Dogies Explore Huckaby Windows
September 20, 2019
By Deborah Losse
As April approaches the Sedona Westerners adjust their schedule to start earlier in order to take advantage of the morning breezes and empty parking lots. These are also the days when our members, particularly Canadian members, begin to go north for cooler climes. A hearty group of early risers meet at the Huckaby trailhead to begin what is announced as a challenging hike. Our leader and co-leader, Al Vander Peut and Kris McLean, also serving as tailgater, inform the group of points of interest to come.
The hike begins along the Huckaby trail and winds up and down the scenic path before it turns off to the Huckaby Loop trail. It isn't long before sweaters and vests come off to prepare for the major ascent, most of the total 1,100 feet combined elevation gain of the hike, done in a breathtaking few minutes. Once on top, the group enjoys a panoramic view of the entire Schnebly Hill to the East, Midgley Bridge and Wilson Mountain to the North, and Capitol Butte to the Southwest. One of the benefits of hiking with the Westerners is the presence of some extremely experienced hikers. Our leader, Al Vander Peut guides the hikers with hints as to the best foot positions available on the slick rock and where and when sticks are useful.
A second advantage is the presence of experts on just about everything. Happily that day Dave Minott, our resident meteorologist, is present to comment on the unusual cloud formations, known as lenticular clouds, referring to the cloud's lens-like shape. They form under atmospheric conditions when a mountain sticking up into the wind flow aloft creates standing waves down wind. The abundant snow and rain this year have produced a lovely array of wildflowers. When not watching our feet and the views, we rehearse the names of those flowers along the way; verbena and anemone plants are most prevalent.
The flat rock at the top of the hill offers an inviting place for a welcome snack break before we continue. Hikers reacquaint themselves with the many rock formations within view, with new arrivals asking the longer residents to confirm their conjectures. Once rested, the hikers go down from their perch to continue along the slick rock and proceed steeply up to get a better view of the windows. The northern-most window has the distinct shape of an elephant when viewed as a holistic rock formation.
Excited to be in such a scenic spot, the hikers begin their climb down to meet the Hangover Trail. It is a moment to relish the challenge and the good humor brought on by engaging in a collective activity in a truly uncommon place. Taking a few moments to rest, rehydrate, and replenish the calories expended, the group then sets off to make a quick descent to meet the Munds Wagon Trail. Just before completing the 4.3 miles, the hikers pause to admire the impressive wash just north of the Huckaby parking area.
A round of thanks is extended to our leader, co-leader and tailgater at the trailhead. As one hiker comments, it has been a beautiful day, a challenging hike, and, while warm, one of the last days before the Spring heat will demand an even earlier departure time.
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 regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 7 p.m., Thursday, November 14, at the Sedona Methodist Church, 110 Indian Cliffs Road. (photo credit - Al Gore)