Five Shots: West Fork Trail, Sedona

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:   

 

 

 

Red Rocks, Valleys & Writing

The Verde Valley with Mingus Mountain at the horizon
Shaded mound, Sedona Red Rocks at the edge of Sycamore Canyon
hiking the Red Rocks
Devil’s Head plateau
Two Caves
Standing on Devil’s Bridge
All of it.

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…

 

Five Shots: ATV Escapade into Sycamore Canyon

How nice when you meet a local who is also dating your daughter who was willing to share his ATV and his favorite places in our backyard, Sycamore Canyon (21 miles by 7 miles). Thank you, Jared, for being a gracious host. It was the same scenery we were used to but we traveled to different corners and mounds and it felt like a new experience. We wouldn’t have reached many of these locations without the resilient ATV. 

1. On a cloudy warm morning, on the opposite side of the valley, we looked toward the red rocks at the entrance of Sycamore Canyon.
2. On a dirt road getting closer to the unique rock formations.

3. We paused for water. Riding an ATV was loud and bumpy, but the flat spots traveling fast with the wind blowing around you were exhilarating. Being able to ascend and descend 40-degree angles over boulders and misshapen rocks to reach a vista-view was fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4. Getting closer to a popular hiking point of entry into Sycamore Canyon with cliffs and watering holes.

5. On top of the gorge looking down to the Verde River. Notice the train tracks to the right.

6. William A. Clark, copper baron, lay his train tracks to ship out his copper. Now a scenic train ride is a popular tourist destination.
7. Up high admiring the green on the Sycamore trees down by the Verde River.
8. Around an impregnable bump in the train’s path.
9. Down at the river, Milly approves of the new campsite at the river’s edge.
10. A good campsite next to the cool river with a swimming hole saved for warmer weather. Perfect!

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