A New Season for the Sedona Westerners and a New Trail Boss

September 11, 2015


by Michael McCaffrey

What do Marge Herkenham, Olga Ostrom, Louise Gelotte, Liz Sweeney, Marion Hadji-Agha and Mary McCaffrey all have in common? These six women share a unique position in the hierarchy of the Sedona Westerners - they have all been president of the 54 year old club, or in club parlance, Trail Boss.

Mary McCaffrey, the latest addition to this exclusive group of women, is the lucky, current Trail Boss. “Just being a participant in the Sedona Westerners has been one of the gifts of living in our beautiful community. Serving on the Board layers a level of commitment that adds to the joy. When our members hike on Sedona’s trails we have a true feeling of personal ownership and being one of the 30 members of the Board makes it all just a little dearer to our hearts.”

Mary, a baby boomer, grew up in small town Minnesota in the loving arms of 13 sets of aunts and uncles and all the cousins that provided. In those pre Title IX days small town life was fishing and swimming in the lakes, playing in the surrounding woods, and drag racing on the gravel roads in 8 cylinder cars a foolish but, generally protected and uncomplicated existence.

Mary studied Persian at the University of Minnesota before transferring to the University of California, Irvine where she completed her Bachelor’s degree in Criminology. The Illinois Department of Corrections started her career as a prison counselor where she learned to manage incorrigible personalities, a skill that has already been an asset in her position as “Boss”. Corrections taught her confidence and like most of the 53 prior trail bosses, Mary knows how to flaunt her confident tenacity.

Mary McCaffrey - Trail Boss

An easy question is always, “Where did you meet your spouse?” In the case of the McCaffrey’s it was in a Jacuzzi in southern California, which seems to be all the information necessary for this article. Mary’s husband Michael introduced her to hiking and backpacking - their first visit to Arizona together was a 5 day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon. What better introduction to our beautiful state? In 2004 they took a week’s vacation to Sedona for the first time and knew within a few days they would retire here; in 2007 they moved to West Sedona.

A little known fact about Mary that has amused her husband for 35 years is that she was and is a true connoisseur of the Norwegian delicacy, lutefisk. She still recalls the wonderful aromas wafting through town whenever those lutefisk feeds occurred. It’s a Minnesota thing.

This Trail Boss wears a few other hats: she is a personal trainer, teaches a Pilates Mat class twice a week, and plays the clarinet in the Cottonwood Community Band, joining three other Westerners every Monday evening.

The sweetest love of her life (and Michael’s) is their two year old granddaughter, Nora. She lives in California with her parents and frequent visits are routine. What would we do without frequent flier programs?

There are so many worthy organizations in Sedona and most of us are busy with a variety. Why would anyone want the job of Trail Boss? A love of the outdoors and hiking, a little less love of the perfectly kept home (no time), the desire to share the experience and aid newcomers in their quest to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Deconditioned and Sedona Westerners are not synonymous terms - we love being strong and healthy, we embrace the physical and mental challenges and we welcome the opportunity to interact with like-minded folks.

Mary invites all those who have been thinking about joining to just do it.



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