Despite hundreds of photos and hours of GoPro footage , not even the Xtreme Dream Team was able to fully capture the beauty of Sedona on Tuesday’s hike. The photo taking began as we rode in our great white van down Oak Creek Canyon. As we turned each winding corner, a new vista took our breath away. Cell phone cameras snapped away with increasing frequency until we finally reached Sedona itself.
Team Extreme immediately began to feel good vibes as the van rolled through town passing a myriad of crystal shops, meditation centers, yoga studios, psychics and other new age health specialists. We picked up a flyer at the tourist shop that told us about the Sedona energy vortexes.
What is a vortex??
According to the Sedona Visitor Center, a vortex is a funnel shape created by a whirling fluid or by the motion of spiraling energy. The vortexes in Sedona are unique because they were created by spiraling spiritual energy. This energy facilitates prayer, meditation, and healing. Millions of years ago, the red rocks of Sedona were a part of a vast ocean. As the ocean receded, the rocks were worn and smoothed by wind and sediment. Iron oxide eventually covered the sandstone rocks and created rust. This gives the rocks their red color.
A local Sedona dweller told me that the mystery of the good vibes lies in the red rocks, which emit iron oxide into the air. Hikers abosorb the iron orally as they breathe. This gives them an abundance of energy and mood boost. ….Team Xtreme has yet to verify this claim in any physiological source.
Although the energy of the Boynton Vortex cannot be recorded or quantified, changes in the vibes of the Xtreme Team were certainly noticeable as the hike progressed. The orange rocks contrasting against the blue sky provided continuous opportunities for Instagram photos with the hashtag “nofilter.” The landscape was covered with diverse plant life from prickly pear cacti, to calming sage and sweet-smelling juniper. The hikers soon split into two groups: the trailblazers and those who hung back to make sure that they did not miss one. single. picture. The back of the pack felt “high on life” and stopped frequently to marvel at the beauty of every branch. Eventually, the troop reached the center of the Boynton Vortex. Here, a circle of colorful crosses surrounded a Manzanita bush while the red rocks and blue sky stretched across the backdrop. We all felt compelled to form a circle and begin chanting around the vortex. When the ritual was complete, the group members concluded that they felt a change in their individual energies. To this day, no one can accurately describe the phenomenon. We conclude that the best way to understand the power of the vortex is to experience the vortex first-hand.
For me, the focus of this hike was more spiritual than physiological. The usual Xtreme Team mantra “Do it for the VO2,” no longer seemed relevant to me. While we are here to learn about our bodies’ responses to exercise and extreme environments, I think it is important to reflect on the cognitive and emotional benefits of living an active lifestyle. Getting outside and pushing our bodies everyday makes us all feel alive and more at peace. It reminds us to be thankful for our bodies, yet remember that we are more than just our physiology. Hiking through Sedona gave me the perspective that we are spirits having a physical experience.
We continued on our journey and finally reached Boynton Canyon. Upon entering the canyon clearing, I began to understand how small I actually was. The rocks stretched hundreds of feet below us and continued above our heads to graze the sky. We took in the beauty as we ate our sandwiches and posed for more extreme photos.
Eventually we hiked back and piled into the van. Just as we thought we were done for the day, the van pulled into the parking lot of Fay Canyon. There were still miles to hike before we slept. On this trail, we saw a few mystical hippie hikers with long beaded dread locks and flowing frocks. We knew we were in for a climb when Dr. Sweeney told us to “get ready to scramble.” At the end of the path lay a mountain of red rocks with no clear direction in which to proceed. Would another group of hikers have turned around? Perhaps. But the Xtreme Dream Team is always up for a challenge. We “scrambled” to the ledge and climbed higher and then even higher until we were sure we had the best possible view. We took selfies galore from precarious positions as our professors reminded us to “be careful.” At the end of the day, our phones and GoPros were full of pictures to show our families and good vibes coursed through our veins. However, the photos could not truly capture the magic of Sedona. The humble feeling of insignificance felt when standing near the large canyons, the warmth of the sun, and the crispness of the air are all lost in the lens of the iPhone. The powerful energy and majestic views are best remembered as a full personal experience of body and spirit rather than just a photograph.
Erika, for the Xtreme Dream Team