The New Chuck Wagon Trail Passes Muster With Westerners
The Drovers group of the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club had planned a high country hike starting at Midgley Bridge and heading up to the rock formation known as Steamboat. While it wasn't actually raining when we met at the Posse Grounds on a recent Sunday afternoon, the sky was full of dark and ominous clouds.
I was the hike leader and Mickey Gershtenson was co-leader, but we were glad to see veteran Westerner, Bob Dannert, in the crowd, as he is one of the club's most experienced hikers. His sage advice is always valuable. Dannert looked at the sky and shook his head. “It's going to rain,” he said, confirming my own fear. Dannert, Gershtnson and Drover Hike Boss Perlina McCombs and I discussed options and decided that the best plan of action was to opt for the newly opened and more importantly, the low lying, Chuck Wagon Trail which, should it start to rain, would be safer under foot.
Starting at the tiny trail head on the north side of Dry Creek Road, the group walked up through juniper trees until coming to a junction with a new wooden sign directing us to turn left, onto the new Chuck Wagon Trail. Soon we were on an open path that ran parallel to Forest Road 152. That bumpy rough road was out of view, but in the distance we could hear the Pink Jeeps taking tourists down toward Devil's Bridge. After about half a mile, the trail crossed an amphitheater of red rock which provided some spectacular views of the Lizard Head and Balance Rock, and to the southwest, Bear and Doe Mountains.
The Chuck Wagon Trail is popular with mountain bikers, but on that stormy looking day there were no bikers. We had the trail to ourselves apart from a flock of western blue birds spotted by avid birder, Janet Wheeler. A climb up to an outcrop afforded great views down Long Canyon. The hikers found the trail easy underfoot as it wound through groves of more junipers and down into red rock washes.
Our original plan had been to hike for about three miles, to the end of the trail where it overlooks Seven Canyons Golf Course, but at around the two miles point a light rain began to fall, prompting a break on the rocks of a dried up waterfall. Valentine's Day was close, so following the tradition started by Bob Dannert, who is known to all as Cookie Bob, Gershtenson passed out some heart shaped cookies
As we looked out to the heavy rain clouds on the peaks to the southwest, the decision was made that it would be prudent to turn around. For part of the return hike, the trees offered some shelter from the rain, but once we stepped out into the open we found ourselves walking in a steady downpour.
On the drive back toward the Posse Grounds, Steamboat came into view. We could see a torrent of water running down the slick rock, and were glad that we had decided todo the Chuck Wagon Trail instead!
Despite the rain it seemed that most hikers agreed that the Chuck Wagon trail is a welcome new addition to the trail system in Sedona.
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, March 8, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.