Approximately forty members of the Around the Bend Friends Hiking Club of Las Vegas took a road trip to Flagstaff, Arizona and Sedona, Arizona for a few hiking excursions. Jerry Thomas and Mike O'Connor report about two of the hikes below.
Tuesday - Airport Mesa Loop
The forecast for Tuesday was dire with an almost certain chance of rain
starting around 12pm. Chris decided to switch the hikes around so that
Mt Humphreys would be attempted on Wednesday and Tuesday would be the
day for hikes around the Sedona area. Two hikes were offered with Munds
Wagon Trail being the more strenuous and the Sedona Airport loop the
least strenuous. The author decided to go on the airport loop so that
more time could be allotted to shopping in Sedona. We held an
orientation meeting in the hotel lobby where Chris said that we should
all car pool down to Sedona and stop at the Oak Creek Visitor's Center.
He said at the time that the Visitor's Center was close to Slide Rock
State Park. Well, when we jumped in our cars and arrived in Sedona
(only 31 miles from our hotel in Flagstaff) several cars pulled into
Slide Rock State Park. The others drove down to where the Visitor's
Center was. Chris had to find the wayward hikers in the park and direct
them to the Visitor's Center.
We parted ways at the visitor's center where Chris went on to lead the
strenuous hike and Diane the not so strenuous Airport Loop hike. The
hike was uneventful and the views spectacular as the clouds continued to
build throughout the hike. By the time the hikers reached their cars at
the end of the hike, it had just begun to rain. It was about 11am. The
hikers on the more strenuous hike were not so lucky since they were
barely halfway through their hike when it started to rain. Although
some hikers were very wet all made it back to the hotel safely.
Wednesday - Mt. Humphreys Peak
On Wednesday the weather forecast was for a 40% chance of rain in the
afternoon. It was decided to leave early by 6:30am to increase the
chances that the Humphreys Peak hike could be completed before the rain
began. Ten hikers piled into vehicles and drove the 20 miles to the
Snowbowl Ski Area where the trailhead was. The hike coordinator
mentioned that there was a good chance that the group would break into
faster and slower hikers. He made sure that each had radios to
communicate with. We started up the trail through a large meadow which
appeared to be part of the ski slope and then through a dense forest
of large Aspens and conifers.
The trail had numerous exposed roots from the forest which eventually
would wear down the hiker's feet. We climbed up through the forest,
through large switchbacks and the tree roots on the trail gave way to
stones. The author's feet were already hurting. The fast hikers
reached the saddle on the ridge-line about 9:30am. They took a short
break and then proceeded up the ridge toward the summit.
The terrain had transitioned from dense forest to sparse forest to no
forest. The ridge was bare being above the tree line. The only living
plants appeared to be lichens. The earth had transitioned from moist
organic dirt to volcanic rock most probably basalt with some pumice also
apparent. The fast hikers reached the summit at 10:30am.
The weather had still held out
with only low clouds on the horizon. We took a 30 minute break and then
started back down. None of the rain that was in the forecast ever
materialized. We made it back down to the cars at about 1:30pm. We
were back at the hotel by 2:15 in time for a short nap. The slow hikers
were only an hour behind, had equally good weather and kept in touch
throughout the hike using the hand-held radios.