Every Hike with the Westerners is Somebody’s Favorite
For those new to the Verde Valley, every hike with the Sedona Westerner’s Hiking Club brings new sights and new knowledge of the beautiful land that surrounds Sedona. This was particularly true of the hike to Honanki Overlook that even some of the most experienced Westerners in the group declared as one of their favorites.
The Rough Rider group’s hike began by entering Loy Canyon and traveling through a relatively flat area with some thick vegetation. The two groups were lead by Al VanderPeut and Bob Dannert with Kwi Johnson and Perlina McCombs tailgating. Before beginning the ascent several participated in an informal initiation by climbing a dead alligator juniper. Shortly after beginning the ascent to the overlook we had our first opportunity to wave to the helicopter flying overhead which was giving the passengers a look at the canyon and Cliffside ruins.
As we continued upward it became more evident why this hike was rated difficult. Shortly after reaching the altitude containing the sights of interest we were treated to another visit by the whirring machine, this time at eye level. The chopper was so close; the hikers offered a backcountry greeting to the occupants. Continuing up, the group climbed through a narrow passage which all but one hiker made without difficulty. That one was attacked from behind by a cactus, which led to the group breaking into separate male, and female groups while the offending barbs left by the prickly pear were removed!
By this time in the hike the elevation reached was providing beautiful views of Loy Canyon. There were more stunning views to the west as we crested the saddle below the uppermost section of the hill. Traversing the western edge, we reached a large open area that became the group’s lunch spot. The open air dining was drenched in sunlight, with it now being sufficiently warm to be in shorts and T-shirts for some. Just a beautiful location!
While many of us would have been willing to stay and just absorb the view, it was time to finish our way around the formation. After a little more exploring the most challenging section of the hike faced the groups, as a very narrow ledge had to be traversed. The ledge dissolved almost entirely requiring an “air step” to stride from one minute foothold to another. It was a “don’t look down” experience that was cleared without incident. This led to a rather open area high about the mouth of Loy Canyon that was likely cultivated by the early inhabitants, as it seemed to be the only suitable area for that purpose without hiking to the valley below.
The lovely little white flower of an anemone peered at us from beneath a prickly pear as we regrouped to continue our way back. The helicopter reappeared, this time below us. So, we had benefit of the noise of a helicopter above us, opposite us, and below us interrupting the peace of the otherwise serene overlook.
Our final descent began back on the west side overlooking Loy Canyon. The group went down through a narrow slot which looked more menacing than it was. Also, looking up during the descent provided a great view of the nearly vertical face above us. Finally, back at our vehicles there were lots of smiling faces in appreciation for a great 6 mile hike with great leadership and a shared appreciation for the beauty that we had all experienced.
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, April 12, beginning at 7p.m. at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.