Day 14 - Friday 29 July 2016

Fay, Doe and Mocha

I was up at 5.30 and out the door by about 6.20, driving down into West Sedona, a turn right onto Dry Creek Road for a few miles before turning left into Boynton Canyon Road and my first stop for the day the carpark at the trailhead to Fay Canyon. My plan was to walk half of the trail up until a right turn into the Fay Canyon Arch trail and go and sit under the arch.

Fay Canyon

The walk was easy, it was nicely shaded most of the way and before I knew it, and to my surprise, I was face to face with a sign that said Ďend of trailí. During the trek in I was looking out for a signpost to Fay Canyon Arch but didnít see one. I did however see many tracks leading off to the right, two of them in particular seemed like proper tracks. Anyway, so I was at the end of the Fay Canyon trail (which was incredible as it was a cacophony of large red boulders chaotically strewn all over the earth floor) with a red rock butte leaning forward out into the air above, and there seemed like a path that lead up and to the left further into the canyon, so I started to scramble up and over all of the fallen boulders following what looked like a continuation of the path, although it was much more difficult than the one written about in the books.

Free drawing with red dirt on handmade paper A beautiful red wave frozen in the rock at the end of Fay Canyon The looming rock above at the end of Fay Canyon Magnificent Fay Canyon

After about 10 minutes the rock face on my right presented a magnificent wave formation. I continued in, no more climbing was necessary but I was on the edge of the cliff about midway up the face where there was good grip and not a lot of downward angle on the rock. I continued on until about as far as I could safely go. The beginnings of Bear Mountain were to my left and Iím not quite sure what the rock name was that I was climbing on was called. But I was deep in the beautifully named Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness part of west Sedona.

Underneath Fay Canyon Arch

At one point I climbed up be facing the wave like section of rock, I sat down for a while, had a drink and decided to do some drawing. I had bought with me about 60 sheets of the handmade paper from Summer Colony and decided to draw on them with the red dirt under the wave rock. I was thinking about Rhonda Kelloggís book (Analysing Childrenís Art) particularly her chapters about scribbling and composition and I started to make drawings on the paper with my hands and the red dirt. Kelloggís method is a quite simple analysis of fundamental ways of mark making on a surface using a variety of marks and compositional/spatial dynamics. The feel of the red dirt washing over the paper, getting into the pours of my hands, and at times burying the surface of the page completely. I was thinking of Janís work (my PhD supervisor) in the desert of Australia and John Wolseleyís work with burying paper. I was also thinking of Melissa Wyman and Cara Emily Levineís Fight Score performance in the red dirt at Artistsí Colony a few weeks ago. I completed drawing on all 60 or so sheets, put them back in my bag and started the trek back down to the main trail.

Fay Canyon Arch Fay Canyon Arch - almost a slot canyon Underneath Fay Canyon Arch Awesome Fay Canyon Arch

When I got to the bottom (at the end of Fay Canyon trail proper) I came across a group of about six people and three dogs. All were very happy and chirpy including the dogs that were joyously scrambling over all of the boulders. I started back down the trail and decided that I would take both of the paths that I had seen on the way in search of Fay Canyon Arch. One of the paths was wide and the other had a cairn marking it. In my mind I was thinking that itís properly the path marked with the cairn but Iíll investigate both anyway.

I arrived at the first path, the wide one, and made my way up. The path was very thin, at times I had to push through small scrubs to get through. I arrived at a point after about 10-15 minutes where I was faced with a vertical upward face of cliff. It didnít look like there was an arch here but the views were pretty sensational. I took a few photos and made my way down to the main trail again.

Within 10 minutes I was at the second pathway marked with the cairn. Once I was on this pathway it was clear that it was in much better condition and had clearly had seen a little more traffic than the other. After a while the climb got steeper and at one stage I looked up and there in front of me was the arch. Eureka, I had found it. It was probably another 10 minutes of climbing at quite a steep angle now, before I was sitting underneath the arch in the shade. It was quite spectacular Fay Canyon Arch, very different from Devilís Bridge, closer to the nearby cliff face and also thicker rock. I didnít bother climbing on top of it. I spent most of time underneath exploring. It was like being in a small canyon at times, surrounded on all sides by tall rock cliffs with little bits of sunlight peering through above. I spent about half an hour up underneath the arch, sitting silently and listening to the buzz around me of the insects and birds. I made the descent down feeling that tired but energised throughout my body feeling that I had felt on previous walks. I could have easily spent another half an hour up there but it was time to make tracks.

