Day 21 - Friday 5 August 2016

Brins Mesa, more arches and more artists

On the Brins Mesa trail

I was up at 6.20 this morning and out the door at 7. Charlotte and Hassan were sitting on the patio, I said a quick hello to Charlotte before Hassan and I got in the car and drove a very short 5-10 minutes down the end of Jordan Road to the trailhead of the Brins Mesa Trail (and Cibola Pass). We started off today’s walk on the Brins Mesa trail. Over the past few weeks here I had heard from a few people that this was a lovely trail to walk. A book that I have suggested that it was about 3 hours if you did the loop (that is up Brins Mesa, then down Soldiers Pass, left onto Jordan trail and to finish off up and over Cibola Pass back to the starting point).

The morning itself was beautiful. It was mild, some clouds in the sky and quite still. We set off up Brins Mesa, and immediately there were excellent views of The Mittens up ahead. The trail gradually led upwards going from easy to a moderate climb and within 30-40 minutes of steadily climbing we emerged at the top of Brins Mesa. There were great views of the Wilson Mountain range, Steamboat Rock, The Sphinx, Cibola Rock and even the back edge of the Coffee Pot could be seen. We slowly continued walking on top of the mesa until reaching the Soldiers Pass trail that made a left turn and the commencement of loop.

The Mittens Up on Brins Mesa The many colours of Sedona From Brins Mesa onto Soldiers Pass

In my ‘100 Hikes of Sedona’ book was mapped out, in thin dots, the Soldiers Pass Arches and we could see three arches looking up towards Brins Mesa on the cliff side. It took us a little while longer to find the path once it seemed like we were past it and in a dry creek bed. We came across a small sign pointing us onto the continuation of the Soldiers Pass trail, but there behind the sign in the other direction was the start of the trail up to the arches. I have a sneaking suspicion that trail may have been off limits as it was fairly hidden but we took it anyway.

After 5 minutes the trail improved dramatically but the very last section was a steep difficult section that eventually lead to underneath the three or so arches that could just be viewed, if looing out for it, from the Soldiers Pass trail. Once we made it up the largest arch we stopped and had a sustenance break. I wanted to get right underneath each of the arches and soon found pathways leading me to each: Hassan soon joined me.

Soldiers Pass, the biggest arch Looking out from the biggest arch The smallest and probably newest arch formation The second middle arch

The first arch, the biggest, was more like a cave. Whereas the second (the next biggest) was a bridge as once we got underneath it was clear to see that erosion had occurred and there was a space behind it and the cliff face. At one point I could see a rock that was wedged above into gap. It looked a little fragile this rock (or rather boulder) hanging there above us (and here I think of the artwork of Michael Heizer). The third arch (and the smallest) was also a bridge but it was still connected to the cliff face at one place in the middle so there were visible two gaps up to the sky when looking up from underneath. There was also a small cave forming a little higher up the cliff face and it looked as if it was a young arch in the throws of forming. These formations were great. In the small space of the cliff face there was what appeared to be 3 perhaps 4 arches at various forms of age in their development. I couldn’t help but think of time and erosion when observing its various subtleties on display with these arches.

We drank down some more water and made the descent back down, soon we were back on Soldiers Pass Trail and shortly afterwards at the Seven Sacred Pools that Hassan and I trekked to the week before last, followed by the extraordinary Devil’s Kitchen Sinkhole. It was another 30-minutes walking on the Jordan Trail, with excellent views looking all the way in the distance to Bell Rock, before making the 20-minute up and over Cibola Pass and back to the car. All in all it was just under 4 hours of walking, about 7 miles in distance (just over 11 kilometres): not bad before breakfast.

We were back in no time sitting around the breakfast table eating leftovers from last nights awesome dinner, washed down with ice cold fruit smoothies and a big bowl of freshly cut fruit. Charlotte asked if I would like to see a house around the corner with amazing views that they are keeping an eye on for the owner who lives somewhere else. I said yes, so we drove a few streets away and sure enough the views from the balcony out the back were spectacular. (The house is for sale if anyone is interested, offers around US$1million considered) Charlotte opened the house up a bit as houseguests were soon to be arriving there later in the day. I helped her before driving their daughters car, which was being stored in the garage, back to their place.

From underneath the second arch

For the next few hours I did some writing at the casita, drove into West Sedona, filled the car up with petrol (and talked for a while with a really lovely tattooed lady behind the counter whose boyfriend was on military duty in Darwin of all places), and made a quick stop at Safeway for supplies. Back to the casita, I finalised my powerpoint display for tonight before it was time to walk on over to Sedona Arts Centre for their First Friday reception of the month - a gallery opening spectacular whereby most galleries in town stay open from 5 until 8 and host openings/events.

Looking up from underneath the big arch One of my favourite places, Devil's Kitchen sinikhole Arch number three This can be yours for a million clams

I set up my laptop and looped the powerpoint display. I was in a room with a bunch of other visiting artists who were undertaking a 10-day residency at the centre (including John and Souheir from last night) all of whom at come from Montana. The woman coordinating it, fiber artist Jan Shanahan, was really lovely as was the women at the table next to her, artist/designer Linda Katsuda (who just happened to be treating her residency like mine and was hiking everywhere). I bought a really beautiful hand made card from Linda and we talked for a while about art, Tasmania and Montana, and spirituality in the sense of art and connecting with nature.

I’m glad I was in this room as all of the Montanan artists were lovely people. But that’s not all, there was also group of four younger artists who had just arrived the night before from Ohio and who were just commencing a 2-week residency also facilitated by the arts centre. And like the Montanan artists, the Ohio artists were also great to talk with. The four of them will be working on a really interesting project titled Fourfor: coordinates in a landscape, and involves performance and documentation (with a drawing bent) of the four artist’s bodies in natural settings - that takes its cue from Richard Long’s performance/documentation “Line Made by Walking” and the Fluxus composition “Draw a line and Follow it.” All four of them are midway through their masters (a masters degree is the highest academic level that one can accrue in the arts in the US, there is no Phd degree available) and are using their residency as a bit of a creative collaborative sideline.

So for the next 3 and half hours in the arts centre I met a bunch of other people from locals to tourists, a really lovely German woman from Stuttgart and the list goes on and on. It was a busy affair; loads of people came through much to Eric, the director of the arts centre’s, delight helped along as in the room next door was the centre’s annual Members' Summer Co-op Exhibition showcasing the work of dozens of local artists work in ceramics, the jewelry, painting photography and a little bit of drawing.

I packed up with others just before 8, said my goodbyes to the Montanan artists who were leaving for home tomorrow, and received two lovely offers of invitation that if ever I was up that way that I should came and stay with them or plan a residency (and I must say that some of the photos they showed me of the mountains in Montana looked amazing).

I walked back up the casita and was pretty tired by now. I checked my Health app and had walked over 20,000 steps today, climbed 97 floors and walked 14 kilometres. Nice one and no wonder bed was looking so very appealing.