Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

September 13, 2013

Mingus Mountain Hike

 


by Mark Ducharme

The Westerners kicked off their 2013/2014 season with a Dogies hike on Mingus Mountain. The group drove through Jerome, parking near the mountain summit, and began the hike at an elevation of 7600 feet. The hike leader was David Nelson and the tailgater was Jim Warren. In a reversal of most of our hikes this one began at the top, dropped down, and climbed up at the end.

We began by heading down the eastern flank of the mountain via a series of switchbacks. There were clear views of basalt cliffs and columns above, the communication towers on the summit and panoramic views over the Verde Valley. Since the humidity was quite high, the views were somewhat hazy. A pleasant surprise was that, due to the recent monsoons, the area was full of wild flowers blooming in a plethora of colors. For pinks there were geraniums and cosmos, for reds there were paint brush and penstemon; for blues/purples there were aster and spiderwort; for yellows various sunflowers and dogweed. We also saw two extremely large hedgehog cactus which would be quite a sight when they bloom in the spring.

The trail began to level off and traverse to the north side on the mountain. The views changed completely and we were able to see over the Mogollon Rim all the way to Humphrey Peak and beyond. We also had good views of Jerome from above, easily able to pick out the mining museum and the Asylum Restaurant. For a time the trail wound gradually up and down with rapidly changing vegetation: ponderosa pine groves (with greatly appreciated shade), grasslands, scrub oak, and cactus. After a snack break at the low point of the trip (6600 feet), we began the climb uphill via a series of moderately steep switchbacks to reach the ponderosa pine forest at the top. On the way up we spotted one of the largest horned toads any of us had ever seen.

We passed 2 launch sites: one for hang gliders and the other for parasailing. There had been a meet there over the weekend, so there was little activity going on now. The wind was very light and we saw only a single hang glider. This was the highest point on our trip with a plaque indicating an elevation of 7814 feet. From here it was a gentle downhill trek via a dirt road to our parked cars. The recent monsoon activity had left the area saturated with flowing water.

The total hike measured 5 miles in length, with an elevation gain of 1200 feet and a cumulative elevation gain of 1500 feet. It was a great start to the new hiking season.

The Westerners always welcome new members. If you are interested in joining the club, log onto our website: www.sedonawesterners.org. You may also join by attending a monthly meeting, our next one will be on Thursday, November 14th at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road, Sedona.