Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

March 5, 2010

Tracks, Snacks and Cracks... The Mustangs Hike Brins Ridge


by Pat Witteman

The Westerner Mustang group made tracks up the Brins Mesa trail on a recent Thursday morning. It was just another perfect Sedona hiking day with a cloudless sky and bright sunshine. Knowing the day’s hike would involve a few strenuous uphill climbs, many in the group opted to begin the hike by shedding bulky clothing layers despite the morning chill. Mustang Hike Boss, Mike Holmes, and co-leader Gus Rousonelos would be leading the hike with tailgater Heather Baker making sure no one fell behind. Holmes set a comfortable pace to warm up the hikers for the uphill climb soon to come.

The Mustangs on their way to lunch atop Brins Ridge. Photo by Alan Gore.

The first part of the Brins Mesa trail resembles a wide jeep road and winds gently through a forested area before climbing towards Brins Mesa. Taking a slight detour brought the group to a flat red rock area with views of Brins Ridge. Spreading out in the morning sunshine, the hikers enjoyed a morning break and a delicious snack of homemade beef jerky, compliments of fellow hiker and “jerky maker extraordinaire”, Bernie Platte.

Back on the trail following their break, the hikers were aware the ascent was becoming steeper as it neared the mesa. Looking across Mormon Canyon, which parallels the Brins Mesa trail, at the distant wall of Wilson Mountain, the hikers were able to see dark lines on the mountain wall indicating the seasonal waterfall, Angel Falls. Mormon Canyon may have been named for the Mormon families who camped in the area in the 1890’s. Another version is that young fellows from Jerome camped in the area and jokingly called themselves Mormons and their camp site Mormon Camp.

Reaching Brins Mesa, the group paused to catch their breath and shed more layers before beginning the strenuous uphill climb to Brins Ridge. The trail to the top is now starkly open and marked by the Brins Mesa fire of 2006. The group hiked the steep trail at a pace comfortable for each hiker, always staying behind the leaders and in front of the tailgater. Reaching the summit, the Mustangs hiked the ridge line anticipating a lunch destination with fantastic views. Suddenly the group was surprised to hear shouting voices coming from a distance. Looking around, the group spotted a group of people shouting and waving from an adjacent pinnacle. Digging out binoculars, the Mustangs were surprised to see another Westerner group, the Scouts, enjoying a hike in the same vicinity.

Spreading out on all sides of the ridge to enjoy lunch, a group of us chose the side overlooking Brins Mesa. The view is certainly different three years after the fire. The open expanse of the mesa, seen clearly from the top of the ridge, was a reminder that the mesa had been a grazing area in the late 1800’s. Lore says the mesa is named after a maverick bull, “Ol’ Brind”, who led a couple of cowboys on a merry chase. A fitting finale to the enjoyable lunch, co-leader Gus passed out another snack: delicious homemade cookies.

Holmes now led the hikers back across the ridge and carefully down the steep trail to the mesa. The hike today would be a loop, so leaving the Brins Mesa trail the Mustangs began heading for the Soldier Pass area. Along the route the group discovered an interesting and deep crack, or fissure, separating into two parts the red rock table they were hiking on. Fascinating geologic features such as this and the many arches and caves visible from the Soldier Pass trail add to the enjoyment of hiking in Sedona. Further along the hikers stopped to observe the Seven Sacred Pools and the Devil’s Kitchen sinkhole. While at the sinkhole the group took time to examine some of the growing cracks which indicate this already huge sinkhole is due to become even wider.

The final leg of the days hike was a gradual uphill track on the Cibola trail. This lovely area passes through a forest of Arizona cypress and afforded the hikers a nice view of the rock formation, Cibola Mitten. The name Cibola refers to the fabled Seven Cities of Gold. The Mustangs found no gold, but did find a lot of fun and exercise on this enjoyable hike.

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, March 11th, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley.