Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

November 27, 2009

Cathedral and Then Some


by Pat Witteman

On a recent fall Saturday a group of Sedona Westerners found themselves between a vortex and a hard place as they set off on the Baldwin Trail to enjoy the day’s hike, Cathedral and Then Some. The weather was Sedona perfect with a nice breeze to cool the hikers as they began this strenuous climb.

Co-led by Rough Rider leaders George Witteman and Mike Holmes, the hike began with the first goal in sight, Napoleon’s Tomb. With Witteman in the lead and Holmes acting as tailgater, it wasn’t long before the hikers would tackle their first steep ascent. Knowing this was a Rough Rider hike, no one was surprised, although a few were breathless. The Rough Riders hike on Saturdays and the hikes are the most challenging offered by the Westerners, with the distance frequently 8-10 miles, a faster pace, significant elevation change and often rock scrambling and ledge walking.

Happy Hikers Taking a Break. Photo by George Witteman.

As the group gathered up on level ground, Witteman took a few moments to talk about the surrounding area. The Baldwin Trail is named after Andrew Baldwin, who was one of the owners of Crescent Moon Ranch, purchasing the property in 1936. Witteman also talked about the rock formation, unofficially dubbed, ‘Napoleon’s Tomb’. This sarcophagus shaped rock sits atop the larger formation that the Baldwin Trail circumnavigates. Witteman produced a photo of the actual tomb of Napoleon, located outside Paris, and most agreed there was an uncanny resemblance to the rock the group was aiming for. Witteman also mentioned that Cathedral Rock, now in prominent view, was one of Sedona’s four major vortexes as claimed by New Age believers. It is considered to be a major feminine vortex.

The hikers now began a more gradual ascent to the tomb formation. Upon reaching their goal, the group enjoyed the 360 degree views, taking photos and enjoying a snack. After their break the hikers began a gradual descent, but it didn’t last long. Crossing the Baldwin Trail, it was once again up the steep south side of Cathedral Rock. Here is where the Rough Rider promise of rock scrambling and ledge climbing was appreciated. Also appreciated was all the “eye candy”, what Witteman called the magnificent views from all aspects of the hike. Lunch was enjoyed when the hikers reached the saddle of Cathedral Rock. Dessert was chocolates provided by the leader and a serenade by fellow hiker Jack Leahy.

The leaders informed the group, from this point, the going would be “all downhill”. With Holmes now taking the lead and Witteman tailgating, they guided the group carefully down to the Templeton Trail. The hikers noted on their descent the basalt dike that passes from east to west through the Cathedral Rock formation. They noted too that hiking downhill isn’t necessarily easier than hiking uphill.

Reaching the Templeton Trail, aching knees were given a rest, while Witteman offered more information on the area. Referencing fellow Westerner Jean Kindig’s book, ‘Sedona Area Places and Names’, he explained the trail had been named for Harry Templeton, a veteran of the Spanish American War. Templeton came to the Sedona area in the 1930’s and in the 1940’s the USFS gave him a Special Use Permit to live and ranch the land east of Cathedral Rock, although he never homesteaded or owned the property. In 1970, following his death, the remains of his house were removed.

The hikers continued their circumnavigation of Cathedral Rock on the Templeton Trail. The finale of this enjoyable day found the hikers sitting on a slick rock island, dangling their weary, hot feet in the cool water of Oak Creek, watching golden autumn leaves raining down, while being serenaded once again by Jack Leahy singing the Rough Rider theme song, “It’s Hard To Be Humble”.

The Westerners always welcome new members! 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, January 14th, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley.