Soldiers Pass and Cibola Ridge Loop
New member Maureen Rodgers, originally from Pittsburg, PA was welcomed; and experienced Westerner’s hikers Stefka Regelous and husband Robert Paterson of London, England were welcomed back. Clint Gelotte, hike leader, reviewed the hike, reminding the group that although it would be a relatively short one he thought it was pretty and one the group would enjoy. That would prove to be an understatement.
After carpooling to the Soldiers Pass Trail Head, the group started the gentle climb up the trail and was treated to the exceptional beauty of sun sparkling on the snow, emphasizing the natural color of a stand of blue/green Arizona Cypress trees. A few hikers spotted a western bluebird flitting about in a tree, chatting with its mate. Shortly after, the group took a trail to a picturesque red rock knoll for a break, where the hikers found their own spot of smooth red rock and were treated to delicious homemade chocolate chip brownies offered by their hike co-leader, Louise Gelotte. And how often can hikers say they listened to a flute performance on a hike, while noshing on double chocolate brownies, in such a fabulous setting? Fellow hiker Robert Sechrengosthad packed his flute, found an inconspicuous spot to treat the hikers to some improvised music on their break. All good things must come to an end… and in this case, another good thing started…. Leader, Clint, gave the three minute warning that the hike was about to resume, and pointed out double thumbed Mitten Rock*, Brins Ridge, and where we were headed to next… into the woods and down the wash.
As the hikers descended into the wash, wet snow, and the shade of the woods, there was a noticeable drop in temperature. The stream at the bottom of the wash was frozen solid, reminding us all that the freeze Sedona had been experiencing of late wasn’t quite ready to let go. Then came something that many hikers experience and rarely find pleasant, a brush with an Agave plant. Hike safety protocol was followed when hiker Jean Turner managed to puncture a vein in her leg with one of the spiny leaves. A whistle was blown to notify the hike leader that something was amiss; alcohol swab and a bandage were pulled out of first aid kits, direct pressure applied, and by the time the hike leader had come back to investigate, the bleeding had been staunched, bandage applied and Jean was ready to continue. As the ascent was completed, hikers were reminded to look back to where they came from… the view was exquisite! The back side of the Sphinx, east side of Thunder Mountain, Bear Mountain in the distance - even the Mingus Mountains - all covered in a light dusting of snow. This is a time when hikers pause to take in the beauty of the magnificent vistas. Continuing over the crest of the hill, and onto an unnamed knoll on the Cibola trail, they stopped for lunch.
The group took in the spectacular 360 degree vistas of Brins Ridge, Wilson, The Fin, The Sail, Steamboat, Mitten Ridge, Sedona neighborhoods and beyond… it seemed to be never ending… all the while chatting with friends and fellow hikers…. All too soon it was time to pack up, leave no trace, and finish the remaining short bit of the loop that was left. We ended exiting at the east side of Devils Kitchen, back to the Trail Head and carpooling the return ride to Posse Grounds. What a hike! The Hike leaders and the Tailgater, Tom Blecha, were thanked profusely and the hikers went their separate ways, still savoring fond memories and looking forward to the next hike.
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 the next monthly meeting, which will be held on Thursday, February 10th; at 7 pm. Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.