“Soldiers Pass Hike and Sights Make for a Great Day”
The day dawned cool and bright for the eight A.M. departure of the Dogies group of the Sedona Westerners' hike to Soldier Pass. Rising temperatures have brought earlier departure times. At the trailhead, the hikers split into two groups, led by John Losse and Deborah Losse. Liz Sweeney and Diane Luce served ably as tailgaters.
The trail took the hikers along the wash up to the wilderness boundary, where a side trip to the arches provided a splendid panorama of Soldier Pass and beyond. It was only with the steep incline that hikers began removing their fleece jackets to enjoy the sunny weather. From there they followed the rocks around to the high point on Brins Mesa. The overlook of the Brins Mesa Trail afforded an expansive vista of Capitol Butte, also known as Old Greyback or Thunder Mountain. This was the perfect spot for the first break and a chance to take in the crispness of the early morning. The blue sky and clear views made it an ideal time for photographing the red rocks. The hikers were fortunate to have the presence and expertise of veteran hiker and author of Sedona Area Names and Places, Jean Kindig, who shared her knowledge of the area with fellow Westerners.
Break over, the group set forth west on the Brins Mesa Trail and admired the flowers and new spring growth of the trees. Signs of spring made themselves evident in the burst of tiny yellow flowers and the occasional Indian Paint Brush emerging from the soil.
Making their way up the ledges above Brins Mesa Trail, the hikers followed a red rock ledge around to take in the spectacular expanse of the Dry Creek drainage area. The merits of the view gave way to a discussion of the best spot for lunch break. Given the brilliant blue sky and the great views, there is hardly a spot that is not good.
While the hike up to the ledge was open and easy to navigate, it was more difficult to make one's way through cactus and brush for the return. Cat's-claw and prickly pear cactus impeded progress. One highlight as we made our way down to the wash was the spotting of bear scat. Fortunately, no bear was in view, but the sighting occasioned a string of bear stories from such disparate geographic locations as Lake Tahoe and Wisconsin. The descent offered some challenges thanks to loose rock and incline. It was definitely a day to trust those lug-soled boots, as the group made their way down a series of short vertical inclines and level ledges with enjoyable views over the expanse of Brins Mesa and Mormon Overlook.
The cool that marked the day's start gave way to warm sun. Shade provided by the trees overhanging the wash was much appreciated in the early afternoon. The group returned via the Soldier Pass Trail and the wash, for a total of 6.8 miles. All were happy to have enjoyed hiking on one of the last temperate days before the temperatures rise and some Westerners return to cooler climates.
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. However, there is no regular meeting in May, due to the annual spring barbecue. The next regular meeting will be in September.