Near Soldiers Pass trailhead.

• Hiking in Sedona, Arizona.
• The devil’s kitchen.
• The seven sacred pools.
• Rattlesnake.
• Spiritual thought.


A striking outcrop soaring above a blooming white bush.

Mountain fins separated over time by erosion.

I AM IN SEDONA, ARIZONA, where the red rock scenes are grand. If I were asked to design heaven, these red cliffs would be the first wonders I would install.

So at 8 am I am the second car through the gate to access Soldiers Pass trailhead…. a two mile hike on the outskirts of Sedona. Soldiers Pass road comes off highway 89A, on the west side of town. It’s a cool morning but I ditch my sweater since the maximum temperature is anticipated to be 79 degrees. I’m hiking in shorts.

As well as the red rocks, my hiking stick is also a wonder. Six feet of light but tough wood from the spine of a yucca tree. Three folks comment on this hiking stick because its painted with Mexican birds and cactus plants. I explain I bought it at Big Bend National Park, in Texas on the border with Mexico. Yes, at Big Bend the Rio Grande separates the two countries, and when I was there you could walk across the river. The hiking stick was for sale but I had to insert $6 in a glass jar (this was several years ago). The stick was made by an unknown person in Boquillas del Carmen, a tiny village in Mexico.

The devil’s kitchen: a sinkhole extending the width of this picture. A big slab has fallen out of the far side. Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog article.

THE FIRST LANDMARK OF THE SOLDIERS TRAIL WAS THE DEVIL’S KITCHEN….actually a large sinkhole about 30 yards across and 20 yards deep. The other sinkholes I know and love are in Santa Rosa, a small town in New Mexico. The blue-hole in Santa Rosa is famous for swimming and diving all year round since the water temperature changes very little from summer to winter. It’s a beautiful area if you ever drive along I40 through New Mexico.

THE SECOND LANDMARK OF THE TRAIL WAS THE SEVEN SACRED POOLS, sometimes called water-pockets, which are formed by water erosion. At 8:30 am I discovered six persons, men and women plus one boy, each sitting on a rug and meditating with backs vertical, hands uplifted, and eyes closed. Sedona is a spiritual place, with many denizens following new-age practices.

Three of the sacred pools, with meditators in the center of the photo. Click to enlarge then back-arrow to return to blog article.

BELOW ARE SELECTED PICS OF MY HIKE, WHICH COVERED ABOUT 3 HOURS. It was a joyful experience, and my senses were sharpened by the attractions all around me. I couldn’t help but thank God for the beauty of his creation. And to thank him for my legs that could walk, and my eyes that could see.

Part of the trail through a forest of pinyon and juniper trees. I have never seen such tall trees of this kind.


These pretty red flowers are called scarlet trumpet.


Creamy-colored flowers of the spanish bayonet.


I love cacti in bloom. This may be a pincushion cactus and was the only cactus bloom I saw the whole day.












POST-SCRIPT 1…. RATTLESNAKE: When I headed home I intercepted this guy in the middle of the road. Maybe 4 feet long. A flickering tongue and small black beady eyes seemed to say, “Don’t come any closer buddy.”

Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog article.











POST-SCRIPT 2…. SLIDE ROCK STATE PARK: Next day was hotter, so I headed for cooler parts. My brother Clive and I put on our swimsuits and let the water sweep us down several small waterfalls. Wait….. that was 40 years ago, and I’m dreaming memories!

Fun in the water at Slide Rock state park. Click to enlarge, then back-arrow to return to blog article.















POST-SCRIPT 3…. SPIRITUAL THOUGHT: After I returned from the hike, I read the following in a website blog about David Attenborough filming of New Guinea’s birds of paradise and their glorious plumage.

But I wonder if he’s [David] had a history of overlooking the evolutionary explanations in favor of showing the wonders of nature. But in the end, by and large those wonders are a product of evolution….. How can you not marvel at these displays—but also wonder how they evolved?

The author insists the male birds’ plumage comes about “naturally” via sexual selection over millions of years, but admits that no-one can explain why the females prefer certain traits more than others. The author is an avowed atheist. It’s interesting that evolution is often presented as a complete story, and therefore there is no need for God.

I guess I’m simple-minded enough to credit God with the wonders of nature, whether they be the red rocks of Sedona or the plumage of a bird of paradise. To me, God is an explanation for the unexplainable, like who made gravity, and why its force falls off with distance squared. Honestly, I’m perfectly happy believing in God and exploring a personal relationship with him.

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The Gray Nomad
Think well, and help someone to hope.

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works—
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
[Book of Psalms: chapter 145]

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4 Responses to Hiking Toward Heaven: Soldiers Pass in Sedona



  2. Ian,
    We hiked the red rocks of Sedona this January for my birthday. They were topped with snow and ever so elegant and magical. Churches on every corner, a place where the Book of Nature and the Book of Scripture intersect in such a powerful way! Thank you for your post, I love Sedona, and with over 100 hikes to explore it is a gift that keeps giving sheer surprise and delight.
    I believe God used His wondrous tool of evolution to create such beauty. Who are we to question what tools He chooses to create and use or not use? Why do we limit Him with “our ways and understanding”– where is our humility before Him? The bible is a book of redemption, not a book of science. May we never lose our sense of wonder!!

  3. Thanks for another super blog post. I very much enjoyed the pictures and the dialog; and the Psalm. We are pleased you and Mary Ann had a great visit to Sedona. Makes me want to visit there again, and do some hiking. I appreciate your efforts to bring these wonderful blogs to us.

  4. Oh my goodness it looks so beautiful. I have never been in Arizona to see the red rocks and moutains, but one day I will make a trip there. But it have to snake free zone.. I hate them. I hope all is well.


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