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Head Injury, Homelessness, and (some day I hope) CranioSacral Therapy

head injury

Head Injury much more prevalent in homeless men than in the general population

 

In a Canadian study , researchers reviewed emergency room records  of the general population compared to men who were either homeless and heavy drinkers, just homeless, or in “vulnerable” housing at risk of being homeless: “In the general population, about 12 in every 10,000 men have a head injury that might involve a brain injury each year. Among the chronically homeless the number is 4,800 every year. Among men who are in low income housing each year, 370 in every 10,000 have such a head injury.”

That is 300 to 400 times the risk! Most epidemiological studies are noteworthy when they find a factor that increases risk by 2 or 3 times. The researchers operate from the model that being homeless (and perhaps intoxicated) leaves individuals vulnerable to being attacked and injured, but they also found that subsequent head trauma became more likely with each previous brain injury, suggesting that disorientation, dizziness, memory loss, or other problems accumulate and make injury a “downward spiral.”

As a CranioSacral Therapist in Sedona, Arizona, I have seen first-hand the difficulties caused by traumatic head injury, even in people who are not homeless, who are in fact fairly well-off. I can’t imagine the compounding effect of head injury in someone who is living “on the edge” already. Despite the known risks of homelessness, seeing these statistics is indeed shocking.

We need to find a way to bring healing to the nervous systems of these people! Not only is it critically important in the present, but what will this population be like in 10 or 20 years, after the effects of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan add to the numbers of men with traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injury (tbi) is considered the “signature injury” of soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. See, for example, this collection of NPR stories on the military’s failure to adequately care for the increasing numbers of soldiers with tbi’s:.

The Upledger Institute has conducted several incredibly successful intensive programs for Vietnam veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It seems these programs are even more needed now, when veterans are returning with sometimes multiple brain injuries as well as the enormous stress associated with combat.

 
Image credit: lightwise

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From My Hands and Heart, by Kate MacKinnon

Here is a lovely video by Kate MacKinnon, explaining what we do as CranioSacral Therapists. Very clear. Kate also has a new book out, that goes into more depth about her journey to CST, including interesting case studies of some of her patients. Nice job, Kate!

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Energy Cysts – Post it notes for the body

Energy Cysts

Energy Cysts are post it notes for the body-mind

When I worked in academics, I would often find myself “multi-tasking” between projects, and coming up with ideas and tasks that I couldn’t deal with in the moment. Since the invention of post-it notes in the 1970s, they were a favorite way for keeping track of these future projects. I would just stick them to the wall above my desk. One day I noticed that the entire wall was covered in yellow notes, and realized that I wasn’t keeping up with the demands on my time and energy. My whole system was getting bogged down, and something needed to change. That realization was the first step in my big career change, that eventually led me down the road to CranioSacral Therapy.

Our bodies have a similar system for storing hurts, memories, and emotions that we are unable to deal with fully at the time they arise. This can be because the injury is too big or traumatic to spend energy comprehending until we have dealt with the immediate survival means, like a broken bone, traumatic head injury, or major surgery. It can also be due to the emotional context of a particular event – loss of a parent (actual or perceived), extreme guilt, shame, or fear. The part of our brain that processes messages from the body says “oops, that’s important, but can’t deal with it now…gotta run and deal with staying alive” or whatever. So, it puts the mental equivalent of a post it note on or in the area of the body that is feeling the impact of whatever is happening.

This system works well for a period of time, sometimes a lifetime, if there aren’t too many post its. For the rest of us, it’s like my experience in my academic office. One day, you add one more little stressor, and the whole system breaks down. Maybe it’s the activation of chronic pain somewhere along the spine. Maybe it’s the shut down of an essential organ, such as the gallbladder (one of our body’s favorite place to store unprocessed toxins). Or, maybe it’s a serious new medical diagnosis, such as cancer, heart disease, or multiple sclerosis. In this Energy Cyst model, the site of the breakdown may vary according to the individual, but the underlying cause of the problem is the accumulation of a lifetime of unprocessed trauma, injury, and tension.

