After a long weekend in Durango, I decided to stay local and enjoy an off-the-beaten-path area of northern Arizona. Edge of the World (also know End of the World to some) is located about 20 miles southeast of Flagstaff. I decided to make the weekend a solo venture- for meditation practice actually. I packed up the car and headed out into the woods late Friday night.
The tent was pitched without incident. Concerned about bears in the area, dinner was made far away from camp from the trunk of my car. Everything was smooth until I tucked in for the night. I turned my headlight off and no more than two minutes after my head hit the pillow, a large rustle came from the nearby brush. A bear…great…what a weekend to forget my bear spray. No later than a minute after realizing that I had nothing to defend myself in the tent, the bear started clawing at the tent’s rain-fly. After several minutes of panic, I muscled up the courage to shout at the bear. After shouting and shaking the tent, the bear wandered away from the tent and eventually left camp. As you can imagine, I slept horribly the rest of the night. Between a fear that the bear might return and the constant howl of coyotes, it was a rough night.
I awoke in the morning (alive) ready to explore the views and the one and only established trail – the AB Young Trail. After a quick breakfast, I hit the trail with the intent to hike four miles down to Oak Creek and back. Considering the hike was all downhill to the river, it was a great time. After spending an hour eating lunch on the creek and walking the banks, I decided to head back up the trail to camp. The hike was a steady climb so my pace was slow…until I noticed an approaching thunderstorm. With no cover except near the top of the trail (nearly two miles away), I decided to put some pep-in-my-step. My light jog increased to a full trail-run as the thunderclaps grew louder. I was also not the only thing in the desert concerned about the approaching storm. I had to literally jump over two rattlesnakes that were slithering on the trail trying to find shelter. My loud steps and breathing were enough to provoke both snakes into their striking pose but luckily neither rattlesnake took a strike with me.
By the time I had reached the top of the trail, it was pouring dime-sized hail and lightning was striking nearby trees. With another mile of road to get back to my camp (and car), I realized the gravity of the situation. Fortunately, I was not alone at the top of the trail and soon found myself seeking shelter in a stranger’s car. The four of them were caught off-guard as well and were thankful for a roof and rubber tires to absorb any lightning strike. I managed to snap a photo of the hail storm from the car window. After nearly an hour, the storm passed overhead and exposed a blue sky. What an afternoon!
I spent the rest of the day and night hiking to the various cliffs around the rim of the canyon taking photos of the big views, afternoon glow, and the subsequent sunset. I awoke the next morning without any incidents occurring overnight- enjoy the little things. A storm was passing overhead to the south of me and I managed to witness a sunrise with a double rainbow over the valley below. After nearly two hours of photographing the storm, I packed up the car bound for a shower and a hot meal. I walked away from the weekend after encountering a bear, two rattlesnakes, and some serious Arizona monsoon weather.
I’m truly grateful that I walked away without a scratch because it could have been a lot worse.
Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he’s not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.