This was the first hike of the 2009-2010 season for the Amblers group; unfortunately the hike leader, John Mezera, could not be there due to illness. However Ambler Boss Harry Grossman picked up the lead and after discussing the change of plans for the day the spirits picked up amongst the hikers. It was great to see several hikers new to the Westerners, two of whom had not yet hiked with the group and a third that hiked the previous day with the Tracker group. Another individual was not new to the Westerners but it was the first time hiking with them.
As nobody volunteered to be the Tailgater, Harry resorted to the old technique of having the slowest hiker tailgate as that is where they belong. It was a close race but Gershtenson lost and brought up the rear for the day. Many of the group felt that is where he belonged anyway. Grossman then lead the group on the Munds Wagon trail. He stated that this was a hike that the Amblers had wanted to add to their repertoire and there was no time like the present. This was to the benefit of the hikers as he brought Mounds Candy Bars for everyone. None of us wanted to tell him that Munds and Mounds are different but he figured it out during lunch.
Thanks to Jean Kindig and her book Sedona Area Places & Names for telling us that after the trail leaves the Huckaby parking lot and ascends Bear Wallow it crosses the creek several times and ends at the Merry-go-Round. Jim Munds and his brother-in-law, John Loy, built a cattle trail to Munds Ranch in 1883 with tanks. So folks don’t get the wrong idea these tanks are not military units but means there were man made water holes along the trail. The trail became a wagon road and was used until Schnebly Hill Road was built in 1902. Bill Stafford, Recreation, Trails, and Wilderness Staff Officer for the Red Rock Ranger District, reestablished this trail for hikers. Now we all know Bill and he is an Honorary Sedona Westerner, but nobody took him for being around in 1902! Therefore, Gershtenson had to call Stafford’s daughter Sara and she verified it for us.
It was a glorious day and the trail was very quiet as only two other folks were on the trail the entire time. There were no animal sightings, the birds were quiet, and there were no fish in the wash. A couple of the new hikers were unfamiliar with the Arizona Smooth Bark Cypress tree and most of the group did not realize that the only place it is found in the world is in the Verde River drainage. There were many beautiful sugar sumac, clusters of manzanita the majority of which still had their little apples, and the hikers were alerted of the many areas of cat claw plants. This was new to them but one of the hikers is not likely to forget cat claw for a long time.
As we approached the parking lot upon return, it was unanimous that even though this hike was not the longest of any in the Amblers collection it was fun and nice to meet new folks.
"The Westerners always welcome new members! If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website www.sedonawesterners.org. You may also join by attending the next monthly meeting which will be on Thursday, November 12, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Jewish Synagogue and Community Center."