Cockscomb Trail 1st Attempt

If it can snow in Sedona it can also rain in Sedona. Wednesday was a rain day. More like a torrential downpour. No hiking that day. On the Tuesday it looked as though the rain would hold off. We checked the weather before we left and the forecast was mainly cloudy and no rain.

The plan was to do several loops from the Cockscomb Trail which starts at the Aerie Trailhead. Not wanting to give away any secrets, but the parking at Aerie Trailhead is usually quite open when all the other trailheads in the area are packed. And, on this particular Tuesday, the parking lot was mostly empty.

This is how the hike progressed. Cockscomb to Axis to Rover to Rupp and back to Cockscomb. Our total time on the hike was just over two hours even though we had planned a much longer hike. We covered 4.15 miles and ascended a pretty mild 282 feet. Why such a short hike?


Here is a short overview video of the hike.

We started the hike just after 2pm. Clouds were pretty low and there was little in the way of blue sky to be found. It made the photography challenging. The trail started out fairly flat. We did meet a number of cyclists on the trail. I do not recall meeting any other hikers. Lorraine and I were pretty much on our own.

The mountain off in the distance is called The Cockscomb and it reaches an elevation of 5,016 feet. Our elevation at the start of the hike was just over 4,500 feet. I have to keep reminding myself that our home in Barrie is only 800 or so feet in elevation and hiking above 4,500 feet is considered high altitude. I do work harder when we are tackling hikes with challenging ascents above 4,500 feet. But today? No mountains to climb. Mild up and down movements for the most part.

We are still waiting for the spring flowering season to arrive in Sedona. It usually starts around this time but we haven’t seen much in the way of flowering. At least not yet.

The trail was fairly rocky for the most part. Definitely had to watch our footing.

I do find it a bit unusual to be hiking through a forest when the ground is so rocky.

Another view of The Cockscomb. The trail forks here with the Outer Limits going to the mountain and the Cockscomb trail veering away from the mountain. We debated taking the Outer Limits to Ground Control and looping back to Cockscomb but decided to do a different loop.

The clouds began to look menacing and it certainly seemed like we might see rain. I decided to check my weather app and sure enough they had changed the forecast! Rain would start in about an hour.

Well, here we were, out hiking and we did not want to turn around this soon. We decided on a shorter loop and hopefully the rain would hold off until we got back to the trailhead.

Clouds may or may not work for photography. Certainly the diffusion of light helps to reduce the dynamic range making it easier to get a good exposure. If the conditions are too overcast then the sky is basically gray. And gray never looks that exciting in a photograph. I did my best with what Mother Nature was providing.

The trails in Sedona have a way of moving you from one scene to another as you follow the trail. New landscapes appear almost out of nowhere. Although the day was quickly becoming dark and gloomy, the views were still worthwhile.

The rain started here. A light splattering at first. We had enough time to get out our rain gear and get things like the camera and the camcorder packed away.

Here is a shot of me with the rain gear. The Tilley hat provides decent protection against the rain. My backpack has a rain guard which you can just make out in the photo — it is a green cover that goes over the pack. And the lightweight rain jacket was a gift from my oldest son. A Patagonia Houdini. It rolls up into a very small bundle which makes it easy to throw into the backpack. Definitely handy for when it rains.

Once we had changed over to our rain gear, we really picked up the pace to get ourselves back to the car. From an average moving speed of about 2 miles per hour, we accelerated up to 3.3 miles per hour. I did have time for a couple of final frames before the camera got packed away.

Fortunately we got back to the car before the rain really started coming down hard.

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