Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

December 11, 2009

A Sunday Hike


by Roberta Avery
& Liz Gannon

With an average age of around 65 and many of the members well into their 70s, it would be easy to imagine that a hike with the Sedona Westerners is a walk in the park.

Think again.

These folks are fit and they scale steep mountain paths with ease. They hop across giant boulders with the sure footedness of experience and rarely show signs of fatigue even after a challenging full day out in beautiful Red Rock Country.

That said you don’t have to be superman – or woman – to enjoy a Westerners outing, as hikes are offered at all levels of ability. So if you are in reasonably good shape and have a good pair of lug-soled boots, a Westerners hike is one of the best ways of seeing the countryside around Sedona.

Break Time Along Huckaby. Photo by Liz Gannon.

So when my husband John and I had company from England in early November, we were delighted when they agreed to join the Westerners and get out for a hike or two.

Tuesday hikes with the Dogies and Sunday hikes with the Drovers are not as challenging as Thursday and Saturday hikes, so seemed ideal for our friend Joanne Keenan from Manchester and John’s sister Liz Gannon from the south of England.

They both agreed that a hike with the Westerners is a fantastic bonus to a vacation and Liz was so enthralled by all that she saw and experienced that she wrote about it in her travel diary.

Here’s what she had to say about a Sunday afternoon hike with the Drovers to the Huckaby Trail.

A beautiful autumn (fall) day in Sedona with an exciting hike planned along the Huckaby Trail. The Sedona Westerners met at the Posse Grounds and a typical Sunday sampling turned up. After being briefed by Drovers’ boss, Kevin O’Connor, regarding the dos and don’ts of hiking with the Westerners, we split up into two groups – relatively fast led by hike leader Bob Dannert and a little slower led by Peter Baenziger.

The hikers then met at the trail head on Schnebly Hill. Opting for the slower pace our family joined Baenziger, who led us on a very colorful walk through heavily wooded areas with undulating terrain.

While the club’s policy is for all hikers to be responsible for their own safety on the trail, this friendly group of people checked that everyone was okay descending the steep bits, where there was a risk of a slip on the shale.

The trail curved around the top of Mitten Ridge with views of Steamboat Rock, Wilson Mountain and then led down to the river bed where the group stopped for a short rest - but long enough for both groups to meet.

A few of the hikers dabbled their feet in the river which flowed gently by. It is always amazing what one finds down by a river bed - for instance there was an ancient mangle (wringer) from an old fashioned washing machine, resting peacefully by some rocks surrounded by wild flowers.

We had all bought a snack and Dannert, known to all as “Cookie Bob” was as good as his name - he brought the cookies! Other hikers had brought pineapple and dried fruit. It was a hikers’ feast. We sorted ourselves into our respective groups letting the first group set off some five minutes before the second group hit the trail again. As it was a particularly warm afternoon there were a group of teenagers sitting on the other side of the river enjoying the afternoon sun. The hike was five miles in total and with the warm sun beating down on us it felt wonderful to be alive.

"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."