Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

September 11, 2009

Who's Who in Sedona Westerners for 2009-2010 Hiking Season


by Mickey Gershtenson

Officers given unique names

When you hear members of the Westerners talk about their club you might think they are talking about an old western movie. They use terms like “Prospector,” “Wagon Boss,” and “Tracker.” But this is no movie. These are the names of their club officers.

Sedona Westerners refer to their officers by names that honor the club’s historical interest in western lore. These whimsical names are reminiscent of the days when cowboys on horseback herded cattle and drove them along many of the very trails club members hike today.

Officers provide leadership while preserving the 40-year tradition for the Westerners. Among other things, officers coordinate the various hikes at all ability and interest levels. Officers also plan social events, maintain relations with the National Forest Service, and provide educational programs for members.

This season’s line-up of officers includes:

Titles & Executive Officers:

Trail Boss (President) – Liz Sweeney
Immediate Past Trail Boss – Al Vander Peut
Wagon Boss (Vice President & Program Chair) – George Witteman
Wrangler (Secretary) – Pat Witteman
Foreman (Treasure) – Sam Pietrofitta
Top Hands (Board of Directors & Executive Committee)
  3 Year Term – Gloria Vander Peut
  2 Year Term – Sandy Unger
  1 Year Term – Carl Saban

Other Officers & Assistants

Prospector (Membership Chair) – Alan Gore – Larry Dreyfuss
Chuck Wagon Boss (Food/Refreshment Coord.) – Sandy Krywucki
Ranger (Forest Service Liaison) – Bob Shuman
Lookout (Emergency Assistance Team Coord.) - Bob Shuman
Roundup Boss (Public Relations Chair) - Mickey Gershtenson
Old Timer (Historian) – Gini O’Brien
Sunbeam (Counselor & Card Sender) – Helen Mueller
Cliff-Walker (Cultural Resources Education Coord) – Jerry Walters
Point-Rider (Website Consultant) - Jim O’Brien; Clint Gelotte

Hike Leaders & Assistants

Ambler Boss (Thursday Ambler Hikes Coord.) - Harry Grossman; John Mezera
Cactus Dodger (Saturday Rough Rider Hikes Coord.) - Walter Krywucki; Bob Dannert
Dogie Boss (Tuesday Dogie Hikes Coord.) – Marion Hadji-Agha; Hadji Hadji-Agha
Drover Boss (Sunday Drover Hikes Coord.) – Kevin O’Connor
Mustang Boss (Thursday Mustang Hikes Coord.) – Mike Holmes; Gus Rousonelos
Tracker (Special Hikes Coord.) – Joan Scott; Julie Zabilski

Typical Westerners Group in Battlement Mesa. Photo by Mike Nelson.

Hiking Groups

At its beginning forty-six years ago, the club held only one hike each week. In those days, the single hike was held on Saturday and as many as 50 people would participate.

Over the years, the club has evolved to be more mindful of the environment and more accommodating to hiking levels and interests.

Today, hiking groups are limited to a maximum of 12 in the wilderness. Also, five hiking groups cater to various levels of interest and ability. The hikes vary from slow and easy to moderate and demanding. The schedule, listed on the Westerners website, states the meeting time, destination, distance, elevation change, and difficulty.

In the Westerners tradition, the names of hiking groups pay tribute to our western heritage.

Sunday Drover Hikes

These hikes start at 1:30 pm to a Sedona or near Sedona destination and are generally three to five miles in distance and last about three hours.

Tuesday Dogie Hikes

Dogie hikes are moderate, generally five to eight miles in distance and last about five to six hours. The elevation change averages 700’.

Wednesday Tracker Hikes (alternate Wednesdays)

These are special interest hikes on alternate Wednesdays that include archaeology, botany ethnobotany, geology and photography. Some hikes can be described as field trips; others will include hikes or rock scrambles to get to a destination.

Thursday Mustang Hikes

Mustang hikes are moderate to difficult, generally seven to nine miles in distance and 700’ to 2400’ elevation change. These hikes are generally five to six hours.

Thursday Ambler Hikes

Ambler Hikes are easy, slow walks from two to 5 miles with an elevation change of 100’ to 450’. Amblers stop to smell or identify the flowers, like to take time to enjoy the view and often stop to discuss historic aspects.

Saturday Rough Rider Hikes

These hikes are led by veteran hikers and are often demanding and difficult. The terrain might include ledges and scrambling and the hike could be more difficult than the elevation change or distance indicates. Hikes are generally from six to twelve miles in distance and 500’ to 3100’ elevation change.

The Westerners always welcome new members! Check our website for schedules of hikes and social events. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website You may also join by attending the next monthly meeting which will be on Thursday, November 12, at 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadow Lark Lane, off Hwy. 179.