One Hike – Two Mountains
December 18, 2020
By Dave Minott
View from atop Cockscomb
The Dogies hiking group of the Sedona Westerners recently completed a challenging “twofer” hike, climbing two iconic Sedona mountains on one hike – The Cockscomb and Doe Mountain. We met at the Aerie Trailhead parking lot, being careful to observe the COVID protection measures adopted by our hiking club. This meant wearing masks while assembling at the trailhead, then breaking into two small groups to start the hike, and removing masks only after hitting the trail while maintaining adequate distancing between hikers.
Led by Dave Vanderwater and Dave Minott, our two groups eagerly headed out on the Cockscomb Trail on this sunny, brisk morning. Looking toward the far horizons, we noticed that the tops of the highest mountains in our region had been dusted with snow the night before. Fortunately, the snow level didn’t get low enough to coat the mountains we planned to climb, as that would have meant postponing the hike.
As we hiked along, our first objective soon came into view, the mountain called The Cockscomb. This mountain gets its name from the line of twisted red-rock spires that juts dramatically into the air along the spine of the mountain top, reminding one of a rooster’s comb. Reaching the base of the mountain, we began our ascent. While the hike up was steep and challenging, we earned our due rewards upon reaching the top. Our first stop at the top had us perched in a narrow, open slot between two cockscomb rock spires that towered straight up on either side of us. The view looking out from between the two rock spires was outstanding, a commanding panorama of Mingus Mountain and the entire Verde Valley.
Climbing farther up and along the summit spine of The Cockscomb, we enjoyed the ever-expanding views and eventually found ourselves gathered around a distinctive round rock about the size and shape of the “Transporters” used on the Starship Enterprise. A number of us tried out the command, ”Beam Me Up Scotty!”, but alas were left disappointed. We then descended from the Cockscomb and headed for our second objective, Doe Mountain.
Retracing on the Cockscomb Trail, we crossed the wide valley between The Cockscomb and the base of Doe Mountain. Regarding Doe Mountain, climbing its front-side (north side) is a very popular hike for locals and visitors alike. However, our hike took us up the seldom-scaled back side of Doe Mountain. Our ascent was steep and required us to test our rock-scrambling skills. High up on this side of the mountain grow some of the largest and healthiest clusters of Prickly Pear Cactus in all of Sedona. However, due to this year’s prolonged drought, even these normally-robust specimens appeared very unhappy. Upon reaching the expansive, flat summit of Doe Mountain, we found some convenient rocks to serve as front-row seats. Here we enjoyed lunch together while taking in the view of nearby, imposing Bear Mountain.
After our lunch break, we reassembled and descended Doe Mountain via its popular front-side trail to complete our hike. Overall our hike covered about 6 miles and 1200 feet each of ascent and descent. As the hike was ending at the parking lot, everyone donned their masks again as they re-grouped and shared the wonderful sense of camaraderie that comes from completing such a challenging and scenic hike together. Indeed, there was much “crowing” and “fawning” over our wonderful visits to the tops of both The Cockscomb and Doe Mountain.
If you are interested in joining the club, please visit the Sedona Westerners website at www.sedonawesterners.org/membership. Monthly meetings are only facilitated via Zoom at present until the Covid 19 restrictions are lifted