Because of this, the way we approach healing as CranioSacral Therapists differs from the type of treatment administered by the standard Western medical system. Instead of trying to “fix” the broken link in the chain, we ask your Inner Physician “Where should we begin today, in order to bring the greatest healing to your overall body/mind/spirit? The answer is often surprising, not only to us as therapists, but sometimes to clients as well. It’s like you walk into your office one day, look at the mass of yellow notes on the wall, and suddenly see the ONE THING that needs to be taken care of in order to make everything else work better. Then, the overwhelm of sticky notes begins to come down, and all the systems begin to flow. And THAT is why we do what we do in terms of CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release!

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SEED Meditation

SeedToday, I want to talk to you about SEED meditation, because I have just completed a wonderful meditation teacher training with Sarah McLean of the Mclean Meditation Institute right here in Sedona. I am now certified to teach Sarah’s SEED meditation method, which stands for “Simple, Easy, Every Day.” SEED is a symbol for the seed we plant when we begin to meditate. It doesn’t start out as a big, green tree, but just a tiny seed that we care for and nurture every day until it sprouts, and continues to grow throughout life.

What I learned from Sarah is that meditation practice is similar to brushing your teeth. It is not a big, mystical experience in real time, but if we do it consistently, twice a day, we’ll have healthy teeth and gums for the rest of our lives.

One of the biggest misconceptions that I know I had about meditation was that each experience of it would feel deep and blissful. I’ve been practicing meditation off and on for years, but kept thinking I wasn’t doing it right, because my experiences were more along the lines of “oh, wow, my back really hurts,” or “how much longer do I have to sit here?” So I’d “forget” to do it for a while or think maybe it just wasn’t for me.

Learning the SEED method has really opened my eyes up in terms of what to expect from my meditation practice: a slow, steady improvement in my ability to

  • release stress,
  • be in the present moment,
  • be kind to myself and others

all of which allow me to make better choices, and ultimately to live a better life.

So, thank you for that Sarah!

I’m very excited to begin sharing this meditation practice with others in my own “Introduction to Meditation” class on May 18th. If you’d like to learn more about the class, please check out this post, or give me a call and I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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Introduction to CranioSacral Therapy

Introduction to CranioSacral Therapy – May 16-17, 2016

Presented by the Upledger Institute and Joy Nanda, PhD, CST-D
12 CE Units – Tuition $250.00

Dr John Upledger performing CranioSacral Therapy

Dr. Upledger Treating (photo courtesy Upledger Institute)

Here is your opportunity to sample The Upledger Institute’s CranioSacral Therapy I (CST) workshop studied by more than 100,000 healthcare practitioners worldwide. This twelve-hour program is a mix of lecture, demonstration and hands-on practice designed to teach you the benefits of CST along with some basic techniques you can use in practice and for your own health.

CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the function of the craniosacral system — the physiological body system comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Developed by John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, CranioSacral Therapy enhances the body’s natural healing processes to improve the operation of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, enhance health and strengthen resistance to disease.

Among the medical conditions for which CranioSacral Therapy has shown to be effective are:

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Motor-Coordination Impairments
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Orthopedic Problems
  • Scoliosis
  • Infantile Disorders
  • Autism
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Post-Surgical Dysfunctions
  • Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury
  • Emotional Difficulties
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems
  • Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Neurovascular or Immune Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Fibromyalgia and other Connective Tissue Disorders

Course Outline:

Day 1:

9:00 – 10:00 Introduction, History and Concept
10:00 – 11:00 Palpation Lecture/Exercise
11:00 – 11:15 Break
11:15 – 12:30 Listening Stations Lecture, Demo, Hands-On Practice
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 2:30 Fascia Lecture
2:30 – 2:45 Break
2:45 – 5:00 Diaphragm Lecture, Demo, Hands-On Practice

Day 2:

