Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

April 8, 2011

Circumnavigation of Cathedral


by Roberta Avery

Cathedral Rock is the most photographed place in Sedona. Its iconic towering spires symbolize Sedona like no other place and are a magnet to visitors from all over the world.

They come to climb Cathedral's well- worn route to the saddle, sometimes they recklessly wear flip flops and carry cameras with giant lenses instead of the water they will need long before they reach the top.

While most would agree that this is one of the world's beauty spots, few get see Cathedral from every angle as the Dogies did on a Westerners' hike circumnavigating Cathedral Rock in February.

Westerners explore Cathedral from another angle. Photo by Alan Gore.

Led by Perlina McCombs, our group - all meeting the club requirement to wear lug sole boots and to carry plenty of water - set off from the Back O' Beyond parking lot and what would be nearly an eight-mile hike. Although the weather forecast called for sunny skies that day, it was gray and overcast as we linked up with the Templeton Trail and headed north. The overcast skies made the towering rocks of Cathedral Rock seem almost stark and foreboding, but did nothing to dampen the spirits of the group.

In no time at all we reached Oak Creek and McCombs led us off to see a shelter built under a rock pile. With two Mexican-style blankets covering the doorway, this was possibly still someone's home, so Westerner Cathy Lutz knocked on the door frame to make sure no-one was home before pulling back the blankets to peer inside. The shelter was abandoned, but had obviously been lived in at sometime.

Our group continued on past the river and stopped opposite Buddha beach where we noted that many of the rock piles built into Buddha like shapes had been washed away in the heavy rains of late December. Our route took us up onto the Baldwin Trail and as we climbed up, the promised blue skies materialized and sunshine bathed the west side of Cathedral Rock giving the rocks their famous red glow. As we moved on up the Baldwin Trail, the view of the giant spires of Cathedral Rock changed to a different angle and it appeared as if they were almost touching.

Next we climbed up onto the ride south of Cathedral where McCombs found a scenic outcrop for our lunch spot. From here, we looked back at yet another view of Cathedral Rock, which was still bathed in a red glow of an afternoon sun. Our path led us away from Cathedral, but we caught glimpses of it as we looked back from the corners on the trail. After more than one mile, we began a descent down to a path that eventually joined the Templeton Trail.

Our path led us through an open meadow, which had been part of the Templeton ranch at one time. With Cathedral Rock forming a backdrop against the green meadow, there was no doubt that this was yet another spot of exceptional beauty, but we wondered what kind of crops they grew in the dry red sand.

Then just as we were trying to imagine life for the early ranchers, we came across the remains of old automobile nearly total covered in shifting red sand. There was very little exposed to the air, but from what we could see it looked like a vehicle from the 1950s and that of course led to more speculation about how it had ended up there in the middle of a meadow.

The meadow proved to be the last leg of our journey and in no time at all we were back at the parking lot having completed a total circumnavigation of Cathedral Rock and looked at it from several points of view.

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 held on Thursday, April 14; at 7 pm. Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.