Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

February 3, 2012

Monthly Meetings? Sedona Westerners Actually Like Them!


by Mike Holmes

If you arrive at a Sedona Westerners’ Hiking Club monthly meeting close to start time, you have to look hard for a free seat. Some people like business, but everyone looks forward to what comes next! The club invites a speaker to each of the monthly meetings. We are fortunate to be living in an area that has an abundance of interesting people that will share their knowledge and experiences. Speakers have offered presentations on topics such as, the condors of the Grand Canyon, river trips down the Colorado River, the geology of the Sedona area, Iceland, and local history. Last year Liberty Wildlife (a wildlife rehabilitation and education organization in Scottsdale) delivered a presentation on Bald Eagle management. During this presentation, the club members had the unusual opportunity to see 4 eagles that had been rescued, made healthy, and because they could not be released to the wild due to damage, were now part of the organization’s education program.

Our first speaker this season was Bob Shuman. Bob is a member of the Westerners, part of the local search and rescue team and a local photographer. Many of you have seen his photographs of Sedona. Bob shared many of his personal favorite photographs of the Sedona area.

During the fall cookout two members of the Forest Service attended to give the club a firsthand update on the most recent news that affects the club. The cookout venue provides an opportunity for the Westerners and the Forest Service to meet one another in an informal setting that is less structured than the monthly meetings. During the October cookout Connie Birkland, Red Rock District Public Affairs Officer, discussed the latest information on Forest Service activities and the status of the Red Rock Pass. Justin Poehnelt, District Trails Technician, updated us on the new trails being added to the Official Trail System.

Michael Bucheit, Director of The Grand Canyon Field Institute, spoke to the club in November. Michael told stories of his experiences with Institute from his earliest days with an office in The Kolb Brothers Studio to the present. Michael’s presentation was a mixture of amusing stories and exciting adventures in the Canyon.

In January, we were fortunate to have Wayne Ranney speak. Wayne is a noted local author and geologist. Wayne’s presentation was "Retracing the Footsteps of Martha Summerhayes Through the Arizona Territory and Sedona in 1874-1878". While many of the Westerners had heard of Martha Summerhayes (or read her book, Vanishing Arizona,) Wayne brought a more intimate understanding of her story from his chance meeting with her grand children. This led to a tour through Arizona retracing their grandmother’s steps with Wayne as their guide, and provided the inspiration for this presentation.

Our February speaker will be Jennifer Burns from the Forest Service. Jennifer plans to bring us up to date on current Forest Service activities that are of interest to the members as well as discussing a topic that is pertinent to our activities around Sedona. Justin Poehnelt will give the members the latest information on the local trails.

The last 2 speakers will be Sedona Westerner club members. Mike Nelson, a local award-winning photographer, will show some of his outstanding photography from a backpacking trip in the Buckskin Gulch and The Paria River. The speaker for April will be club member Mark Frank. Mark is another talented photographer from Sedona and has recently been published in Arizona Highways. He will be sharing some of his photography from the Sedona area.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website,, for membership information. You may also join at one of our monthly meetings. Our next one will be on Thursday, Feb 9 beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.