9:00 – 9:45 Sacral Techniques Lecture, Demo, Hands-On Practice
9:45 – 10:45 Dural Tube Rock/Glide Lecture, Demo, Hands-On Practice
10:45 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:45 V-Spread Lecture, Demo, Hands-On Practice
11:45 – 12:30 Stillpoint Lecture, Demo, Hands-On Practice
12:30 – 1:30 Lunch
1:30 – 2:45 Review Demo Two Day’s Techniques, Hands-On Practice
2:45 – 3:00 Closure, CranioSacral Therapy I and The Upledger Institute, Inc. information


Payment Options



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Learn to Meditate

Sedona Meditation Class

Sedona SEED Meditation Class

Learn to Meditate – Select Your Date and Time Below

Presented by Joy Pamela Nanda, PhD, CST
Tuition $200.00 (for up to 6 people)

The SEED (Simple, Easy, Every Day) Meditation Method training is a 2-hour program designed to give beginners all they need to practice meditation at home. It’s also great for anyone who used to meditate and wants to get back on track with their practice.

In this class, you’ll learn how meditation works and explore a variety of meditation techniques, including a silent mantra and breath meditation practice so effective that you can use it for the rest of your life. You will also understand the types of experiences to expect in and out of meditation.

You don’t need any prerequisites to join this class. All your questions about meditation will be answered, and you’ll leave with your own personal practice.

This class takes place at 35 View Drive in West Sedona. See “contact” page for a map. Registration/check-in begins 15 minutes before the start of class. Please ask each member of your group to print out and complete the Learn to Meditate Student Registration Form and either email it or bring to class.


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Cerebrospinal Fluid

So what is this cerebrospinal fluid we CranioSacral Therapists are so interested in? What does it do? Why do we want it to circulate freely? Here’s a really good, simple overview.

cerebrospinal-fluid-in-the-brain-functions-production.html

In this lesson, you’ll learn that you have holes in your brain and that it’s actually a good thing! You’ll also find out how your brain uses a water cushion for protection and where this water cushion is made.

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Mescal Trail Loop

IMG_0275The Mescal Trail is fairly new, accessed from the new parking area on the right side of Boynton Pass Road (152D) just before the Long Canyon parking area. This is not the same as the old Mescal Mountain Trail, which the Forest Service has re-routed to avoid some ruins. The new trail makes a fine loop when combined with parts of the Deadman’s Pass and Long Canyon Trails back to the road.

Winter came late to Sedona this year, making the transition perhaps more of a shock than a gradual cooling through November and December. When a cold rain turned to snow Saturday, many of us in the Sedona Hiking Meetup were ready to give up on this hike. Those that waited for Sunday afternoon were rewarded with stunning views of snow on the mountains and a gradual clearing that warmed our way. A bit of mud on the Deadman’s Pass segment barely slowed us down, and we returned to our cars very much warmed.

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Courthouse Butte Loop

Courthouse Butte, from the Loop Trail

Courthouse Butte, from the Loop Trail

This is a classic Sedona hike — 4.6 miles, fairly level, and awesome views all the way. Our hiking meetup group lucked out on a late November Sunday afternoon that felt more like September. Temperatures were in the mid-seventies at least. I couldn’t hold myself back from scampering on ahead of the group to soak up some alone time with the red rocks, but waited for some company on the last leg on the Bell Rock path. There were LOTS of tourists in the Bell Rock parking lot, but surprisingly not that many on the trail itself. I guess most people are content with a snapshot next to their car. While it’s very scenic from there, believe me, those people don’t know what they’re missing out on the trail.

