Don’t Look Up When you are Hiking!

February 04, 2022

By Tina Gia

Interesting views abound along the Aerie and Cockscomb Trails. This tree is a good example of the ruggedness of the terrain.

DON’T LOOK UP WHEN YOU’RE HIKING!!!  This was one of the first things a veteran Sedona Westerner told me when I started hiking in Sedona with the club.  Coming from a lifetime of living at sea level on Long Island, where I could hike, talk, and look around as part of the Greenbelt Hiking Club, this new rule was foreign to me.  Lucky for me I learn quickly.  

Hiking in Sedona is no walk in the woods. If you take your eyes off your feet while walking, you may end up with a broken ankle or falling into some sort of prickly plant.  This hike challenged that “don’t look up” rule.  Driving to the Aerie trailhead, I felt like I was on the highway to heaven, up, up, up, expecting a nosebleed at any moment. 

This 5.5 mile loop hike, combining Aerie and Cockscombe Trails, was rated easy and it was.  I noticed right away, that for most of this hike, I could multi task, walk, talk, and look around without falling off a cliff, into a cactus or twisting my ankle on shaky red rock.   The ground was flat and sandy for most of the hike.  There was elevation but a slow upgrade, not a “huffer and puffer” climb.   I’m not good with elevation so if I’m huffing and puffing, it’s too much.  I didn’t huff and puff a nanosecond on this hike. Yeah!!! We passed Thunder Mountain and Doe Mountain and we were so high up that viewing the vistas bellow was just breathtaking. 

 I think this was an easy hike because, really, my car did all the work to get me to the top.  Yes we were on top of the mountain, but I didn’t have to hike it! This was a loop and we hooked up with Cockscombe Trail, so at times I really did feel like I was going around in circles.  I could see the Aerie parking lot and yet we were hiking around in a circle to get there, when really I could have rolled down the hill and been in my car in less time.  But really it would have been a painful roll, with all the prickly stuff in this Sedona landscape just waiting to needle me all the way down.  

You really just have to do this hike.  In fact, I’m going again this Saturday with friends who will be visiting from Long Island.  They want to go hiking and this is the trail I’m taking them on because you just can’t beat the views and they won’t need oxygen!  

This was a motley crew of Sedona Westerner Rustler hikers in 2 groups. I was the tailgater, which I sometimes like since I don’t have to go so fast and can just hang back with the other slow pokes. The only bad thing is at times I feel like I’m out of the loop of some really juicy conversations.  

I did meet one hiker visiting from the Grand Canyon, where he LIVES.  Yes, you heard me, THE GRAND CANYON.  He drove two hours to hike with us Westerners, whaaat? I guess he wanted a change of scenery.  After all, it must be boring looking at the Grand Canyon all the time.   

I did manage to get into a conversation about wine.  One of the hikers lived for 30 years in France and brought back a gazillion bottles of French wine when he moved to Sedona.  So, of course, I had to ask the question, “So what do you think of Arizona wine”?  Complete silence.  Oh well, let’s talk about something else.  I like dessert. 

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