Westerners Hike to Fisher Point for Views and Cooler Breezes
On a recent Tuesday in early fall, the Dogies group of the Westerners met for a moderate hike just south of Flagstaff. The hike was seven miles and consisted of 900’ change in elevation. The trail leader was Mickey Gershtenson, assisted by co-leader Alan Gore and tailgater Kwi Johnson. There were several new hikers in the group and everyone was introduced and got acquainted.
After carpooling from Sedona to the parking lot for the Canyon Vista Campground off Mary’s Lake Rd., the hikers, well prepared with plenty of water and lug-soled hiking boots, set off through a forest of Ponderosa pine and Arizona juniper on the Sandy’s Canyon Trail. As they walked along the rim of the canyon, hikers were treated almost immediately with a view of an impressive lava flow area of huge basaltic boulders in the canyon below. The volcanic San Francisco Peaks towered on the horizon, still untouched by snow and ice. A 200’ descent to the left of the boulder field brought the hikers across the bed of Walnut Creek, and then left, down an old path into an alpine meadow, and a relatively flat trek for about a mile and a half. On the descent into the meadow, the bright red color of sumac enlivened the steep, wooded hillside. White yarrow, rabbit’s broom, mullein, asters, lupine, and yellow composites decorated the meadow with their last blooms of the season.
In the meadow the Sandy's Canyon Trail ended at the junction with the nearly 800 miles AZ Trail that extends from Mexico to Utah. There were several trails that branched off – Marshall Lake via the Arizona Trail, one to Flagstaff, one into Walnut Canyon. The Arizona Trail continued on the flat and climbed on up to the hike destination for this hike, Fisher Point. The hikers went on past the trail up to Fisher Point for a snack break, and took some time to examine an evening primrose – a striking, creamy yellow blossom of four heart-shaped petals. They also admired some colorful cliffs of Coconino sandstone and Toroweap Formation. This marked the entrance to a narrow part of the trail into Walnut Canyon. After a snack break at this entrance, the Dogies retraced their steps to the trail to Fisher Point. At this turn the Arizona Trail heads in a northern direction. The Westerners trudged up a scenic and forested wash area, which provided refreshing mountain breezes and lots of shade. Once past that, there was a series of gradual switchbacks up to Fisher Point, the destination and lunch spot. The switchbacks also provided excellent views of the San Francisco Peaks as well as Mt. Kendrick.
Once the hikers arrived at Fisher Point, everyone chose a place with a fine view for gourmet dining, yet close to the group. They were gazing below at Walnut Canyon, at the head of which they had had snack time. There was a very steep drop-off into the canyon and the sandstone cliffs had striking color markings of gold and rust. A pair of red tailed hawks soared peacefully above us and a turkey vulture gave us a curious glance. Also, a mountain chickadee scolded everyone for invading his territory. Some hikers chose to remove their boots and socks to give themselves a chance to re-boot and re-lace and provide a siesta for tired feet.
Returning to the parking lot on the same trail provided a different view of the gorgeous scenery. As always, the company was excellent and spirits were high, as another hiking memory was made!
The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website, www.sedonawesterners.org., for membership information. You may also join at one of our monthly meetings. Our next one will be on Thursday, Nov. 10, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley Center, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.