The Rustlers Hike Harding Springs

December 4, 2015

Perlina McCombs
by Perlina McCombs

The Rustlers is the newest group to join the Sedona Westerners. The Rustlers will be hiking every Saturday and will be hiking at a moderate speed for 3 to 4 hours each hike with a snack break half way through the hike. Velma Keller and Donna Bell are the new hike bosses.

On October 10 the Rustlers met at Posse Grounds for their first hike and car pooled to Cave Springs Campgrounds, which is 11 miles up Oak Creek Canyon from Sedona. After a little history lesson about OP Harding, Linda Warren and I lead the hikers up the Harding trail, which is 900 elevation gain, 0.8 miles and many switchbacks through the pine and spruce trees. We enjoyed the view from the overlook looking down over 89A and across the way is the rock formation of a baby buggy. The hike is around 5 miles long and this is just right to keep the hike to 3 1/2 hours.

The Sedona Westerners Newest Hike Bosses Donna Bell And Velma Henry

How far will we be able to hike at age 76? In 1910, the Flagstaff newspaper said O.P. Harding, at the age of 76, walked from Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff. Harding came from Flagstaff in 1884 and worked in construction. In 1889 he and his wife moved to Oak Creek Canyon to homestead and plant hundreds of fruit trees in an orchard by Oak Creek River. If you look close, you can still see apple trees where we parked our cars. Harding brought the fruit to Flagstaff using this trail we hiked on. Harding died in 1915 or thereabouts. He was a member of the Mason Lodge and the Masons acquired his place and sold it to George Babbitt Sr. It was learned OP Harding had been a distinguished Union General in the Civil War, a fact that he kept during his life in Arizona.

The hikers hiked over to the springs, where they found only puddles of water. They then proceeded on over to the mouth of Cookstove trail, which runs down to 89 A. They took a break at Cookstove and Linda Warren shared with us her delicious brownies, just what they needed to have energy to finish the hike.

On returning from Cookstove to the Harding Springs trail, I just wanted to make sure the tailgaters were paying attention. So, the tailgaters, Jim Warren and Al Abott, became the leaders and Linda Warren and I became tailgaters. They did a great job leading the way down the sometimes rocky trail.

Before they dispersed at the end of the hike, the hikers all commented on a good time citing the great views, great treats and good conversation with friends.


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