we drove back along the rocky road to the highway. All in all it was an enjoyable trip with gorgeous scenery.

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