Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fay Canyon Arch, Chimney Rock

I was up before the sun rose this morning, hoping to score a parking space at the magic place just a half mile from our hotel but lo, pre-dawn, every parking spot was already taken. And verily, the crankiness descended upon her.... but lo! she didst solve this problem by getting a cup of strong, black coffee, darker than her irritable soul, before returning to the hotel room where her husband didst still slumber.

Kevin had to work this morning. I amused myself by reading until it was time for not one, but two awesome hikes. 

1. Fay Canyon, and the arch therein. Fay Canyon is not far from where we sought out the Boynton Vortex yesterday - it's pretty much the next little canyon over. There is supposedly one of those cool red rock arches up in it somewhere.

We hiked alllll the way up the canyon and could not find it. We took many pretty pictures, though. On our way down, we were bound and determined to find that sucker. How hard can it be to hide an ARCH?

Apparently, it's easily done. Our mistake was in thinking it would be perpendicular to the canyon wall (joining up two sides of a mini-subcanyon) rather than parallel to it.

Eventually we went up a side trail, toward the canyon wall, toward the overhang in the center of the first photo of this post. 

Just an overhang, right? We made our way closer and closer... it is! hiding in plain sight. 

I wedged myself into the far southern (right, in the picture above) corner to get a picture of it.


On the floor under it, someone(s) had assembled detritus into impressive little walls and chambers. When we first arrived, some hikers were snacking in this spot. They told us we could go around the side and get up on top of the arch. Kevin's checking out the trail in the shot below.

He returned in a hurry. The trail consisted of a wafer-thin ledge with a steep drop off.

FIE! I said, and hustled to investigate. I made it across the wafer-thin ledge and up around a switchback to the beginning of the arch and then...I wussed out. I'm fine with the possibility of plummeting to my destiny on ONE side, so long as I have a rising cliff on the OTHER side, but the possibility of cracking open my wee skull by potentially falling in either of TWO directions apparently only works if I'm in a climbing harness. Who knew?

So in the picture below, I'm on my way back to Kevin, who's tucked away out of sight under the arch. That straight line of sage-green vegetation in the top right quadrant of the photo is the top of the arch (it's flat, not curved). At the base of the cliff in the lower right quadrant is a suggestion of dirt, occupied by various small shrubs. That's the wafer-thin ledge.  

I passed some other climbers on their way down. One of them, a woman, looked pretty scared. We chatted. "Are you OK?" I asked. Yes, she assured me. I said "...because I have magic Reiki hands, just like everyone else in this town." She laughed. She said she also channels light. "Great!" I said. "So here's the technique..." and I made my way along the ledge, saying "channel... channel... shit!shit!shit! channel... channel... shit!shit!shit!" We all giggled. Adrenaline: let it be your friend.

I found my boy. We paused for a selfie.

...and headed back to the main trail to the trailhead and our increasingly muddy car. 

...and THEN we went in search of ANOTHER hike.

2. Chimney Rock, and going all around it. On our way to the trailhead, we passed a lot of other trailheads, and a veritable shit-ton of cars parked all along either side of the road, so we were delighted to find the Thunder Mountain trailhead parking lot almost empty.

A quarter mile or so up the trail, we took in the view of the opposite side of the valley. We're staying at the Sky Ranch Lodge, on the far right side of the mesa in the middle third of the photo below. You can just make out the snow-covered roofs of the little separate 'cabins' that make up the hotel. 

The southern side of Chimney just looks like one monolith...

...but as you round it, on its eastern side, you can see it's not. 

Facing east, away from it, we enjoyed the views of Thunder Mountain. 

Rounding the back of it, to the north, we could see all the places we'd hiked earlier in the day and yesterday.

And finally, the western side of Chimney Rock, just as the afternoon's getting into that glorious, rich light.

By now our knees are a little agitated and we've ruined the hotel bathtub by rinsing great big clods of red mud out of our shoes. We are fully prepared for tomorrow's adventure: the Grand Canyon.

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