One advantage of family and friends staying with us for vacation is revisiting old stomping grounds like West Fork Trail, Oak Creek, just outside of Sedona. It’s very popular, so if you don’t go first thing in the morning, you have to share the trail with hundreds of others. I nudged everyone out the door at 6:45 a.m. to get a spot in the parking lot before hearing the “call of the canyon.”
Ah, speaking of Zane Grey, The Call of the Canyon was one of his many books that had a film version from the silent era. During the creative process, it was this entrance into the canyon Zane Grey was thinking about. In fact, celebrities like Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart stayed at the Mayhew Lodge when filming in the area before it collapsed in to ruin leaving only remnants of its structure. Here are a few morning shots:
It’s 1928, and fictional characters Kay, the Hopi Indian, along with Sally and George are included in a gentleman’s exploration of Sycamore Canyon with a band of real-life characters.
Sally sat on a tall, blonde horse next to the others and tried not show her nervousness. She had little experience riding, but she wouldn’t miss this opportunity to be around these many men who interested her: The director, William Howard, who she hoped would cut her a break and let her do more in his next picture than stand around now as an extra in The Thundering Herd. His cinematographer,Lucien Adroit, who was excited to film footage for a future project. Jack Holtz was an established star in Howard’s westerns. Zane Grey was a famous writer and his stories were made into movies by Paramount Pictures. Adventurer Billy Clark was the grandson of William A. Clark, the copper baron. As a major stockholder, Billy oversaw the United Verde Copper Company and the company town, Clarkdale. Finally, she was sweet on Gary Cooper. This was his first film, and he had charmed Howard with his potential to be a star. His face was soft and his eyes dreamy. She saw them as a dynamic couple where they could help each other rise to stardom. She wanted to kiss him and mean something to him, but if not, at least he was good looking and more fun to flirt with than the other older men. This camping expedition had a purpose. Sally knew from her mother that it was the associations you made that got your foot in the door, not your talent. One of these men would bend her way and help her advance. She would see to it.
William Howard picked her a gentle mare named Marigold, and as she sat there waiting, Sally relaxed a bit and let the anticipation fill her. They were on the top of a plateau looking north across the valley to a range of bluffs layered in red sandstone, limestone, and siltstone. To get there would take all morning after a gradual descent across exposed flat land through juniper and creosote bushes and a large mound which Zane Grey said was a volcanic deposit, but to Sally, the solitary hill made her think of a chocolate Hershey’s Kiss…