Soldier Pass

I opted to skip hiking to Devil’s Bridge and went instead up Soldier Pass. Since the lot doesn’t open until 8, I parked about a mile away at the Sedona Dog Park and road walked it in. The air was cooler today, and some clouds dotted the sky. I quickly started making my way up the trail. The views were some of the best of the trip. The light on the rocks made for some great photos, and I felt like I was grabbing my camera every 20 yards.

The first point of interest was Devil’s Kitchen. This is a 150-foot wide sinkhole, and it was quite impressive. A bit after that, I reached the Seven Sacred Pools. A few had some stagnant water in them, and I’m guessing it must the something to see them flowing. But the star attraction was the cave just off the main trail near Brins Mesa. 

Just as I reached the turn-off for the climb up to it, I encountered my first set of hikers, also headed to the same spot. They had parked just outside the gate. Having almost two miles of solitude was lovely. As we drew closer, I could hear voices echoing from within the cave. Once at the cave, three other ladies were there. They had come via the Jordan Trail. With a bit of effort, we made it into the cave. I marveled at the size of this wonder and its importance to the Native Americans.

I scrambled back down, as I did have an 11am check-out time and wanted to grab a shower before hitting the road back to Tempe. The trail was now filling up with people making their way up. I offered guidance to several folks on where to make the turn. A good sized crowd milled around the Seven Sacred Pools, as it is a stop on some of the Jeep tours. That early morning start was so worth it.

As I walked passed the now full lot, my curiosity had me glance over at the car those two ladies had parked. Yup, a citation was tucked under their wiper blade. That was going to be one expensive hike. I began walking back to my car, watching an almost steady stream of cars head to the trailhead, only to be disappointed. A local drove by and asked if I wanted a quick lift back to the dog park. I pulled up my mask and hopped in. He said he often shuttles folks between the park and the trailhead since there is almost no shoulder. He pointed out that the Sunrise Trail helps some, and I mentioned I used it coming up. I thanked him for the assistance. I knew my tracking was going to be funky with that last mile, only to discover I forgot to turn it back on when I left the cave. Oh well.

I am an avid peak bagger, sometimes backpacker, and former sea kayaker living in San Diego. In 2019, I became the third person to complete the San Diego 100 Peak Challenge. Not stopping with that accomplishment, I set my sights on the harder San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list, which I completed in 2021. In addition, I have conquered several Six-Pack of Peaks challenges (SoCal, San Diego, Central Coast, and Arizona-Winter). Beyond attempting the San Diego Sierra Club 100 Peak list a second time, I am looking forward to exploring new summits and new adventures across the southwest. 

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