Our latest adventure took us to Bell Canyon, just south of Sedona. The plan was to mountain bike the White Mesa Trail as far as we could go, stash the bikes in the brush and then travel on foot along Beaver Creek until we find a good spot to camp for the night.
Riding a bike over rough terrain while wearing a 35 pound pack wasn’t as easy as we thought, but it was definitely exhilarating and fun!
We reach the Weir trail head without incident and start along a well marked trail. To our left is a steep cliff of Sedona’s red sandstone studded with Agave, Prickly Pear and Hedgehog cacti. To the right is the fast flowing Beaver Creek.
Engleman’s Hedgehog Cactus
The sky is clear, crisp and impossibly blue. The trail hugs the contours and spectacular rock formations surround us. The trail quickly disappears, overgrown by brush or washed out and we continue onward, rock hopping our way back and forth across the water and scampering up and down boulders. After about an hour of picking our way through the heavy flora we find a nice flat open area and make camp for the night.
We fish for a while in pools up and down the creek without a bite and decide to settle in for the night. Dinner is an Angel Hair Puttenesca. I sautéed onions, garlic and salami then added tomato paste and water and cooked the pasta directly in this sauce, then finished it with a little balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Yum!
The night is clear and the stars take center stage. We both saw nice shooting stars and I set my camera on the ground pointing up with a three minute exposure in an attempt to capture the fantastic light show. We both crash for the night to the sounds of the bubbling riffles of water and wind through the trees.
After a warm evening of good sleep we wake to a cacophony of bird songs and make a quick breakfast. We pack enough food, water, fishing and first aid gear to last for a day and head further up the creek. The scenery is just amazing and beautiful and we find a nice deep pool jumping with fish. I land a couple smallmouth bass that put up a good fight and release them, not wanting to carry them around all day (“we’ll catch em again on the way back”).
Greater Earless Lizard
We reach Bell Crossing, named after the old rancher Charles Bell who created the trail, and take the spur trail to the “Tongue of the Beaver”, a rock outcrop that looks like a giant diving board. We venture further along the escarpment and then down into the canyon and have a great time bouldering our way through problem after problem, sometimes climbing a tree and jumping across to a ledge, other times sliding down a ramp of sandstone and jumping to a safe perch at the perfect moment.
Lunch is tuna wraps and trail mix under a riparian ledge, and then back we go, retracing our route to camp. We stop to fish with no luck, but no matter, the scenery and weather couldn’t be any better and we were pretty worn out.
Claret Cup Cactus
Back at camp I attempt to make fire with a bow and spindle. It takes a few hours of tweaking the bow, finding the perfect spindle and gouging the base and cup… but I finally succeed! The first time I’ve ever made fire without matches, lighter or flint. I leave the components of the fire kit under a tree for the next camper to play with…
One more night around a blazing fire. We’re listening to Neil Young, roasting sausages and baking bananas. The weather is perfect, no bugs are bothering us and the creek gurgles along. Life is good!
The way out…