We parked our rental car, a sprightly Chevy Sonic, in a lot off Highway 180. Bell Rock loomed in the near-distance, rising from the sage brush and crushed red-rock soil. To the right was Courthouse Rock, another natural formation that betrayed the handiwork of a master sculptor.
We checked our water bottles. We reapplied sunscreen. After months in the Northeast’s sunless desolation, our complexions were fluorescent-white. We had no melanin to protect us from Arizona’s beneficent brightness.
We followed the hiking path, empty at this hour, into the desert. Lizards darted before our footsteps. We stared at the face of Courthouse Rock, a rocky facade of footholds and ledges. Our son raced ahead, scampered up the facade’s footholds. He paused on ledge, smiled down at his water-bottle-toting, sunscreen-daubing parents. We were in the West. The sun shone. The blue sky, brushstroked with cumulous clouds, unfurled before us. We were free.
Sedona is, by some New Age accounts, a locus of energy vortexes (not vortices) that promote improved mental and physical health. Bell Rock is among the most powerful of these vortexes, enhancing our masculine vitality, our feminine empathy, and the balance between the two. We hiked past juniper trees, which were plugged into the site’s spiritual power plant. I felt something between awe and gratitude. So much power, so much beauty.
A butterfly landed on my daughter’s shoulder. She allowed the creature to rest. Our son returned from his climb. We still had several miles to hike. Our shoes and socks were already caked with red dust, oxidized iron particles. The energy within us was strong. “Let’s see whether we can scale Courthouse Rock,” I said.