Westerners Double Dip with Doe Mountain and Cockscombe

December 23, 2022

By Lou Sideris

Cockscombe, normally seen from the side, is a resident feature just west of Sedona. Here we see a different perspective with the Mingus Mountains in the background.

Double your pleasure and double your fun – the Dogies group from the Sedona Westerners hiked up two adjacent Sedona landmarks during a recent hike.

After meeting at the Aerie trail head and reviewing safety procedures, we all introduced ourselves. We split into two groups, with Dave Vanderwater and Gary Morgan serving as group leaders and navigators. Our planned hike covered six miles and involved climbing a total of 1,200 feet.

First up was Cockscomb, so named because its rock pinnacles evoke the fleshy crown on a rooster. Roosters can control the blood flow to their cockscombs to help regulate temperature, and it must have been working because the cool, breezy autumn day was the perfect temperature for hiking.

On many hikes, members of the Westerners might be experts who share interesting knowledge. On today’s hike we had geologist Ernie Pratt who pointed out some fascinating aspects of the features we were viewing. On the rock surfaces of Cockscomb, we noticed odd patterns of concentric circles in the rocks. Was this the effect of Sedona’s famous vortexes? Or is there a more prosaic explanation? Ernie explained that during the sandstone formation, while the material is still cementing, a small foreign object can create a chemical reaction that creates circles around the object.

On the summit, we enjoyed expansive views over the wide open area of the Coconino National Forest to the west. This large area is well known as a destination for dispersed camping. As we looked out, we noticed patterns of deep dry arroyos. An arroyo is also called a wash, a dry creek, a stream bed or a gulch. According to Ernie, the deepest arroyos were a result of the 1883 volcanic eruption on the island of Krakatoa, near Java. The ash from the eruption caused a volcanic winter and produced record rainfalls around the world. These intense rainfalls created many of the arroyos that we still see today. Since the Southwest is currently experiencing record droughts, maybe another major volcanic eruption would be welcome!

After descending from Cockscomb, we took the Aerie trail towards Doe Mountain and ascended to the top. There is no one summit, since the entire top of Doe is a large flat area. In fact, Doe is a true mesa (Spanish for “table”) and why the Forest Service calls it “Doe Mountain” instead of “Doe Mesa” is certainly a mystery to me. Regardless of its name, on top of Doe we enjoyed beautiful expansive views in all directions, from Bear Mountain and Boynton Canyon to the north to Thunder Mountain and Cathedral Rock to the south.

As we descended Doe, weary and happy, we were grateful for another hiking experience in beautiful Sedona.

The Sedona Westerners always welcome new members, and we have hikes multiple days of the week for all abilities. If you are interested in joining the club, please visit our website at sedonawesterners.org.  You will find an interesting history, the whole season’s list of planned hikes, and a handy membership link. It only takes five minutes to sign and start your new adventures here in the Red Rocks.

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