A Weather Related Change of Plans

April 01, 2022

By Dick Williams

The Westerners find yet another interesting relic on a recent hike in Western Gateway. Does anybody know the make and model of this car?

In Sedona we are blessed with beautiful scenery and normally beautiful weather.  Given that, it is very seldom that the Westerners have to cancel a hike due to inclimate conditions.  The first weekend of March caused us to cancel not one, but two days of hikes. Cancellations are disappointing, so they are normally done at the last minute.  

There are many reasons to cancel, the primary one being moisture (rain or snow) on the trails or coming down from the sky.  Wet Red Rocks become quite slick, and snow or ice make them even more slippery. Additionally, when it thaws and begins to drain, the dirt can turn to mud and numerous pairs of hiking boots can be quite destructive to the trails. Neither of these conditions are safe or environmentally sound. This weekend the snow and colder temperatures had caused ice to be present on the north facing slopes and some of the washes to have running water.

Sedona Westerners can also suffer from a condition called “Restless Hiking Leg Syndrome”, which from now on we will call RHLS.  Much different than those maladies advertised on TV, this one occurs when we can’t get out and hike.  Symptoms include wandering around the house, looking out the window, and for many of us getting cranky and irritable. Cancelled hikes are a leading cause of this very treatable yet preventable condition.

On the weekend mentioned previously, we confirmed the cancelled Sunday morning Hangover hike with our carpooler.  In order to prevent the onset of the dreaded RHLS, he suggested we find an alternative. Since the sun was out, and there had been a good breeze blowing, we hopped in the van and went to Western Gateway—knowing those trails drain well and should be in good shape.  They were also away from most of the rain that had occurred the past few days, so the chances of damage from boot traffic was lessened.

Upon arrival at the Girdner Trailhead we found good trail conditions.  We were also not alone.  A couple of out of town visitors were looking to hike and asked our suggestions. It is always great to hear the comments of folks seeing our backyard playground for the first time. With the extensive network Western Gateway of trails, you can piece together almost unlimited combinations of loops for just about any desired experience, skill level, or mode of travel.  

Our normal carpooler, Dave Vanderwater, is a long time Westerner with a photographic memory of our trail systems, so he proceeded to lead us on one of his “go-to” loops. Starting on Girdner, we used a little piece of Lasso, a piece of Stirrup, another piece of Girdner, the hill on Axis, and finally finished up on Girdner back to the trailhead.  All told we did about 4 miles with a cumulative 300 feet of elevation gain.

We saw only a few other hikers, two trail runners, recent evidence of equestrians, and about half a dozen mountain bikers. Some of them were on demo bikes from the Sedona Mountain Biking festival, which was in full swing at the Posse Grounds.  Most of them were out of towners and glad to take a break and chat at the various intersections. Upon arrival back at the Trailhead, we saw about a dozen more bikers arriving.  They were eager to get those wheels on the trails.

One thing we also visited, and had seen numerous times before, was the rusted car under the tree in the old dump area.  We looked over the remains to see any identifying markings as to the make.  If anyone knows the year and model please let us know.  It’s a good mystery to solve.

I’m not sure if it was the warmer temperature, or seeing sun after several days of cold gloomy rain, but it was delightful conditions for our hastily planned adventure. Proving, yet again, that the plethora of options here in Sedona means you can always figure out an alternative. Better yet, we had fought off RHLS for yet another day!


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