Dogies Scales to Cool Heights and Finds Baby Horned Toad
On Tuesday, the 12th of October, the Westerners Dogies met at Posse Grounds parking lot to go over the morning hike instructions for their Kachina Trail hike located on Mt. Humphreys in the Flagstaff area. After dividing up into carpool groups, the hikers were on their way.
It took about an hour to reach the parking lot at Snow Bowl, the Flagstaff skiing area from which the hikers begin the trailhead. Bob and Sally Gardner were the leaders for the hike and Cy Elliott was the tailgater. All hikers were instructed to follow the trail boss and stay in front of the tailgater.
The hikers were delighted with the first hints of autumn color. The aspen trees were just starting their fall hues of golden yellow. The crisp blue skies combined with the yellow green aspen leaves, the white trunks of the trees, and the bracken ferns’ end-of-the season golden-brown hues below all added up to a breathtaking scene. The Dogies moved at a moderate pace, pausing from time to time to snap a photo, or just to savor the aspen grove scenery. Gentle breezes caused a rustling sound in the quaking leaves. The refreshing 60 degrees temps were a welcome relief from the early autumn warmth in Sedona. Kachina Trail #150 is six miles long one way, is rated moderate difficulty, and begins at an elevation of 9325’ and ends at the Weatherford Trail at 8788’ elevation. This trail traverses the mountain rather than heading for the summit of the extinct volcano as many of the Humphreys peak trails do. The coniferous forest section of the Kachina trail included Limber pine, Douglas fir, and Ponderosa pine. Needles from the trees blanket the trail, creating cushioned footing. Barberry plants were seen on the forest floor, ranging in color from a deep green to burgundy. Bunch grass or clump grass was visible in many areas. Most of the wildflowers seen were at the end of their season; thistle, yarrow, asters, dandelion, deer’s ear, and lamb’s ear were less numerous than several weeks earlier.
Giant boulders appeared on various sides of the trail, displaying blue-green and gray lichens.
The Dogies paused to chat with a few forestry workers who were double hand sawing some fallen trees that blocked the path. These trees were felled in the tornadoes that occurred on the morning of October 6th in the Flagstaff area.
Lunch was enjoyed in an alpine meadow providing spectacular views of the Flagstaff area, including the sky dome of NAU, Lowell Observatory, and a distant view of the Oak Creek Canyon area. This was the turnaround point for the hike for a total distance of 6 miles.
A 2” baby horned toad was spotted in the underbrush by one hiker and gently examined, photographed, and returned back to it’s home. Horned toads are actually not toads at all, but Horned lizards. They resemble toads, hence the name. They are considered sacred by various Native American tribes.
When the Dogies returned back to the trailhead, they spent a few minutes enjoying the view of the summit and saddle of the twin peaks, visible from the ski lift area parking lot. The peaks already had some patches of early snow from the storms of the week before.
The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website: www.sedonawesterners.org. You may also join by attending a monthly meeting, our next one will be on Thursday, November 11th, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.