Sounds on the Trail of the Anaconda-Snake-AZ Cypress Loop

December 08, 2017

By Cliff Heide

View from the Anaconda Trail. Sedona’s famous red and white sandstone rock formations dominate the background, while Pinon Pine and Cypress trees fill the foreground.

As I drove up the hill to Posse Grounds Park, I was greeted with a stunning view of Sedona’s classic red rock formations. Posse Grounds is a quintessential community center. An outside amphitheater is perched on a ridge overlooking the city’s beautiful southeast vista. As I entered the driveway to the parking lot, I saw a person sorting recyclables into large recycling bins. Adjacent to the parking lot was a deep green athletic field, set against a backdrop of Sedona red rock mountains. People were standing near the edge of the field watching their dogs energetically frolic on the well-groomed grass.  

I parked my car, gathered my hiking gear, and approached the Sedona Westerners hiking club members who were congregating in the parking lot. I was greeted by many people whom I had met on my previous hike a week ago. We were heading to Anaconda, Snake, and AZ Cypress Loop trails (3.5 miles), which are just west of Dry Creek Road in Sedona. Due to the abundance of people for this hike, three separate groups were formed; each group required a leader and a tailgater (last person in a group). I volunteered to be a tailgater, the person who has the responsibility of keeping track of hikers and helping anyone who may fall behind. We carpooled to the trailhead and I introduced myself to a couple of new hikers who recently joined the Westerners.

I seem to find metaphorical lessons about life when I am in nature. At the beginning of the hike, our group leader, Liz Sweeney, stopped and described many of the red rock formations. I enjoy using my imagination to remember many of the names. For instance, when I view Chimney Rock from my home in West Sedona, it appears to be a thick single spire; however, from the west, it has three separate spires. There is a lesson here. Perhaps, it’s good to have alternative perspectives to better understand people with different viewpoints.

I like being a tailgater because I often prefer a solitary experience when I hike. Being the last person in a group, I can control my physical distance from the other hikers. My mind tends to relax; thus, I can better observe beautiful scenery and sounds on the trail. As I walked along the paths, each turn provided a different perception. I couldn’t hear any traffic, so I was able to notice subtle sounds that are usually obscured by noise. As I walked on small rocks and pebbles, I could hear a crackling sound beneath my hiking boots. When we walked on soft silt, there was silence. Occasionally, I could audibly hear a swishing sound, which came from the polyester attire worn by hikers. If we were climbing up a steep slope, I could hear a few groans. When we stopped walking, I audibly heard leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. I had no control over the sounds, but could choose to hear them – it calmed my mind.

The group stopped at Dry Creek, which was?  Dry – no running water. Most people found a personal boulder to sit on while they savored fruit, nuts, or another snack. It was a shady and beautiful place, and I could hear people laughing and chatting. This was the half-way point and we had only 15 minutes to relax. As we headed back to the trailhead, a few new hikers stopped to take photographs of trees with yellow leaves, which reflected the coming of autumn. Being the tailgater enabled me to experience what other hikers were observing. It’s a way of stopping time to experience nature’s beauty.

If you are interested in joining the club, please visit the Sedona Westerners website at  You are invited to our next monthly meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, January 11, at the Sedona Methodist Church, 110 Indian Cliffs Road.  Sedona Westerners, written this week by Cliff Heide, appears every Friday in the Sedona Red Rock News.



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