The Mustangs: Hiking Through the Devil’s Loop
December 29, 2017
By Kelly_Leigh Thomas
View of Devils' Bridge from standing underneath it. The narrowness of the arch and the cracks running through it can be clearly seen from below.
The Sedona Westerners Devil’s Loop hike was recently enjoyed by a large and happy group of Mustangs, the Thursday hikers from the Sedona Westerners, which was co-led by fellow Canadians, Ernie and Lynn Pratt. This scenic and diverse loop started at the Chuck Wagon trailhead parking lot on Long Canyon Road and ended there a good five hours later. This enjoyable approach to Devil’s Bridge had, surprisingly, very few other hikers on it. Traveling the Chuck Wagon trail toward the iconic Devil’s Bridge trail gave our hiking groups time to catch up and trade stories about all the interesting hikes that we had fit in before the Sedona Westerners’ new hiking season began in September. At times, I am sure, this created a challenge for the tailgaters to keep the stray horses in the correct herd, but they did so!
The 6.5-mile Devil’s Loop included a stop under the Devil’s Bridge. This gave us an eerie view of a transverse crack that exists in Sedona’s largest Supai sandstone arch, at its thinnest point. While taking time for some photographs, many stories of lost cell phones falling off the Bridge were exchanged and some even had happy endings. Westerners Garry Robertson and Beverly Kemsley were able to demonstrate true Sedona Westerners’ hospitality when they drove to a MacDonald’s to reunite a very appreciative family with their phone, which they had found beneath Devil’s Bridge.
After our break, while enjoying the lovely weather, we continued to scramble and hike through to our next destination, lunch! Our lunchtime vista gave us a great view of the Devil’s Bridge and the hikers braving the narrow arch for the perfect photo op. Sometimes rock climbers can be seen rappelling on the other side of the canyon, but not today. Lynn’s homemade chocolate cookies vanished quickly! At lunch, a discussion about our “Leave No Trace” policy confirmed that the Westerners are conscientious preservers of nature. It’s pretty simple: If you pack it in, you pack it out! This includes everything, even biodegradable foods like apple cores, banana peels, etc. None of these “innocent appearing” food products are beneficial to wildlife, ever. These foreign foods can upset their metabolism, make them feel full and sleepy, and leave them vulnerable. This refuse can also draw them into unsafe places where predators lurk. Any habituation of wildlife is not in their best interests.
We set off for the completion of our Devil’s Loop hike by descending through scrub and some bushes. Our hike leaders, who are both retired geologists, pointed out the honeycombed weathering in the sandstone, known as Tafoni or “swiss cheese rock.” It is an interesting geological feature resulting from weathering in arid and semi-arid regions. Having achieved our 700 feet of cumulative elevation gain for the hike, we then made our way in the streambed of Dry Creek back to the trailhead. Jim Kemper, the Mustang Boss, has organized a terrific schedule of hikes for us this season. We can’t wait to hit the trail again!
If you are interested in joining the club, please visit the Sedona Westerners website at www.sedonawesterners.org/membership. 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 Kelly-Leigh Thomas, appears every Friday in the Sedona Red Rock News.