Amblers Hike the Baldwin Trail
October 20, 2017
By Cliff Heide
View from the Baldwin Trail near Cathedral Rock and Oak Creek. The panorama of red rock formations can be seen beyond the thick vegetation along the trail.
I’m a newbie member of the Sedona Westerners hiking club. Though my wife and I have owned a home in Sedona for 15 years, we primarily have spent our time in Phoenix because we worked there full-time. Now that we are retired, we live in Sedona most of the year and I wanted to explore hiking trails in Red Rock Country.
I had heard of the Westerners and found their website to be well organized and replete with pertinent information. I was impressed that a goal of the organization is to accommodate the ability level of all hikers, by having hiking groups with different levels of difficulty. Each group meets once per week; however, a person may participate in any hike that interests him/her. The club was exactly what I was looking for; so, I completed the online membership application and looked forward to my first hike.
I decided to do the three-hour Baldwin Trail hike with the Amblers, which is the easiest hiking group. The hikers met at the Village of Oak Creek Outlet Center at 8 a.m. They congregated in a parking lot, I introduced myself to the members, and we carpooled to the trailhead. I had no concerns about safety or getting lost. It was great having someone leading the hike who knew the location of the trailhead and the intricacies of the trail. The leader, Barbara O' Connor, had scouted the trail a few days before the hike.
I was able to turn off my analytical mind, hike at a leisurely pace, and observe my surroundings. When I hike, I tend to be in the moment, so I can observe the natural beauty and the environment. The Baldwin Trail had it all: beautiful flora and fauna, gorgeous rock formations, and melodious water (Oak Creek). I couldn’t take my eyes off Cathedral Rock, which I viewed from a completely different perspective.
This was a hike I had never done before and I observed something new at every turn. For instance, it was great walking through a native Ocotillo grove, and soon thereafter, observing beautifully weathered rocks with different colored lichen. At the end of the hike, we passed by Cottonwood trees and I could hear the melodious sound of moving water. Appearing in front of me was an isolated section of Oak Creek, with water flowing over smooth red rock. Our group rested, snacked, and took in the beauty of that place. Several people took off their boots and put their feet into the cool, fresh water of the stream.
Many of the Sedona Westerners hikers are retired and there is a camaraderie among them. Occasionally, I heard people discuss their health concerns: knees, allergies, and cardiac issues. I could identify with many of their discussions; for a few years ago, I was unable to hike and needed hip replacement surgery. I believe that many people who have overcome health issues, truly appreciate physical exercise, fresh air, and the beauty of Red Rock Country. We all have different life stories; however, metaphorically, we are on the same path - enjoying life, friendship, and the love of Sedona – one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
If you are interested in joining the club, visit the Sedona Westerners website at www.sedonawesterners.org/membership. You are invited to our next monthly meeting Thursday, November 9, at 7 p.m. at the Sedona United Methodist Church, 110 Indian Cliffs Road. Sedona Westerners, written this week by Clide, appears every Friday in the Sedona Red Rock News.