Posted: June 17, 2016 in Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,


It was a stunning May afternoon when Caryn and I drove to the outskirts of Sedona. Our goal was to hike the Boynton Canyon Trail. Local legend claimed the trail led to the elusive Boynton Vortex, a mystical spot of spiritual renewal and comfort. I was both skeptical and intrigued with the idea that a physical place can profoundly affect your physical being. Frankly, skepticism held more sway. However, it is pretty hypocritical to say you are open-minded and then shut down something simply based on unsubstantiated cynicism. So we sought out the trail in search of the vortex. At worse the anticipated views held enormous promise.

We parked the car, found our way to the trailhead, and set out. The trail was not well marked. It was rocky and uneven with a slight upward grade. When faced with a directional option, we generally made the right choice. It was also helpful hikers passing from the opposite direction shared contented smiles. Maybe it was the after effects of the vortex, maybe it was they were now hiking on a downward grade.

We reached a clearing a few hundred feet below the base of two large, vertical rock formations. They were parallel, although not next to each other. We figured the vortex was somewhere between the two. The problem was the trail’s grade suddenly transformed from mild and pleasant to steep and uninviting. I believe the official term for such a dramatic change in grade is “yousummabitch.” Still, how good can a vortex be if you don’t have to exert a bit of effort to reach it, even if it requires a Sherpa?

We made the ascent with far less drama than a good story demands. Some folks coming down confirmed our assumptions. “Yep, the vortex is up there.” Reassurance, a wonderful thing.

The trail’s end dumped us onto a small plateau between the two formations. It was windy and mostly quiet. Occasionally the sound of a car passing below on some distant road cracked the silence, but that was a minor distraction. The views north and east were wonderful. The view west was also terrific as long as you kept your eyes perfectly level and didn’t look down at a sprawling resort. To be fair, the resort was artfully incorporated into the surroundings. Still, I imagine the Anasazi people who once populated this land would have found it odd.

Other hikers were already on the plateau, some quietly enjoying the moment, others bopping and blathering about…well, let’s just say a bit more vivaciously than the etiquette encouraged. Caryn and I found a fine place to sit, rest, and just be. The cool breeze was great, but neither of us got swept up in the magic of a vortex. Of course, it is quite possible we would not have known we were experiencing the magic of a vortex even if we had been. Vortex familiarity is beyond our scope of experience.

After a while a hearty, healthy looking man also arrived at the vista. He spoke with each person before he made his way to us. He carried a flute and his name was Robert. He handed us two heart shaped stones and spoke of the power of unconditional love, oneness with nature, and the special energy radiating from this majestic place nestled between the two rock towers. He said the formations were the “divine masculine” and the “divine feminine.” He was kindly, soft-spoken and sincere, without a hint of artifice. He eventually climbed to the top of the “divine masculine” and sat down. He played eight songs on his flute. Before each song he spoke of its meaning – love, courage, joy, etc. He wasn’t speaking directly at any of us who happened to be there. Rather he was speaking to the place. And as he played the chatter of the hikers slowly fell silent. By the third song the only sounds were his voice and his flute. It was rather extraordinary.


Divine Masculine (left) and Divine Feminine (right)

He finished his music and climbed back down. He said he tried to come to this place at least once a day, twice whenever possible, to speak with people, give them stones, play his flute, and remain connected to Mother Earth.

Did we experience a life-changing spiritual epiphany tucked between the “divine masculine” and the “divine feminine” towers? No. Did we feel the power of the mysterious Boynton Vortex? Again, no. However, thinking about it now a few weeks later I wonder if the true power was not some perceived quirky geophysical anomaly. Perhaps it was in the soul of an ordinary person who chooses to spend his days giving strangers heart-shaped stones, playing simple music in a beautiful natural setting, and bringing a small measure of peace and serenity to those whose path he crosses. And if that what a vortex offers, it is time to seek out others.


  1. rangewriter says:

    Fascinating adventure. I’m a cynic, like you, so your first paragraph suckered me right in. I have been to places that quelled my inner cynic and made me wonder what it was I was feeling. I suspect the number of other “visitors” to the Vortex interfered with your “mystical” experience.


  2. Kayjai says:

    Sounds like a great hike to me!


  3. Esther Erman says:

    Lovely, John. Thanks for sharing — and now I’m really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Sedona.


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