Imposing Weather Changes Hiking Plans
With imposing weather, the Sedona Westerners met at the Posse Grounds for a Mustang hike into West Fork. After a brief discussion about many water crossings and the uncertainty of the weather forecast, everyone agreed to change directions south to Woods Canyon.
Woods Canyon trail is located southeast of Sedona and is protected by the Munds Mountain Wilderness. The trail head is located at the southeast end of the Red Rock Ranger District Visitors Center just south of the Village of Oak Creek.
Hike leader Pat Witteman led with Mike Holmes as tailgater. Witteman explained that Dry Beaver Creek is flowing higher than normal this time of year, but with only one stream to cross at the beginning, she was confident everyone could get across, since it was a smaller stream off Dry Beaver Creek.
As we began our hike across the relatively flat portion of the trail, Pat explained many of the wild flowers that were beginning to appear such as penstemon, globe mallow, desert paint brush and banana yucca. The trail follows the left side of the water channel, without great views, but you always have the sound of the rushing torrent of water this time of year. As we progressed further into the canyon we began to see both the Arizona Sycamore and Arizona Cypress trees and the trail became more shaded. Cypress trees typically burn up in dry regions of the country but the Arizona Cypress gives beautiful color with minimal water needs. It has little value when grown for timber but has been used for Christmas trees and for some hobby and craft items.
The group hiked further with a significant elevation gain and more spectacular vistas came into view. The red sandstone ledges were on the left side and Pat cautioned everyone to stay on the trail and beware of rock falls which are common in this terrain.
There was a scheduled stop for lunch at a beautiful overlook and to view the many side streams flowing down from Rattlesnake Canyon into Dry Beaver Creek. Above this confluence is a gauging station in the bottom of the canyon which was build by Department of Agriculture personnel. It is perched above a 40 foot sheer drop and the station monitors the rain and snowmelt water flow through the canyon. The day that we were there the flow was 40 cfs.
After the break Mustang boss, Mike Holmes, who is very familiar with this area pointed out the Hot Loop trail intersecting from Horse Mesa. He cautioned that the trail is not a loop and hikers should not deviate from established trails in this area. To hike the entire 12 mile length of the canyon is a very remote trip and very dangerous for the unprepared. It is an extreme pleasure to be led by the experienced and capable Sedona Westerners hike leaders. After lunch and photo opportunities, the impending weather dictated a return trip to the trailhead. Even with the change in weather, everyone had a wonderful experience and we all returned with dry feet.
The Westerners always welcome new members! If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website www.sedonawesterners.org.