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Ridge Trail

View from the Ridge Trail

View from the Ridge Trail


After a few hours of diligent house cleaning, I decided to take some time off on a Sunday afternoon for a hike. First, I had to take the household recycling bins to Sedona Recycles on Shelby Road. After doing my duty there, I hopped across the street to the tiny trail head for the Ridge and Old Post trails. Following signs for the Ridge trail, I traveled through several sandy washes, taking a left turn about 20 minutes in to stay on the Ridge trail. Without really noticing it, I was starting to climb up on the “ridge.” About a mile of gradual ascent brings you over the top, looking south into the magnificent valley carved by Oak Creek over millenia. Rising above the green are Courthouse Butte on the left, Bell Rock nestled in the center (notice how much smaller it looks from this vantage point than in the photo taken from the Slim Shady trail), and Cathedral Rock on the right. This trail continues downward towards Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek, but for today the ridge was my ending point. I turned around and got back to my car about 90 minutes after starting out on this adventure. Quite a view for such a short hike from the center of town!

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Broken Arrow Trail to Submarine Rock

View from the Broken Arrow Jeep Trail

View from the Broken Arrow Jeep Trail

It was a cloudy afternoon following two days of unseasonable sporadic showers in mid-October. The grocery stores and movie theater were packed, most tourists having given up on the day for outdoor activities. In addition to the dearth of other hikers or jeep-riders, the recent rains washed out the other bane of this trail, dust. I started from the parking lot at the end of Morgan road in the later afternoon and followed the foot path to Chicken Point until the turnoff for Submarine rock. I didn’t make it all the way up Submarine due to the high water in the wash about 3/4 of the way there. The water wasn’t really that high, but I didn’t feel like rock-hopping or getting wet. Instead, I returned along the wide jeep trail. There was only one jeep out this day, so I had the place all to myself. Cresting a hill, I was amazed by the beautiful light hitting the red rocks ahead. Although I took dozens of shots, I’m not sure the iPhone photos really capture the mystical mood, but take a look anyway. I returned to my car about an hour after setting out, feeling completely rejuvenated.

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What is CranioSacral Therapy?

Drawing of the CranioSacral System
Craniosacral therapy is a subtle and profound healing form that assists the body’s natural capacity for self-repair. This therapy involves assessing and addressing the movement of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which can be restricted by physical or emotional trauma to the body or from the accumulated effects of general stress and tension.

It is a self-corrective mechanism composed of brain membranes and cerebrospinal fluid, which extends from the bones of the skull, face and mouth making up the cranium (head), down to the sacrum, or (tailbone) area. The role of this system in the development and performance of the brain and spinal cord is so vital that an imbalance or dysfunction in it can cause sensory, motor and/or neurological disabilities.

Like the pulse of the cardiovascular system, the craniosacral system has a rhythm that can be felt throughout the body. Using a touch generally no heavier than the weight of a nickel, skilled practitioners can monitor this rhythm at key body points to pinpoint the source of an obstruction or stress. Once a source has been determined, they can assist the natural movement of the fluid and related soft tissue to help the body self-correct. This simple action is often all it takes to remove a restriction.

It was in 1970, during a neck surgery in which he was assisting, that osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first observed the rhythmic movement of what would soon be identified as the craniosacral system. None of his colleagues nor any of the medical texts at the time could explain this discovery, however.

His curiosity piqued, Dr. Upledger began searching for the answer. He started with the research of Dr. William Sutherland, the father of cranial osteopathy. For some 20 years beginning in the early 1900s, Sutherland had explored the concept that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For decades after, this theory remained at odds with the beliefs of the scientific and medical communities. Dr. Upledger believed, however, that if Sutherland’s theory of cranial movement was in fact true, this would help explain, and make feasible, the existence of the rhythm he had encountered in surgery.

It was at this point that Dr. Upledger set out to scientifically confirm the existence of cranial bone motion. From 1975 to 1983 he served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, where he supervised a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers in research and testing. The results not only confirmed Sutherland’s theory, but led to clarification of the mechanisms behind this motion – the craniosacral system. Dr. Upledger’s continued work in the field ultimately resulted in his development of CranioSacral Therapy.

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Is CranioSacral Therapy a kind of massage?