Doe Mesa

It wasnít long before I was on the main trail again and back at the car. I made a short 5-minute drive up the road to my next destination, a climb up Doe Mountain Trail and the exploration around its summit. Hassan, and a number of books that I have been reading, tell me that this is an excellent trek. It took about a 30-40 minutes to make the climb as the day was starting to heat up. It was probably about 10 in the morning and there is little shade on Doe Mountain Trail, unlike Fay Canyon, and I could feel the sweat dripping off all parts. Once at the top I threw down a big drink of water, munched on an apple and walked all of about 3 minutes before I was at the other side of the flat plateau on top the mountain, I took a right turn and made my way along the cliff edge until I reached the eastern corner. The views were vast and it was everything that everyone had suggested.

At the eastern corner I turned right, following the top of the cliff edge to the southern corner. From here I ventured off the edge section (not off the edge but inland) and towards the western edge. This was a far much longer walk and at one point I seemed to have backtracked on myself (loosing my bearings a wee bit). The good side to this was that I came across a deer (perhaps it was a Doe) and when it saw me it skipped off in a crescent arc around me to safety. It was very hot by now. Iíd been walking around the top section for about 30 minutes and the western edge seemed like it was an eternity away. At one point I thought I canít be bothered and perhaps its best to head back down but then I thought to myself thatís pretty stupid as Iíll probably never come here again (although secretly Iíd really love to) and the western edge faced out towards Bear Mountain, Fay Canyon and Boynton Canyon and surely the red rock mountains will look sensational from the western edge vantage point.

Fay Canyon Doe Mesa Doe Mountain (Mesa) Mocha taking me for a walk

I pushed on through the heat before finally making it to the western edge and Iím glad I did as the views were awesome. I didnít stay long as it was nearly 11 now so that was enough for me. I made the trek through low-lying scrub to the top of the trail leading back down to the car-park. As always the walk down seemed fast and I felt light on my toes. But my body was tired, I felt a little sore and I needed food. Before long I was back in the car, with Sedonaís rock music station playing on the stereo in the background, the air conditioner was on full and was winding my way back into Uptown Sedona to the casita.

Charlotte and Hassan have gone into Phoenix for the day and asked if I would walk their dog, Mocha. I agreed, so after being back at the casita and having eaten something I took the dog for about a 30-minute walk around the local streets. I was thinking mid way through the walk that I donít think I have ever taken a dog for a walk before, on my own I mean. Surely I had, but I just couldnít remember, anyway, Mocha was great and I enjoyed our time together, particularly when there are views of the red rock mountains facing you in all directions. I was once again back at the casita and I needed to cool down so I ran a cool bath, took a couple of books in with me and read for an hour or so soaking the early afternoon away.

Charlotte and Hassan were back a bit early so I no longer had to walk Mocha in the afternoon. Charlotte came over and invited me for some dinner at 6. I did a bit of writing and few other things and wandered over there as told. Freddie, the architect who lives next door and whose house that he designed and was being built that we looked at earlier in the week , was there so we all chatted about politics, trekking and design and painting (he is also a painter). Freddie left and Charlotte prepared dinner, that was Persian take away bought in Phoenix. Midway through dinner I looked out the window over towards Snoopy Rock. The sky behind the rock was grey (it looked as if a storm was happening) then the sun came out onto Snoopy and the surrounding mountains in high contrast of bright yellow, gold and orange. It was a beautiful site and summed up a great day. Like all sunsets it only lasted a few minutes before the light changed and darkness started to set in. I feel so lucky to be here in this beautiful place with such fine hosts. As usual the food and sharing with the Hosseiniís has been first rate. Dinner was eaten, the conversation mellowed (I was quite tired now after todayís trekking effort) and it was time for some shut eye.

Tonights fiery sunset