Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

November 2, 2012

Tracker Hikes Highlight Human Resources


by Charlie Schudson

As many know, the Sedona Westerners helps hundreds of hikers enjoy our extraordinary natural resources. But how many know of the Westerners’ specialized human resources helping hikers understand what they so enjoy?

Bob Dannert discusses with the group some “Westerner” history and safety subjects along with a realistic self-assessment of ability and physical condition. Photo by Karen Schudson.

Of course, our hikers learn about trail navigation and hiking safety from our many able leaders. But notably, in our treasure chest of Westerners are special gems – men and women with specialized expertise and teaching talent. And through our “Tracker” hikes, they sparkle.

Once or twice each month, a Tracker hike features less hiking and more teaching – on history, archeology, geology, ornithology, ethnobotany, and even snow shoeing. And each Tracker hike highlights one of the Westerners’ wonderful human resources. On a recent October morning, a dozen Westerners – many of them new members – were treated to a Tracker tutorial with a sparkling Westerners gem: Bob Dannert.

Imagine the ideal hiking “classroom” – a perfectly illuminated red rock alcove just above the base of Cathedral Rock; an intimate seminar allowing ample time for discussion; and a teacher with world class hiking credentials and a sweet teaching style to reach each “student,” beginner or advanced. That’s “Hiking 101” with Bob Dannert.

Bob presented a bit of Westerners history and referred to for a complete account. He covered safety subjects – equipment, with emphasis on clothing, headlamps, boots, straps and poles; satellite phone technology; hydration and first aid; preparation, starting with a realistic self-assessment of ability and physical condition; trail selection, with careful review of the Westerners website, which tells each hike’s difficulty, distance, elevation, and conditions such as creek crossings, rock scrambles, and edges/ledges.

Bob conveyed the critical balance between individual and group responsibility, addressing several issues including: pack-in/pack-out; respect for rock art, artifacts and ruins; deference to hike leaders; and the importance of never taking unnecessary risks by giving in to peer pressure. And Bob demonstrated the importance of hiking nutrition, treating us all to his home baked, high-energy cookies.

Thus, in addition to hiking countless canyons, climbing magnificent mountains, wading rushing streams, scrambling wondrous red rocks … Westerners learn. This year, our Tracker hikes are coordinated by Ken and Marcia Lee, and our treasure chest of sparkling gems includes Bob Dannert, Ron Schneider, Dena Greenwood, Randy Miller, Jerry Walters, Sandy Unger, Jean Kindig, George Witteman, Ken Zoll, Mike Ward, Cindy Emmett, Wayne Ranney, Jean Trevillyan, Roy Julian, and Doug Reinika.

Twenty years ago, after many years of Eastern and Midwestern hiking, I brought three E’s to Sedona – Experience, Endurance, and Enthusiasm – just enough to make me dangerous. Without the fourth E – Education – I assumed that Southwestern hiking wasn’t all that different. Wrong … and for some, deadly wrong. In fact, many Sedona search-and-rescues are not of novices but, rather, of seasoned hikers from afar who do not know our very different dryness, terrain, and sudden darkness. Without our Tracker “faculty” and other Westerners mentors, I still would be a 3-E hiker, placing myself and others at risk.

So hikers – experienced or otherwise – as you come to Sedona and consider your hiking options, concentrate on that fourth E and gain the Education essential to years of stupendous, safe hiking. And consider that, for many, the key to savoring Sedona’s natural resources has been the Westerners human resources.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is on Thursday, November 8, 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.