Drovers Hike the Jim Bryant
November 27, 2020
By Dennis Chisholm
The View from Chicken point
Trail Length and Ascent: 5 Miles with 600 Ft. elevation gain.
Hiking Group: The Drovers
Hike Leader: Hassan Hosseini
Tailgater: Cleo Duardo
The Drovers met at Little Horse Trailhead on Hwy 179 just south of Sedona and a little north of the Villiage of Oak Creek. We all logged into respective groups and heard the rules of the road along with the now standard COVID precautions, after which we were out of the chute.
We started out on the Bell Rock Pathway heading south with some fantastic views of Courthouse Butte to our left. It didn’t take long to figure out why these hikes were so popular. The scenery was stunning! Blue skies were of the deepest blue when back-dropped and enhanced by the red rock and the deep greens of the piñon pine and junipers. It was truly a feast to the senses. We picked up the Little Horse Trail after about a mile and a half, a nice wilderness single track. It was interesting to note that we were traversing through an area interspersed with not only sandstone but limestone and basalt. I noticed many fossils of coral, crinoids, and shells all along the trail. At the time I was wondering about all the countless changes that have taken place over mind numbing millions of years to bring us this treat we now know as Sedona...lucky us.
It wasn’t really hot but the shade was welcomed when we slid (not literally) down through a cool wash where we could immediately feel the cool air spill over us, That was a treat. Hiking through the wash in the shade was pretty easy going as our track led us over smooth water worn sandstone that reminded me of walking over a wide red sidewalk.
The Three Nuns red rock formation stood in the distance guarding their wilderness like timeless spires, allowing a certain few to pass by. It was our lucky day as our group forged ahead to our lunch spot.
Hassan had led us to a superb spot for an early lunch where we could sprawl out on the weathered red rocks amongst a jumble of limestone blocks. What a spot! We were in a superb spot where the only other hikers we saw was the second group of Drovers. We really were allowed to feel a connection with the outdoors in these settings. Every direction we looked we were literally in a Kodak moment. All around us were colors of azure blue, cumulus white, robin red and pine green. We couldn’t take a bad picture if we tried. It was as though we were in an outdoor cathedral with the red rocks rising gently above and behind us and below us with the canyon floor leveling off before abruptly rising above in fractured spires and wannabe hoodoos. We soaked it all in and light conversation could be heard softly drifting all about.
We started back on this out-and-back hike, again passing through our cool shady wash and through another wash towards Chicken Point. All of a sudden we were visiting an extremely popular spot where we shared our little piece of heaven with a half dozen for-hire ATV’s and a number of Pink Jeeps. This was Chicken point. This was where if you were lucky enough, you could witness the harrowing mountain bike challenge on what is known as the “White Line”. The White Line is a track with 200 vertical feet of sheer exposure, with a thin white line of rock across the contrasting red sandstone. Mountain bikers risk life and limb riding this death defying thousand foot horizontal track only to reach the end and then do an impossible 180 degree turn around. Then they must tempt the hand of fate once again for the thousand foot return. Why? It was not for me to ask, God only knows. Our group milled about smartly around Chicken Point looking up towards the white line but no challengers sallied forth today. Good! It looked way too crazy. I’d have hated to have our beautiful day shattered by the sound of a rescue chopper carrying away white line failure.
From Chicken Point and the white line, it was a short mile and a half back to the Little Horse Trailhead. There we all struck a high five salute with our walking sticks to put a wrap on our hike. It’s been a morning of great scenery, exhilarating steps, a chance to make new acquaintances, and refresh others. Rating? Out of 5 this would be a very strong 5.