by Mike Smith
After a hearty breakfast at home, we headed one hour, 35 miles and 2000 feet of elevation loss to get some trail running down in Sedona. Back in the day, Sedona was a mecca for spiritual healers, crystal worshippers and psychics, but modern-day Sedona is a lot more touristy and built up than what I had expected. We got into town just after 8am, and things were pretty quiet as we made our way to the Munds Wagon trailhead where the day’s journey was to start. I was looking forward to having 2000 more feet of atmosphere above my head, compressing more oxygen molecules into less space meaning more oxygen in every breath. We had the 8-mile Hangover loop in mind, as I had other people I run with suggest it as a don’t miss.
However, at the trailhead, there was no mention of the Hangover trail. The loop starts by running up canyon along the Munds Wagon trail, runs counter clockwise over a saddle and around a giant monolith of orangey-pink rock where it joins the Cow Pie trail for half a mile before it returns to the final two miles of the Munds Wagon trail. Seeing as both Munds and Cow Pie were shown on the map, we struck out for the day’s adventure.
And it was easy to see how the drop in elevation helped in the ability to get your breath. While I wouldn’t call the gain in elevation on the trail easy, it wasn’t the impossible 15 minute miles on the Fatman’s loop, with dots clouding my eyes, the terrain was technical and some of the uphills were steep and slippery. At about three miles your reach the saddle, most of your climbing now in the rearview, with a fantastic look down into Sedona and the surrounding red rock beauty. We stopped often in the corresponding 3 miles to take in the views, because the route was too technical to try to run and view at the same time.
With the final two miles downhill, and the heaving lungs getting a break for once, we were able to run leisurely back to the car, however mindful of the minefield of loose rock and poor footing looking to surprise my wonky ankle. Thirty minutes later we were back to the car, having finished my longest contiguous run since I broke my big toe back in September. It’s easy to see why they don’t identify Hangover on the map, as it’s both technical and strenuous, making it a good idea for people to have to “learn” about it in order to subject themselves to it. As the many pink, spectator friendly, adventure viewing Jeeps that were running alongside Munds Wagon trail indicated, most of the beauty of Sedona is viewed by those looking for it to be easy, keeping Hangover off the beaten path proves a good idea.
After a great meal at Mole, we hopped back in the car and back up to Flagstaff, watching the temperature on the dashboard drop 15 degrees in the hour back up to Flag.
Upon arriving back at home base, we took a leisurely afternoon recovering. This would have been my prime opportunity to take a nap like the pros sometimes do, but as not really my thing I opted for the patio and allow my body the opportunity to convert some sunlight into vitamin D. After a tentative shower (I did get some light chafing out there as it was quite warm and dry on the run) we headed downtown to loosen the legs and find a bite to eat. Once back home, with the temperature a bit warmer than two nights before, we unwound by the firepit. Today’s run might not have been very pro-like, but it certainly was worth it.