Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

October 2, 2009

Fossil Creek After The Deconstruction


by Mickey Gershtenson

On a typical beautiful Sedona day people came together from Cottonwood, Cornville, Big Park, and Sedona to meet in Camp Verde and carpool via Strawberry to the upper lot of the Fossil Springs trail. There were a few groans as the hikers who had been in the area on previous hikes realized that they had to hike an additional mile plus round trip as the lower parking lot was no longer accessible.

Break Time along Fossil Creek. Photo by Gus Rousonelos.

The newcomers to this trail were not aware of the difference between Fossil Springs and Fossil Creek. They assumed that they were going to spend most of the day hiking along a “crick” and when Tom Blecha, hike leader par excellence, described the day there was definitely a degree of surprise. However, the spirit picked up immediately when they were able to start off going downhill. Mustang Boss Jerry Walters was with the group today and volunteered to be Tailgater; although, his underlying reason, was to be able to spy on his colts and fillies.

The trail goes through the Tonto and Coconino National Forests and the Gila and Coconino Counties. It is about three miles from the upper parking lot to the Springs crossing the Mail Trail near the bottom. This trail used to be the route followed by the Mail rider, who would start from Camp Verde at 2:00 in the morning and reach Payson at 2:00 in the afternoon. A rider would meet the Mail rider near the bottom of the canyon and take the mail destined for the workers at the Childs Power Plant and those working on the flume that diverted water from the springs to be used for power generation.

Walking along the upper part of the creek and the springs and seeing the extensive amount of water rushing out of the banks prompted the discussion of how much water was actually going down the creek. Researching it showed that there was 45 cfs (cubic feet per second) that day which translates into 1,215,000 gallons per hour!

This was the first time the Sedona Westerners had an official hike here after the trail area was reopened. The hike was originally scheduled for November, 2008, and finally took place the last day of April, 2009. As the group approached the old dam site it was obvious as to the new flow of the creek and one could no longer rock hop from one side to the other as was previously done. It is still a beautiful area until about 400 yards before the old dam site. That is when one can see what has been done and several of the hikers who had been there before said they wanted to cry. The deconstruction was mandated by the courts after a law suit wanted the area returned to its native format.

Following a leisurely lunch, Tom handed out trash bags for the return part of the hike and the group followed a Westerners custom doing clean up of the trail and area that was being used. There was grumbling of the hikers – not about picking up trash – but that people don’t care and just leave so much junk around the area and the majority of which was not even biologically degradable. The trail head has signs to Leave No Trace and this is the Fossil Creek Wilderness Area. Fossil Creek itself has recently been awarded a Wild and Scenic River status.

Some things never change with the Westerners and one of those was exhibited today when, as usual, Kwi Johnson picked up the most trash. She received the Schmutz Award and got a brand new trash bag to hang up in her home.

Our Hike Leader and Tailgater got everyone back to the vehicles in record time; not necessarily a good thing as the record was for the slowest time. However, more trash was picked up than usual. Thanks to Tom for a great hike.

The Westerners always welcome new members! If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website