Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

November 16, 2012

Mustangs Up To The Grandview Challenge

 


by Cathy Lutz

Before dawn on a chilly October morning, a group of Sedona Westerners assembled at departure locations in the Village and West Sedona. Their goal that day was a hike of the challenging 3-mile Grandview Trail, a perennial favorite with the Thursday hiking group, the Mustangs. It would be a day of “firsts”: half the group had not hiked the trail before, and for long-time Arizona resident Everett Davidson it would be his first Grand Canyon hike ever. He was in for a treat!

Piling into waiting vehicles, the hikers headed north shortly after 6 a.m. to rendezvous for a comfort stop at Cameron Trading Post. Departing the trading post, the group drove on to the eastern entrance of Grand Canyon National Park, arriving at Grandview Point just after 8:30 a.m. By 9 a.m. hike leader Doug Reinika had rounded up everyone, and the hikers eagerly stepped onto the trail, elevation 7,400 feet, accurately rated as "steep, steep, steep." Holding up the rear was co-leader Cathy Lutz who served as tailgater.


Mustangs at Coconino Saddle take time for a group photo.
Photo by Cathy Lutz.

Perfect weather and trail conditions allowed the Mustangs to focus on the task of making their way down the incredibly steep trail and navigating its cliff-hugging switchbacks. As they descended further into the Canyon, the hikers were awed by the inspiring structures and vivid colors surrounding them--and by the remarkable construction of the trail itself. Unlike other Grand Canyon trails that follow natural features, Grandview Trail was built in 1893 by miner Pete Berry primarily for utilitarian purposes—to move ore out and supplies in to his Horseshoe Mesa mining operations using the most direct route possible to maximize economic productivity. To construct the trail, Berry used timbers to create unique log cribbing, added steel rods for reinforcement, carved out huge stepping stones, and carefully laid closely fitted cobblestones. While holding up well over time with little maintenance, today's Grandview Trail has remained quite challenging because of its steep drop-offs and narrow ledges that required the Mustangs to negotiate with great care.

At mile 1.1, the hikers reached a welcome refuge, the Coconino Saddle, a shady overlook above a dramatic, east-facing gully. After resting their knees, enjoying a morning snack, and taking the obligatory group photo, the Mustangs resumed their descent into the canyon as the trail dropped steeply and then traversed a nearly level area before the hikers encountered rocks and washouts. After a while, the group emerged onto wide-open Horseshoe Mesa at an elevation of 4,800 feet where they passed the stone remnants of Last Chance Mine's cookhouse. Instead of exploring the mine site, hike leader Doug opted to extend the hike another mile out Horseshoe Mesa's left arm, whose tip afforded dramatic views of the Colorado River below.

Just shy of the river viewpoint, the hikers stopped dead in their tracks. They were hungry, and it was time for lunch! By 12:30 p.m., they were well nourished, well rested, and eager to retrace their route to the rim when the real work would begin. Debby Losse's backward glance at the rim above served to remind everyone of the demanding effort ahead. Reversing positions, co-leader Cathy led the hikers out, with leader Doug dropping back as tailgater, a move that ensured all hikers would return safely. The initial brisk pace slowed as the incline became steeper and more rugged. Periodic stops allowed time to rest tired legs and catch breath. It also allowed the hikers to drink in the canyon views and savor the ever-changing colors and shadows on the canyon walls as the sun began to lower.

By 4 p.m., all hikers had reached the rim, smiling and satisfied with their accomplishment. While Barbara O'Connor explained, "I am done, done, done... I am so done with hiking the Grand Canyon!!!"………. that's only until next time.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining, visit www.sedonawesterners.org. You also may join at our monthly meetings. The next one is January 10th, 2012 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona. Decemeber's meeting will be replaced by the Clubs Holiday party.