Hiking is a very therapeutic activity.It allows you to walk away from your stressful student life of homework, projects, midterms, professors, and those annoying kids who always break the curve on the test.
I don’t think it’s possible to be stressed on a hiking trip, because you leave the stress behind at the trailhead to relax with a few good friends. It doesn’t matter what you believe, hiking is a good rest for your mind, a good exercise for your body, and a good refueling for your soul.
When you leave your everyday life behind for a few hours it makes you feel all around healed.You can admire the beauty of the natural formations around you and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that you get from a really long hike.
Bell Trail 13 is an 11 mile round trip hike that runs parallel to Beaver Creek, close to the Verde Valley off of I-17.About 4-4.5 miles down the trail, the creek gives way to a breathtakingly beautiful natural swimming hole.
Here is the website for the trail: http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/coconino/recreation/red_rock/bell-tr.shtml
I heard about this hike from one of my friends on campus and it presented an exciting challenge to me.Armed with a 4 liters of water in my camelback, some snacks, and a ton of sunscreen, a couple of my friends and I began the hike.Between the three people on our hike we carried about 12 liters of water in at the beginning of our hike.
On this particular Saturday we were experiencing a bit of a heat wave, and though we hadn’t really seen temperatures above the low 80s in Prescott, we faced temperatures in the upper 90s on the hike.Being college students that don’t like to get up super early, and having gotten lost on the way to the hike, we began our trek close to midday.
Most of the hike runs up on a hill off to the side of Beaver Creek, so there isn’t much shade and the sand path and rocks around it heat up and begin radiating heat back at you.The hike out to the natural swimming hole was pretty intense.We climbed down to the creek a few times to cool off for a while before continuing on our hike.Throughout the hike we had to continuously drink water trying to keep up with the water that we were losing to the dry hot air through our skin.
By the time we got to the swimming hole we were absolutely exhausted and between the three of us we only had a liter and a half of water left. But seeing the beauty and experiencing the cool crisp water of the pond made the hike totally worth it.We stripped down to our swim suits and jumped in.
There were several places in the swimming hole where cliffs over deep water provided safe places to cliff dive. I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to heights, so I jumped off of the smaller four-foot cliffs while my brave hiking companions leaped fearlessly from the twenty-foot cliff into the cold water below.
The water in the swimming hole was pretty clear, and much colder than the outside air.Jumping into the water felt like a total shock to the system.The guys I was with kept laughing at me when I continually surfaced very dramatically in reaction to the cold after jumping off my four foot cliff.
Once you climbed out of the water, it didn’t take very long for the water on your skin to evaporate and the breeze to become warm again.We hung out at the swimming hole till close to 6 p.m. when the sun was no longer high in the sky and the air began to cool a little.
Although two of us brought towels on the hike, we didn’t actually need them.We soaked our clothes in the cool creek water before hiking out and by the time we made it to the car again we were all completely dry again.
When I spend so much of my life being mentally exhausted from my studies, being physically exhausted after a beautiful hike was a satisfying change.The feeling of accomplishment that I walked away with was amazingly uplifting, as was the general sense of awe that I felt at the swimming hole.I’d definitely do this hike again, but I’d start way earlier in the morning on a day that wasn’t quite so hot.