Norm’s Notch Loop and Watching Where you Step...

February 25, 2022

By Alan Gotliffe

On yet another beautiful Sedona day, a different view of Soldiers Pass.

The Mustangs of the Sedona Westerners met Thursday morning at the Posse Grounds to hike Norm’s Notch Loop.  We checked in with hike leaders Jim Sweeny and Peg Cook who reviewed the club’s safe hiking and Covid-19 rules.  Once everyone arrived, we carpooled to the Sugarloaf Trailhead where we were pleasantly surprised with ample parking.

The hike plan was to explore the Brins Mesa area.  The hike was expected be a little over seven miles long and ascend, and hopefully descend, the same 1,350 feet.  It was a brisk morning as we set off from the trailhead, but we quickly warmed as we started our ascent.  The sun was shining brightly, and it turned out to be a perfect day to hike.  We set off on the Sugarloaf and Teacup trails which offered views of some of the iconic Sedona rock formations such as Coffeepot Rock, the Sphynx, the Keyhole, and Morning Glory.  

I learned an important lesson in the early part of this hike to watch where I step.  I was backing up to get a better look at the rock formations and brushed up against a prickly pear cactus.  The smaller needles went right through three layers:  gaiter, outer sock, and liner sock.  Fortunately, the needles came out fairly easily and that was the only incident on the hike.  I also learned to hike with tweezers in the desert.

My wife and I live in New Jersey, but we have been visiting Sedona the past several winters as a break from the cold weather back home.  We enjoy the mild temperatures, bright sunshine, and the outdoor activities that the area has to offer.  We joined the Westerners two years ago and found them to be a most welcoming and helpful group.  We have participated in hikes with the Mustangs and the Dogies.  We were renewing acquaintances and making new friends as we worked our way up toward Brins Mesa.  Some of the Westerners are part timers like us, but many live in the area year-round.  Members have lived and worked all over the U.S., but everyone shares a joy of the outdoors and the fun exercise from a good hike.

One true measure of a great hike is the quality of the view at the lunch break.  Our hike leader found us a spectacular view looking over Brins Mesa toward Wilson Mountain.  There was still a little chill in the air, so we donned warmer outer layers to sit down for a quick lunch.  I took this opportunity to double check for any cactus needles that I might have missed earlier.

After lunch we started our descent down the Soldier Pass side of Brins Mesa.  This afforded us an excellent view of Norm’s Notch to the West and a fantastic view to the South over Sedona and all the way down to Courthouse Butte in the Village.  Once down from the Mesa, we retraced our route over Teacup and Sugarloaf back to the trailhead.  Everyone had a great day and heartily thanked our leaders for providing an exceptional hike.

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