Updated: Aug 3
Never heard of Sedona? Surprisingly, we hadn't either. At least it wasn't on our radar. To us, Sedona was always known as that weird trip that Las Vegas Time Share companies would award you with if you agreed to sit through their agonizing two hour presentation.
A few years back, during Christmas break, we were on an extended road trip through Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. We were searching for unique Christmas festivities for our stop during Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Every search pointed to the very popular Tlaquepaque Christmas display in Sedona, we were nearby and this seemed like an intriguing way to enjoy the holiday, so we plotted a course in that direction.
We had no idea what Sedona really was or what to expect. Each day that we were there, we discovered endless opportunities for exploration. Our travel itinerary took us to different Sedona landmarks. We hiked long trails with steep climbs, low valleys, lose rocks, and incredible views. By the second day, we had fallen in love with Red Rock Wilderness and extended our trip two additional nights.
As soon as we returned home, we started planning our next big hiking adventure to Yosemite. Unfortunately, the trip to Yosemite was derailed by a serious knee injury.
Just a few short weeks after returning from our Sedona adventure, I tore my ACL and meniscus in the gym (insert super sad face). The surgery was delayed ten weeks due to the Covid pandemic, and I was on crutches for an additional five weeks due to extreme atrophy.
Nine months after surgery, we were invited to Arizona for my nieces destination wedding. In an amazing stroke of luck, the wedding would be held right outside of Sedona!
We were super excited! My knee was rehabbed at this point and I was happy to test it out. We planned to arrive a few days before the wedding and to stay a few days after to explore more of what we missed the first time around.
During our first visit, we had hiked Wilson Mountain trail, which is close to 10 miles round trip with an elevation change of nearly 2500ft. The trail is considered difficult and strenuous. Due to our ignorance, we were caught completely unprepared. We had only two bottles of water and a package of M&M trail mix in our backpack, and we were wearing running shoes. It was quite the sight seeing us climb over very rocky trails in this barely marked climb. When the rocks weren't digging into the soles of our feet, we were sliding around the trails. When we finally made it back to the car after finding our way through the dark, we vowed to never hike unprepared again.
Even though I had made it to the 9 months mark post- surgery on a torn ACL, there was still a long road to recovery. I knew that a week of hiking Sedona was going to require me to gradually increase my activity level in advance of the trip and I would need the proper footwear this round to protect my knee.
On the last trip, we saw the pro's going up and down the trails without any problems. No pain, no sliding, no tumbles, no falls. The difference between us and them was that they were invested in great trail shoes. Trail shoes are a godsend for hikers. They are non-slip, often water proof, and can even protect your ankles if you're prone to clumsiness or... scorpions!
I researched a ton of brands and visited our local sports store but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted. I ended up purchasing a pair of Merrell trail shoes for about $100. And let me tell you, they were worth every penny...I would have gladly paid more! The Merrell's did not require any break-in time. They were good to go as soon as I put them on my feet on the first day. When I started out the trip, I was concerned for my knee. by the second day, I 100% trusted these shoes and was able to hike with renewed confidence and sure-footedness for the rest of the trip. If you're looking to make your hiking trips a lot more enjoyable (and safe), then invest in a good pair of trail shoes.
Unless you're used to hiking long distances in the desert heat, chances are the trails in
Sedona are going to be a bit of a shock to your system. Not only are they longer than most trails, but the heat can be relentless, especially in the Summer. That's why it's important to carry more water than you think you'll need. As a rule of thumb, each person in your party should drink a gallon of water per day. That may seem like a lot, but trust us, it's necessary.
And if you're not used to hiking at high altitudes, you might want to consider carrying some snacks to help keep your energy levels up. The last thing you want is to bonk halfway through your hike and have to turn back. In addition, I always make sure to pack a few Gu Gels when I head out on a long hike. For those of you who don't know, Gu Gels are basically like energy drinks in gel form. They're filled with electrolytes and carbs, which makes them perfect for staving off bonking (aka hitting the wall). I first discovered them when I started running marathons, and they've been a lifesaver on more than one occasion. Whether I'm climbing up a steep trail or just plodding along at a steady pace, Gu Gels give me the boost I need to keep going. Trust me, they'll change your life.
As any active hiker knows, muscle cramps can be a real pain - literally. Sometimes, it seems like no amount of stretching or massage can make them go away. This is no fun when you're 4 miles from your car. However, there is one unlikely home remedy that can provide quick relief: pickle juice. That's right - that delicious briny liquid left over from your last jar of dill pickles can help to alleviate muscle cramps in a matter of minutes! The reason pickle juice is so effective is because it contains high levels of electrolytes, which are essential for proper muscle function. So next time you're on a long hike or working out hard, make sure to keep pickle juice stocked in your backpack. It might just save you from a world of hurt.
Sometimes you also need to plan for misinformation. On our first trip to Sedona, we researched the trails we wanted to experience. After researching Wilson Mountain Trail, we knew that this would be a difficult trail and we knew that it would be a 10-mile trip. Unfortunately, we were led to believe that this could be accomplished in a much shorter time frame, so imagine our horror when we were still an hour from the car when the sun set and we were plunged into darkness. A barely visible trail is challenging enough without the promise of Scorpions, Tarantulas, Bob cats and the occasional Bear. Make sure that you give yourself ample time to complete your journey. Expect it to take longer than the internet claims. And, make sure to always pack a headlamp or flashlight...just in case.
Anyone who's ever gone on a hike knows that there's nothing worse than being unprepared. Blisters, twisted ankles, and hungry bellies are all trail hazards that can be easily avoided with a little bit of planning. Be safe out there. Happy Hiking!
~ Tiffany & Tim
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