Before that, however, I want to report about one awesome thing that happened yesterday. And no, it is not that University of Michigan beat Michigan State in basketball last night (although I am very happy about that -- sorry Aunt Lynne and Jill). Yesterday morning I received an email from a distant relative in Finland. He and his brother were going through a box of their mother's when they found some letters mailed from Grand Marais. He searched the internet and found my web page, which had pictures of my great grandparents. One of his great grandparents was a sibling to mine. We have started corresponding and will continue to do so. It will be fun.
Each day that Helen was in Arizona, we did at least one hike. Today I'll post photos from a hike that we did on the West Fork trail, located about half way between Sedona and Flagstaff. The trail runs along Oak Creek through a narrow canyon that does not see much of the sun. As a result, the canyon seems frozen in time. Yes, for the day we returned to winter.
The West Fork Trail is accessed off of highway 89A around ten miles north of Sedona. You are invited to go on the hike with us. I am including all the photos in one posting....
At the beginning of the trail, there are the remains of what used to be a famous lodge that was often visited by movie stars and other dignitaries.
One room was carved right into the cliff wall. I went up and checked it out. It was a round room around 12 feet in diameter and 7 feet tall.
Up the river we go. At the beginning, there was still some open water -- and lots of rocks.
The first of 13 river crossings (26 if you count both ways).
Rock cliffs lined both sides of the river. Some of the cliffs were several hundred feet tall.
All along the river were huge boulders that broke off the cliff walls.
The cattails seemed out of place.
We stopped for lunch at what turned out to be one of the only sunny places along the river. When we hiked back to this spot -- even this area was in the shade.
Farther up river there were scoured out sections in the cliff walls, many times on both sides of the river. These, of course, are evidence of the power of the flash floods. The photo below has a top part that is cantilevered out over the river.
There were many icicles along the way....
It seemed strange to see the green equisetum poking up through the snow.
All of the ice was white or clear, except for the yellow tannin stained icicle below...
Around three quarters of the way down the trail, we spotted some boxwork formations.
Boxwork is an uncommon type of mineral structure formed by erosion. It is usually composed of thin blades of the mineral calcite that project from cave walls or ceilings that intersect one another at various angles, forming a box-like or honeycomb pattern.
The boxwork formations were next to a cave carved from erosion out of the cliff wall.
This was one of my favorite sections. I loved the geologically influenced patterns in the rock.
The day we hiked the West Fork trail, there was only one other person who made it to the end other than Helen and I. We could not have done it without crampons and poles. Even with the winter gear, I slipped on the ice twice.
The trail did not continue past the pool at the end. In the summer, people walk in the water.
We took a brief break and then headed back up river to the parking lot.
The temperature difference from the end of the trail and the parking lot was at least 30 degrees.