Although CST is being adopted by more and more massage therapists as they discover the amazing power of this light touch, and some massage therapists even incorporate cranial techniques into a traditional Swedish or deep tissue massage, the origins of CST are actually in osteopathic medicine, and the body systems addressed are quite different. A CranioSacral session can be deeply relaxing, as can a massage, but the pathway to this relaxation is different. Massage concentrates on the muscles and connective tissues of the body, and also the circulatory system that nourishes the cells of these tissues and removes waste products. CranioSacral Therapy, on the other hand, works with the tissues of the nervous system, the connective tissues that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord, and the cerebrospinal fluid that nourishes the tissues of these structures. Because it addresses different tissues than massage, CranioSacral Therapy can provide relief for chronic problems that have not been resolved by massage or other types of body work, especially headache, migraines, TMJ issues, neck pain, spinal issues, and problems remaining from accidents, falls or injuries, even those from decades in the past.

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What Conditions Can be Helped by CranioSacral Therapy?

Among CST’s largest patient groups are those suffering chronic symptoms that haven’t been aided by other approaches. In particular, CST is beneficial to those with head, neck or back injuries resulting from an accident – be it from a car, sports or work mishap or from a fall. The extremely light touch involved in the application of CST makes it a safe approach as well for children, infants and newborns with early traumas, including birth trauma. They especially can benefit from the timely identification and release of restrictions in the craniosacral system, thereby preventing future difficulties such as learning disabilities or hyperactivity.

Another area of principal effectiveness is with stress-related dysfunction’s. Insomnia, fatigue, headaches, poor digestion, anxiety and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction are just a few examples. CranioSacral Therapy works to reverse the debilitating effects of stress by providing the conditions in which the nervous system can rest and rejuvenate. In fact, it’s this capacity to reduce stress that’s leading an increasing number of people to include CST as part of their wellness routines.

Other conditions for which CranioSacral Therapy has shown to be effective are various sensory disorders. Among these are eye-motor coordination problems, autism, dyslexia, loss of taste or smell, tinnitus, vertigo and neuralgias such as sciatica and tic douloureux.

By complementing the body’s natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including:

  • Migraines and headaches
  • Chronic neck and back pain
  • Stress and tension-related disorders
  • Motor-coordination impairments
  • TMJ syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Brain and spinal cord injuries
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

And many other conditions.

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Is there any condition for which CST shouldn’t be used?

There are certain situations where application of CST would not be recommended. These include conditions where a variation and/or slight increase in intracranial pressure would cause instability. Acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage or other preexisting severe bleeding disorders are examples of conditions that could be affected by small intracranial pressure changes.

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How many CranioSacral Therapy sessions will I need?

Response to CST varies from individual to individual and condition to condition. Your response is uniquely your own and can’t be compared to anyone else’s – even those cases that may appear to be similar to your own. The number of sessions needed varies widely – from just one up to three or more a week over the course of several weeks.

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The History and Development of CranioSacral Therapy

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is part of osteopathy, a field of medicine founded by Andrew Taylor Still, MD (1828-1917). Dr. Still saw that overly strained body parts cause dysfunction and he developed methods that help the body overcome the strain. He believed that structure and function of the body are related and that the body is self-correcting, so that once the strain pattern was corrected, it could use its innate healing abilities to correct dysfunction.

Dr. Still’s ideas were applied by William G. Sutherland, DO (1873-1954) to the structure and function of the cranial bones and related tissues, founding the field of Cranial Osteopathy. Dr. Sutherland introduced the idea of an inherent rhythmic motion in the cranium, which we can use to release resrictions in the cranial sutures.

John E. Upledger, DO, OMM is the founder of CranioSacral Therapy, a paradigm that combines the Osteopathic outlook from Drs. Still and Sutherland with other full body techniques he developed from his vast understanding of embryological development, quantum physics, cell structure, and therapeutic imagery.

