Grand Views and Old Mines
On October 24, Sedona Westerners took on their toughest annual challenge, the Grandview Trail on the Grand Canyon's South Rim not far from the Desert View watchtower. With Kevin O'Connor leading and Al Abbott tailgating, the party started down the first, steepest pitch soon after 9 am after admiring the eastern section of the Canyon steeped in early morning light.
The first thousand feet took the party in short switchbacks down the vertical drop off to Coconino Saddle. This was a logical rest stop and an opportunity to peel off that early-morning layer of warm clothing before heading out onto Horseshoe Mesa. Just above the saddle they encountered their first stretch of cobble corduroy, a trail surface made of stones close-laid to form a steep roadway strong enough to support strings of ore–laden mules. This was the original Berry Trail, built by nineteenth-century copper miners.
On the gentler slope out onto the Mesa, the hikers had to climb over a series of huge rockfalls covering the original trail. At each of these places, the Grand Canyon's army of busy feet has pioneered a new section of trail across the scree. As lunchtime approached, the trail leveled out in sandy gravel across Horseshoe Mesa. They passed the Last Chance Mine, Pete Berry's copper diggings. All that's left of it today is a few crumbling mine tunnels leading into the side of the mesa, now gated off so bats can nest there undisturbed. The recent discovery of radon gas in the tunnels has prompted the Parks Service to post the whole mine area as radioactive, which  is ideal for the peace and quiet of those bats.
Just after the mine on the trail our Westerners came to a roofless stone building, the miners' kitchen. They didn't stay long, because in the short days of late October they needed to get to the magnificent view point at the end of the mesa by lunchtime. They reached the slender point in good time to enjoy the food they had brought and share cookies and chocolate as they admired the vista of the inner Canyon as seen from inside it, including one small segment of the Colorado River itself,
From there the group retraced the four and a half miles to the starting point. Most hikes out there in the wild start up a gentle slope, which gets steeper as the day progresses, ending in a final steep climb before lunch at the midpoint. Grand Canyon hiking follows the same profile, but starting at the steep terminus. This means that the hardest part of the hike comes near the end. On the Grandview, that was that thousand feet of vertical approaching the Rim. Knowing this, the leader arranged the climb out so that each hiker could stick to a personal pace. By 3 pm the hikers were emerging, each with a host of memories.
Sedona Westerners always welcomes new members. If you are interested in joining the club, please go to our website at http://sedonawesterners.org or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.