Brins Mesa Trail to Vultee Arch - Sedona, Arizona
October 9, 2015 - Like the Grand Canyon, Sedona is all color and shadow.
On my one-day swing through one of my favorite towns I chose a 16-mile
route I had done previously.  Great trails are worth doing again and again.
In February, I will be venturing back to Sedona for a week of trail running,
so this was just a pleasant prelude to a future of good times.

Feeling rather good after my Grand Canyon foray and a day off, I headed up
the steep climb to Brins Mesa from the Jordan Road trailhead in the heat of
the day.  With temps in the eighties and blue skies overhead, I was relishing
the perfect weather and tough technical conditions.  Easing down the far
side of the mesa I chased a snorting javelina for a ways after it crossed my
trail.  These wild oinkers are slippery fast and it was gone in a flash.

The air was hot and dry despite abundant evidence that the trail had 
undergone significant flash flooding only three days before.  The wash I
followed on a braided trail to the bottom was still wet with quite a few
large red rain pools remaining.  The trail in the woods is three miles before
I turned on a jeep trail for another three miles, then cut back up toward
Sterling Pass through a beautiful canyon to reach Vultee Arch.

The road tilts uphill all the way before I cut back into the shaded woods.  It
was like running in a dry sauna.  Half way up the canyon I jumped out of the
way of a yellow canyon rattlesnake, about four feet long, that curled in a 
threatening strike pose to rattle its warning at me.  I watched it awhile until
it stopped rattling, made sure I remembered where it was so I could just
tip-toe past it on the way back if necessary, then continued onto my 

One is always more vigilant after spotting a pit viper on the trail.  God forbid
I ever get nailed by one of these guys.  I was likely too far out to reach any
kind of treatment in time.  Such risks come with the rewards.  Reaching
Vultee Arch, named for a pioneering flyer that crashed nearby with his wife
in 1938, I climbed up onto it for the view and photos.  Gorgeous piece of
natural engineering.  I love coming here.

Half out of fluids, I turned for home ex post hasto, watching for serpents in
the grass, really just enjoying my make-it-up-as-you-go lifestyle.  My four-
mile-per hour tempo was just right for watching for snakes and dancing with
the challenges of a very technical trail.  My legs and lungs are ready for more
miles at lower altitudes and soon I am going to put them to the test.