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Adobe Jack-Grand Central-Crusty Trail Loop

Another stellar addition to the Forest Service trail network in the Sedona area! This trailhead is less than half a mile from my home, yet I had not noticed it before I saw it indicated on the 2012 edition of the Beartooth Publishing Sedona Outdoor Recreation Map, at least the first two legs of the loop (the Crusty trail didn’t make it on to the map). The parking lot is so new that workers were adding the final touches to landscaping when I left on a Friday morning in June. From the trailhead, I headed out on the Adobe Jack trail, which runs parallel to Soldier’s Pass Road. Occasionally, you find yourself within 50 feet of someone’s back yard, but moving on there are some more remote sections. The gorgeous views begin almost right away.

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Cockscomb-Aerie Loop

Doe Mountain from the Aerie Trail

Doe Mountain from the Aerie Trail


I LOVED this hike! I hiked the 5.5 miles in two hours and twenty minutes, which went by quickly because of the beautiful views in all directions. The footing was solid most of the way, allowing me to really hit my pace, except I kept stopping to snap photos with my iPhone. I started from the Aerie Trailhead, which is beyond the Fay Canyon and Bear/Doe Mountain Trailhead parking areas on Route 152C. This lot was completely deserted when I started early on a Wednesday morning, and had maybe two other cars when I returned. There are no restroom facilities at this trailhead. The loop could easily be accessed from the more developed Bear/Doe Mountain TH 1/2 mile away.

Photos coming!

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Dawa-Cypress-OK Loop

Hiking Dawa Trail Sedona

View towards the end of the loop

This trailhead is a small pull off on 152C. Take Dry Creek Road until it ends at a “T” intersection. Turn left at the stop sign and look for the small trailhead sign on your left at about 0.5 miles. You can park on either side of the road. Total length of this loop is 2.5 miles, but you can extend your loop easily to include other trails that connect. Most of the trail is flat and sandy, with just a few areas near washes that are rocky. One morning I had a guest sleeping in my bedroom and woke up for an early morning hike alone. I didn’t want to disturb her by going after my hiking shoes in my closet, so I took off with only a pair of socks and some pretty non-supportive sandals. While I don’t normally recommend this type of foot wear for hiking in Sedona, I did just fine on the Dawa Trail. I hit the trail at 6:00am on a Saturday morning in early June. The temperature was actually slightly chilly in a t-shirt that time of day. Definitely worth the early rise! I saw a couple of cars parked along the road, but did not encounter anyone on the trail. Bliss! Just off the trailhead (0.1 miles), the Dawa Trail splits to the right, while the OK Trail goes left. Take the right branch to hike this trail in a counter-clockwise direction. At 0.8 miles, take a left to continue on the Dawa Trail, then in another 0.8 miles, turn left on the AZ Cypress Trail. Shortly afterwards, you’ll see the unmarked Anaconda Trail branching off to the right. Continue on the Cypress Trail 0.4 miles to connect with the OK Trail and continue back to the first leg of the Dawa trail and the Trailhead. The finale of this hike has lovely views of rock formations.

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Made in the Shade/Slim Shady Loop

View of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock from Slim Shady Trail

View of Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock from Slim Shady Trail

Start this hike from the Yavapai Vista Trailhead in the Village of Oak Creek. It is possible to shorten the approach by a quarter mile by parking in the Court House Vista Parking lot, crossing SR 179 and picking up the unmarked access trail slightly to the south, but parking is easier at Yavapai Vista and you don’t have to cross the busy highway. Access to the Slim Shady trail is to your left as you enter the parking lot, using the Yavapai trail. At the junction with Slim Shady, take a left and continue .4 miles to the junction with Made in the Shade on your left. You will climb a bit through juniper and interesting rock formations, until you are directly across from Bell Rock and about halfway up with respect to that formation. Watch the ant-like procession of hikers climbing Bell Rock if it is a busy day. Meanwhile, you won’t be in any traffic jams on your side of the street. An occasional hiker or biker is all you’ll likely see. After 1.1 miles, you will meet Slim Shady again. Turn left to return north to the parking lot. A beautiful hike!