Westerners Party With “Twisted Sister”
Hiding in plain sight, the “Seven Sisters” formation just north-west of the Village of Oak Creek, is one of the largest and least explored geologic features in the area.
Measuring nearly two miles in length, its silhouette is highlighted by a series of rounded peaks, seven of which are responsible for its local name. One pinnacle on the East flank, with a uniquely rotated and sinewy shape, is the inspiration behind “Twisted Sister”, a new hike recently added to the Sedona Westerner portfolio via the hard work and scouting skills of member Paul Sullivan.
As a club, the Westerner’s collective knowledge of local trails goes back more than fifty years, so it is a rare and exciting event when a new route is discovered. At a distance of eight miles and total elevation gain of 1600 feet the hike was a much anticipated challenge for the Saturday Westerner hikers, the “Rough Riders”. Using established, multi-use trails leaders Sullivan and Al VanDerPeut set a pace that allowed hikers to appreciate the spectacular views that this hike provides: Bell Rock to the east, Cathedral Rock to the north, the Oak Creek watershed to the west, and the cornerstone of the Seven Sisters, Castle Rock to the south. Many hikers enjoyed spotting their homes in the Big Park and Little Park neighborhoods far below, hiding neatly between the monuments.
Of necessity, the trail winds in and out following the shapely curves of the Sisters, around sheer red rock cliffs and steep ravines. Hedgehog cacti seem to really thrive in this area, and the hikers were careful to give them all a wide berth. Smooth rock benches for breaks and lunch were easily located and, in fine Westerner fashion, the two leaders provided snacks as demanded by the hungry mob.
After a long traverse of the western slope Castle Rock finally comes into view, a solitary pinnacle marking the southern end of the Seven Sisters. Board-walk like stretches of Fort Apache limestone sit high on the cliffs here, and can seem more accessible then they really are. Sullivan’s route allowed the “Rough Riders” to skirt the edge of Castle Rock, thereby completing the circle around the entire Seven Sisters complex.
Descending, finally, to the trailhead, hikers shared their impressions of the day. Exploring this extraordinary landscape with friends and, on this particular day, the excitement of a new hike successfully completed, all felt like a holiday party to our fortunate group.
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, January 13, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.