AB Young For the Old and Young – Everyone
October 23, 2015
by Michael McCaffrey
Remember these numbers: 8:00; 90; 9.8; 100; 33; 11; 2437; 7212; 5079.
“Walking takes longer…than any other form of locomotion except crawling. Thus it stretches time and prolongs life. Life is already too short to waste on speed.” Edward Abbey, Walking
When it comes to stretching time and prolonging life, there is no better trail than the A. B. Young Trail out of Oak Creek Canyon. This day, an early morning start ensured some cool temperatures on the tree shaded trail. But, quickly gave way to a sun drenched meander as trees disappeared and the hardy band of hikers were faced with the first of thirty-three switchbacks winding their way up the west face of Oak Creek Canyon. For a majority of the hikers this was the first foray on the trail after it was reopened following the Slide fire. The group was pleasantly surprised by the relative lack of the fire’s evidence - a few areas of charred trees only. This surprise was rapidly replaced with the seeming never ending task of making it up the switchbacks. But, with each turn the views down Oak Creek Canyon became more and more spectacular - to somewhat ease the pain of the effort. It called to mind at least one comment received by the U. S. Forest Service: “Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go up hill.” If only!
A break at the top (6700 ft) ensured that everyone was rested for the easy westward trek and 512 ft. gain to the East Pocket Lookout tower. This part of the trail was a true wonderland, a ponderosa pine and juniper wonderland. And if the views down the canyon were spectacular from the switchbacks, it was even more so from this stretch of the trail as the view was exquisitely framed by the pines. After the 1.25 mile hike to the tower a small break was taken as the ranger invited everyone up for chatting and viewing.
The hike resumed for another mile to the western edge of the plateau and a view of what was purportedly one of nature’s most magnificent masterpieces, the Secret Mountain Wilderness. Bear Sign, Secret, Long, Boynton, Fay Canyons filled the eyes as well as Wilson, Doe and Bear Mountains, Cockscomb and Sedona itself. What a glorious place!
“A trail is not a route from here to there. It is a place to reconnect. In building trails, we need to think about the trail experience. What does the trail look like? What does it feel like? What does it smell like, taste, and sound like? Does the experience challenge the mind? Challenge the body? Does it touch a chord that resonates the soul? A good trail will do that!” —ROBERT SEARNS, founding owner of Urban Edges, Inc., a planning and development firm based in Denver, CO., 2001
A view of Sedona and The Oak Creek Canyon from on top of the world
A special thanks to the hike leaders Mary McCaffrey, Michael McCaffrey, and Jim Warren and the tailgaters Marny Tibbets and Colleen Barcus for shepherding these hikers on such a “good trail”.
And what about those numbers mentioned at the beginning of the article?
- 8:00 am gathering;
- Hike was in 90 degree temperatures (but there was a nice breeze most of the time)
- Travelled 9.8 total miles
- A. B. Young is Trail #100
- 33 switchbacks to the upper west plateau
- 11 breaks along the way
- Total ascent was 2437 ft.
- The maximum elevation was 7212 ft.
- Elk pellets counted 5079