Sedona Westerners Traverse Many Knolls

January 20, 2023

By Lou Sideris

At times the Westerners seem to be chasing the elusive Rainbow on their hikes. In this case, they were truly rewarded after a brief rain shower.

Striking cobalt blue skies are a notable aspect of photos from Sedona hikes. When we share these photos with friends and relatives east of the Mississippi, they often remark on our deep clear Southwest heavens, so noticeably different from the water vapor-infused atmosphere of their environs.

But sometimes we Sedona hikers do experience cloudy, rainy skies, which can bring their own beauty and drama. Such was our experience as the Dogies group of the Sedona Westerners was led by Jim Kemper and Kelly-Leigh Thomas. We set out in the shadow of Castle Rock in the Village of Oak Creek to rise and fall over many knolls.

As we progressed, I enjoyed keeping count of the knolls – there were eight of them in all. It was fun to reach the summit of each knoll and jockey for position. The Westerners proved to be a polite group, courteously moving out of the way for others to reach the top. Each new knoll provided different perspectives of the rock formations surrounding us and the gathering clouds filling the horizon. These were panoramas of rock and ever-changing sky.

Looking west to Cathedral Rock, in one moment it was in shadow, dark and brooding, then in the next moment it was bathed in celestial light. The sky was a blend of different shades of grey and blue. The weather and the sky were dominant features of the hike, as much of attractions as the beauty of the red rocks.

Typically, a Westerners hike includes two stops, one for a snack and one for a lunch. Today we had our snack stop and enjoyed our conversations, but we would later find out that today, the lunch stop was not to be.

We began to realize that we were going to get rained on. At first the rain was tentative and intermittent; we would begin to get soaked, but in the time it took to don our raingear it would stop. This was weather that kept us guessing, but it did not detract from the enjoyment of the hiking experience or the comradery of our fellows.

About an hour and a half into the hike, rain began to fall in earnest, but the sun kept piercing through. Wet slickrock ledges glittered like icy jewels. Beautiful but treacherous, we decided to turn around and save the steepest, most slippery rock traverses for another day.

As we returned along our route, a beautiful rainbow arched above us. It was a fitting end to a hike in which the weather was as entertaining as the trail and the scenery.

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  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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