The Drovers Hike Up Bear Mountain

April 12, 2024


By Donna Forsythe

The view down into Fay Canyon as seen by the Drovers from atop Bear Mountain.

It was a cool and potentially wet Sunday morning when a hardy group of Drovers met at the Doe/Bear parking lot to take a challenging hike climbing part way up Bear Mountain. Concerns about the impending wet weather were discussed before embarking and it was decided that if it became too wet and slippery, we would turn back. With that understanding out of the way, the group eagerly headed to the Bear trailhead led by Crystal Marty, one of the Westerner’s expert hike leaders.

We enthusiastically set out at a moderately fast pace, but soon found ourselves somewhat spread out while slowly and carefully ascending the steady climb up the steep and rocky terrain. Several “catch your breath” pauses became necessary as hikers acclimated to the climb. We took those opportunities to stand in awe of the amazing red rock views in all directions.

We took some of that pause time, and during our snack break later, to get to know one another better. We discovered that we came together to hike on that March Sunday morning from far and wide. While many of the hikers that day live in the local area, a third of the group did not. We welcomed our “out-of-towners” who were either visitors or part-timers in Sedona – two of whom were from Canada, one from Maine, and another from Wisconsin.

One of the things I like best about the Westerners is the opportunity to meet so many interesting and fun-loving people from all over the globe while doing what we all love - hiking.  There is always a good mix of local and non-local people at every hike. Some are people I know (many who are long-time Westerners) and those I don’t (new club members joining us for the first time). You never know who is going to show up for the hike, and there’s never a dull moment!

The Westerners welcome new members throughout the season, even visitors who are only in town for a short while. With our experienced hike leaders, hikers have the opportunity to learn new hikes and explore Sedona with a group of new friends. To learn more about the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club, you can visit our website at www.sedonawesterners.org and join us for more fun events and hikes now through May 9, 2024. The membership fee is only $30. 

When we were not “huffing and puffing” up the hill and could still speak, we had lively conversations about things like our favorite hiking and camping travel destinations, experiences we’ve had on various trips, the gardening and home improvement projects we’re doing, and what our kids and grandkids are up to. I always learn something from these conversations. This time I heard tales about Kartchner Caverns State Park and Chiricahua National Monument in southern Arizona. These places are going on my bucket list for sure.

Along the way, we admired the expansive views of Cockscomb, Doe, Bear, and Thunder mountains, Chimney Rock, and Courthouse Rock in the distance. With light and dark clouds rolling in and out across the sky, a patchwork lighting effect took place casting contrasting light and dark shadows on the landscape. A comment was made that, though we love the sunny, deep-blue-sky Sedona days, the moving shadows across the red rocks made the views pretty spectacular indeed. Fortunately for us, the forecasted rain was delayed, and we stayed dry all the way. 

After about a 1.5-hour climb, we finally arrived at a beautiful rocky point looking toward Fay Canyon where we took our backpacks off, sat on the rocks, shared some snacks, and admired the amazing view. These are the moments Westerners live for. All too soon it came time to descend, so we geared up and hit the trail for a careful, steady downhill trek. Even though the trail was out and back, I invariably saw different things on the way back. How could I have missed those things on the way up? Someone spotted a wildflower, an Indian Paintbrush, nestled against a hedgehog cactus. One bright, red, feathery bloom on a dark green stem let us know that spring is on its way and soon the desert floor will be flooded with color. 

As is often the case, when approaching the end of the hike, the conversation turned to food and restaurants. We were hungry after exerting so much effort. The tired, but happy hikers, arrived back at the trailhead grateful for the lack of rain, the camaraderie, and the chance to commune with nature on this challenging hike. We agreed that even with the threat of rain we did not want to miss the hike up Bear Mountain because of the rugged terrain, the expansive views, and the challenge itself.  We did it! After a few high-fives, we drove off and eagerly await our next hiking adventures.

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