Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

April 18, 2014

Loy Canyon


by Mary McCaffrey

“The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life.” -Ellen Burns Sherman

Hike with the Sedona Westerners for a season or two and you will be nodding in agreement with Ellen Burns Sherman. So many of us are transplants from other parts of the world, living overly civilized lives, hectic lives, what we perceived to be important lives.  Waking up every day to look at the red rocks, going out to challenge our muscles and cardio vascular systems on the trails reminds us that we have found our paradise and that paradise was missing from our former lives.  How fortunate that we, citizens of Sedona, now get what we needed in our former lives - that great background of forest wilderness in a near pure setting.

Photo courtesy of Alan Gore.

Locals know how much we have yearned for moisture this year so you’ll easily remember a recent Wednesday evening that had frozen crystals attacking our windows around 9:30.  The following morning had all the Mustangs (the Thursday hikers) in high spirits as we set off down the Loy Canyon trail.  We oohed and aahed to the clicks of cameras capturing the snowy dustings on trees, shrubbery and grasses.  Snow angeling was suggested in jest; no one wanted to disturb the wonder we knew would be fleeting as the sun warmed the canyon floor.

The Loy hike begins with an easy meander down the canyon trail, past ranch land that reminds us that we live where once large working ranches and orchards were.  After a few short miles we head north upwards to an overlook that gives us great views of the canyon left behind.  Knowing that the Mustangs will be hiking the Grandview Trail at Grand Canyon for our final hike of the season at month’s end reminds us why we are climbing up for a quick viewpoint and back down to travel farther down the canyon to repeat ourselves on the other side of the gorge. The season is drawing to a close and we are looking for challenges that prepare us for the season end Grand Finale. Loy Canyon doesn’t disappoint as we follow the trail up to a favorite saddle that ends on a lovely promontory where we can perch comfortably for lunch as we congratulate ourselves on a morning well-traveled.

Homemade ginger snaps are handed out as we finish our own eclectic mix of lunches to begin the final leg of our day’s adventure.  Another 90 minutes to finish our day, the snow has dissolved into damp branches that refresh us as we push the new growth out of our way.  This is Arizona - manzanita and scrub oak, cat claw and grasses appear to grow inches every day.  We easily snap wet branches past us that attack our friends following close behind.  Hikers watch out for each other and you often hear “low branch”, “slippery rocks”, “be careful”.  This all comes as a result of being with people who care about you, who have become your friends.  

What about that cactus in the snow?  The Loy Canyon hike was scheduled for early April to capture the glory of our hedgehog cactus - the brilliant red cups in the low lying cactus bunches often hide from us.  Everyone loves to get a finder’s fee of exclamations of “wow, beautiful”, “good eye”, “get a picture of this one”.  We were not cheated on this Thursday hike - we got it all: good friends, great conversation, lovely vistas, pure white snow and bloom bursting hedgehogs.  What more could a Sedonan ask for?

If you are interested in joining the club, go to our website or come to one of our monthly meetings. The next and final meeting will be May 1st, our spring cookout, at 11:00 A.M. at the Sedona Elks Lodge, 110 Airport Road.