Sedona Westerners in the Red Rock News

December 19, 2014

The Virtual Holiday Hike


by Michael McCaffrey

In an unprecedented show of support, 163 Westerners of all ilk’s: Amblers, Dogies, Drovers, Mustangs, Rough Riders, Scouts, Honorary Members and Guests gathered at the St John Vianney trailhead for the annual Christmas Virtual Hike.

Although hikes in these numbers are a rarity, in the late 70’s and early 80’s, gatherings of 100 or more occurred 4 times, while hordes of 90 assaulted the trails 6 times. Can you imagine!

When the club was first formed in the early 60’s it was portrayed as a social club. Today, this decades old tradition is still maintained, as the first order of business for this virtual hike was initiated by our Leader and current Trail Boss, Curt Kommer. All 160+ attendees dove into the Social Hour and shared stories of past hikes and even hinted at future forays. Of course, this socializing was ably tailgated by Perlina McCombs. If conversations were measured in decibels, this would have been at the top of the scale, vibrating the walls of St. John Vianney. This was one of the rare instances when the age of the group surpassed the age of the surroundings travelled in. The Sedona Westerners as a group is 54 years old while St John Vianney wasn’t established until 1965 making it 49 years old.

Food certainly plays a major part of most Westerner gatherings and this virtual hike was no exception. Again, keeping with tradition and the rules for hiking, each hiker is enjoined to bring a lunch and snack on all hikes. Since this was an early evening foray, half of the hikers brought appetizers and half brought desserts. Our feast was a showcase for our superb chefs and dessert aficionados.

One nice thing about virtual hikes is almost anything goes. What better way to engage a bunch of antsy hikers (even virtual ones) than a raffle of items from the Sedona community. Local businesses donated everything from hiking poles, gift certificates for dinners, massages, bird feeders, pizzas, gift cards for movies, hiking equipment, etc. Kicking off the raffle portion of the trek was a stirring rendition of a 1982 classic, “Westerners Theme: A Hiking Song”, lyrics by Len Silvern and music by Harry Allaire. A Herder and a Brander kept the folks on the edges of their seats as names were drawn for each of the raffle prizes.

And as the foot weary, seat of the pants tired hikers finished up this year’s virtual hike, Sedona’s oldest community chorus, The Canyon Singers, provided a beautiful selection of Holiday music, including “I Remember December”, “Still, Still, Still”, and “Mele Kalikimaka”.

One of the last hiking rules, “Leave No Trace”, was efficiently executed by all Westerners and their guests as euphorbia pulcherrima were quietly packaged, tables cleaned, garbage removed leaving only the wish for a happy, holiday season for all our family, friends and neighbors.