Dogies Re-Do the Dawa Loop Trail
On an unseasonably warm October day, the Dogie group left Posse Grounds for a variant of the Dawa Loop hike. Omitting the Two Fence and OK trails, two groups led by Linda Schermer and Harry Schermer, with tailgaters Liz Sweeney and Michael Dally, started the 7-mile hike from the north end of the Girdner Trail. The current Westerner Trail Boss Mike Holmes, plus two former Trail Bosses, Liz Sweeney and George Witteman, joined the Dogie hikers. A couple of early "snowbirds" from Calgary, Canada also joined in.
The route was composed of segments of six trails, forming what the Westerners call a lollipop: a loop with a stem. At the first crossing of Dry Creek Wash, Schermer briefly led the group into a scenic side wash, known by bikers as "New Year's Wash", and then picked up the Rupp Trail. The Girdner and Rupp trails are named for early ranching families. Glen Girdner had delivered mail, on horseback, from Cornville to Sedona, in the early 1900's, and joked that he invented "air mail" because when the creek was running high, he had to heave the mail across to the recipients.
This section of the Girdner Trail includes several slopes with good views of Chimney Rock and Cockscomb on the high spots. The Rupp Trail heads up steeply on an old jeep road. Handsome rocky bluffs are visible along the route, and Doe and Bear Mountains come into view. The Rupp Trail ends at the junction with the Cockscomb Trail, near a fence surrounding the former Tree Farm, which is now a subdivision called The Aerie. Schermer informed the group that the Tree Farm had imported attractive trees called Afghan or Mondell Pines, which unfortunately may become infected by a disease, Comandra Blister Rust, which has an alternate local host, the Bastard Toadflax (Commandra pallida), an attractive yellow wildflower. Many of these pines are planted in Sedona, some continuing to thrive while others suffer poor growth or die-back.
Hike segment number three, the Cockscomb Trail, runs off Boynton Pass Road from the Fay Canyon parking area, and has been extended to the base of Cockscomb (graphically featured on Sedona's city flag), then joins the Aerie Trail. Pausing by a stand of the invasive and water-grabbing shrub, Tamarisk, Schermer and George Witteman commented on its introduction a century ago to stabilize soil. Without any natural predators, it has spread widely and displaces native species. Attempts to eradicate it involve pulling and digging (very difficult) as well as the introduction of a beetle which can kill it off in 5 or so years.
A few minutes after leaving the Rupp Trail, the group stopped for morning snack break at a scenic rocky ledge looking down into a wash which bikers call "Christmas Wash", with distant views of Mescal Mountain and Capitol Butte. Then the Dogies turned right on the Dawa Trail, whose name is the Hopi word for sun symbol. After about a mile, Schermer turned right on the fifth segment of the lollipop, the Arizona Cypress Trail, named for the abundant trees along this section of the Dry Creek Wash. Right at noon, we stopped for an extended lunch break at an especially scenic and shady area by the wash. Shade continued to protect the group, as it made numerous crossings of the wash along the "Cypress Branch" route (so-named by former Trail Boss Sandy Unger) until re-joining the Girdner Trail, serving as the stem of our lollipop. Hikers made several stops to rest in the shade and re-hydrate.
Although this route is just off busy Dry Creek Road, it offers a quiet route with moderate elevation changes, attractive views, and a variety of vegetation. Earlier this season, Schermer led the Amblers on a shorter version, which followed a counter-clockwise route, and eliminated steep climbs. Originally developed by Schermer for the Mustang group this trail included a trip up the Cockscomb Rock feature.
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.