Hang on Snoopy! The Drovers are coming!
Determining that Snoopy needed a good belly rub, the Sedona Westerners Drover hiking group set out on a recent Sunday afternoon to give him one.
Easily visible from Uptown or the approach to Sedona via Highway 179, Snoopy Rock seems to capture the lovable canine in his most famous pose, recumbent on the doghouse. The main trail to Snoopy branches off the Marg's Draw trail and can be reached from the Huckaby or Broken Arrow trailheads, or from the end of Sombart Lane, which is the shortest and most direct. Either way, the route quickly enters the Munds Mountain Wilderness, providing beautiful red rock views to the east as the town recedes to the west.
There were two groups, led by John and Debby Losse, and the hikers approached the base of the Snoopy formation via a gentle slope of scrub and manzanita, the latter showing new white flowers which would become red berries later on. They then took a route which skirted the base along a slickrock shelf which, being above the vegetation, gave great views of the entire Marg's Draw drainage, all the way out to Submarine Rock and Chicken Point.
Rated as a "moderate" hike in difficulty, the elevation change from the trailhead to Snoopy itself is about 600 feet and is gained mostly in the final half mile. Here the trail switches back and forth in sections with a fair amount of loose rock, due partly to the popularity of route. Occasional ocotillo branches crossed like swords over the trail. At this time of day the route was also in full sun, so the progress was steady but slow, and lots of water was taken.
Upon reaching the ridge, the hikers first went to a saddle just to the east of Snoopy itself, where, after views consisting mostly of the hiker in front, a broad panorama of Uptown Sedona was spread out below. From here, those who wished to "pat Snoopy's belly" went around to do just that. Fellow hikers Brad Bell, Tom Makielski and Jim Kemper and Doug Reinika assisted in this, the only part of the hike requiring some hand-over-hand, "can't see where my feet are" climbing.
Coming down from the ridge took as long as going up because of the loose rock. Once down, the groups continued out along another redrock shelf skirting the much-photographed Crimson Cliffs at the head of Marg's Draw, and it seemed about time for a snack. In addition to what the hikers had brought for their personal use, there were fresh-baked molasses cookies supplied by the leaders.
The total distance for this particular route was only 3 miles, which is shorter than most Drover hikes, but the appeal of Snoopy is undeniable. Charles Schulz is supposed to have said that the best idea he ever had in Peanuts was to move Snoopy from inside the doghouse to the rooftop, and we're glad he did!
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 and last meeting of this season is April 11th , 2013 7:00 PM, at the Jewish Community of Sedona and the Verde Valley, 100 Meadowlark Drive, Sedona.