Dogies Explore the Pyramid and Polygons
The Sedona Westerner’s often hike well-known trails in the greater Sedona area, but sometimes they explore less well-known and infrequently -hiked regions. Many of these “trails” do not even have names. Such was the case recently when the Dogie group hiked the red rock cliffs off of Upper Red Rock Loop Road.
It was a crisp and bright December morning when the seventeen hikers took off from the parking area. But the weather forecast was ominous, with a big storm coming in later that night and gusty winds predicted for that day. Nevertheless, the group wanted to get a good hike in before the storm hit.
The first one-third of a mile went pretty much straight up the formation known as the Pyramid. This mountain can be easily viewed from the Airport mesa towards the southwest with its rather classical pyramid shape. Once reaching the top of the peak, there were huge limestone blocks capping the top, as well as the crumbled remains of early native American structures, most likely lookouts. Perfect and spectacular views of the lower Oak Creek drainage south of Red Rock Crossing were enjoyed by all.
The two hiking groups were led by Jim Warren and Mark Ducharme, with David Nelson and Liz Sweeney tailgating. Descending the pyramid and hiking along the saddle leading up to the base of Schuerman Mountain near the high school, the hikers followed a mostly level and very spectacular route along the east side of Schuerman, heading south. Schuerman is capped with a thin visible layer of gray basalt on top. The trail ended in a large level, grassy area where the groups took a scenic break.
After returning to the saddle between the Pyramid and Schuerman, the hikers began to climb a narrow ridge, which had some more great views all around. They approached the area known for its polygons. These are light-colored, six-sided formations laid down in the red sandstone and no one quite knows how they formed. Most likely the pattern forms from the drying out of the sandstone deposits in a specific crystalline structure based on the chemical composition of the rock. They form a dramatic pattern when viewed from above and are found in many places in that area. A relaxing lunch break allowed the hikers to enjoy the warmth of the winter sun and note the huge number of ocotillo plants thriving on the south-facing slopes.
The groups descended from the ridge through some huge hoodoos and followed a trail along the base of the Pyramid, pausing frequently to admire the occasional ocotillo blooming and looking up at the dramatic cliffs above.
As the hikers returned to the parking lot, everyone marveled at how lucky they were to be in such a special and unique environment as this. Total mileage for this hike was about 4.2 miles with about 900 feet cumulative elevation change. And during this four-hour hike, we saw absolutely no other hikers! That solitude truly made this hike special. And, of course, the marvelous December weather.
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, Jan 9, 2014 at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.