On an English hike the worst thing that can happen is you step in cow dung. In America there’s stuff that bites. I love nature. I am just not used to big, wild, ‘tooth and claw’ American nature. So when a girlfriend and I spotted a plump snake on a hiking trail in California, we froze in terror. She dug her nails into my back so hard I couldn’t move. I had to talk her into releasing me as her human shield, so we could both tiptoe backwards down the hill.
Probably like many people, I am an odd mix of scaredy cat and brave. On my second day in Sedona, I set out on a solo hike in Boynton Canyon and at the trail head was a big sign saying: ‘Beware Bears‘. I had no snacks on me (which I had been told by hiking friends are a bear magnet), so I figured I was probably ok. A few hundred yards in was another: ‘WARNING! Bears have been spotted in this area within the last few days.’ I was just about to tiptoe back to the car, when I heard a native American flute trilling in the distance. It was like the Pied Piper calling. ‘I thought this must be safe. There are other people out here.’ Twenty minutes further on, l found Robert, sitting atop an impossibly high rock, playing away like a white Carlos Nakai.
Robert (who lives in a mobile home community for the over 55s) plays every morning atop ‘Warrior Man’, a male energy vortex whose sheer sides defeated nearly every other climber that morning. Directly opposite sits ‘Kachinka Woman’, a female energy vortex. After playing for an hour, Robert hands out heart-shaped stones (‘I spend an hour and make 50,’ he says his pockets bursting with them). He said I was sitting in the perfect location between the two vortices to balance my yin and yang energy. It certainly felt good. And what I thought was bird poop around me, he explained was pockets of tiny crystals. Before spryly skipping off, looking like an American Mr Hulot, he said: ‘Remember. The only thing that matters is unconditional love.’ Rock on Robert.