Vacations should be approached in the same manner as we parent our small children: Plan ahead, prepare for anything, and then be completely prepared to change everything. Think of Flexibility as the ultimate no fee(!) carry-on travel item.
Sticking with an original plan can mean missing out on an unforeseen opportunity or having to endure an anticipated experience instead of getting to enjoy it. An adjustable itinerary is truly an adventure maximizer, and a prime example would be our response to the spring weather we encountered in Arizona last year.
The decision not to hike into the Grand Canyon against 65mph gusting winds wasn’t too difficult, especially after a warning from a Park Ranger. We were able to shift reservations and return to the Canyon on a better (safer!) weather day and enjoyed a “Plan B” trip to Walnut Canyon cliff dwellings near Flagstaff in the meantime. We made another such adjustment in Sedona towards the end of our trip.
Devil’s Bridge sounded like a good warm up hike to us one morning. It was short but physically demanding, with what had to be a great view at the midpoint. The road in to the trail head was not exactly rental car worthy, however. When I spotted a girl running ahead of an exiting car tossing rocks out of the way and motioning the driver to adjust mere inches to the left and right for passage, my reservations grew. When the girls finally pulled even to us, they strongly suggested parking where we were and hiking in the mile or so to the trail head. Sounded like wisdom to me. We were there to hike anyway, so we grabbed our packs and started down the road. But within half a mile the warm and sunny morning dissolved as fast-moving storm clouds moved in, and within a few more paces we were pelted by hail. The storm had appeared so abruptly that I had slight hopes of the system also moving out quickly. I pulled out an extra way-too-small shirt for Zach to wear and we trudged into the wind, optimism dwindling with each gust. When a silver Nissan appeared, we knew it to be both a sign and a gift and gratefully climbed into the back seat for a ride back to our car.
The ladies had finished their hike just ahead of the storm, and we happily compared notes on other area hikes as the car inched ever so slowly down the pitted rocky road. Two additional passengers did nothing for the vehicle’s clearance however, and so as we neared our car, all of us but the driver hopped out to toss aside rocks and cheer her on through the last stretch of road.
Ironically the weather just as abruptly segued back to sunny, but Bear Mountain, our headliner hike, beckoned, and time was short. We resigned ourselves to missing the actual Bridge but knew we had still had a little hiking adventure that morning despite going nowhere at all.
And I’ll get back to Sedona for the Devil’s Bridge another time. Soon.
Updated from June 15, 2010.
More album photos: Heather Dugan Creative on Facebook2 Comments