It was a sunny pleasant Thursday morning when members of the Sedona Westerners Hiking Club gathered at the Posse Grounds parking lot. Thursday mornings are “Mustang” hikes, one of six groups that have various hiking objectives and hike on different days of the week.
The first order of business for all hikes is a review of the rules. For example, all hikers must be club members, cell phones should be turned off and all must have proper hiking shoes (no flip flops allowed). On March 13, we first met at Posse Grounds parking lot and then car-pooled to the Long Canyon Trailhead just off Dry Creek Road. Drivers are compensated for gas by their passengers, a nice touch if you are getting 9 mpg. When hiking in designated “wilderness” areas (most hikes fall into this category) the Westerners follow Forest Service protocol and limit each group to no larger than 12 hikers. So our group was divided into two groups. Group 1 lead by Charlie Schudson, a veteran wilderness explorer and Group 2 lead by A. J. Cook, more of a Hilton/Marriott guy.
We launched towards the well-known “Devils Bridge” formation. This is a great route with spectacular views and typical Sedona vegetation. For most of this hike the difficulty was quite moderate. Just the last 20 minute approach to the “bridge” involves steeper climbing and some scrambling. We encountered many signs of spring vegetation including Manzanita bushes in bloom and even an occasional “Paint Brush” wildflower. As we approached the “bridge”, we encountered many tourists visiting Sedona for spring break. We could almost read their lips, “Isn’t it wonderful that those older people can get out and enjoy the outdoors?” Little do they know that most Westerners can out hike most visitors. Spring is here!
“Devil’s Bridge” is a fabulous arch formation. The main trail leads directly to the top of the “bridge” where one can walk across for a great photo opportunity, if you are not afraid of heights. There is also a short path that leads to an area below the “bridge” with a great view of the cracks and fusions that one day may cause a collapse. Future name: “Devil’s Rock Pile”.
Sometimes our hikes involve routes and destinations that are less known, not included in common hiking books. That was the case with the second half our of Thursday hike. The scenery was just a fabulous as the route to “Devil’s Bridge” minus the visiting tourists.
Our hike which began at 9:00 AM was completed before 2:00 PM. Everyone was smiling; no one got lost and no one got hurt. Injuries are possible on hikes (it is not like strolling down a sidewalk), but our group was pain-free.
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 Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7 pm at the Sedona Elks Club, 110 Airport Road.