Before I went to Sedona, Arizona, a hiking buddy who had been there, told me to be sure and do the Schnebly Hill hike, and so I was delighted to find out that area was where my Road Scholar group ( www.RoadScholar.org ) was planning on spending the last full day of our six-day trip. What made it even better was that it was the only hike we took where I was able to get a photograph of those majestic red rocks, being reflected in a pool of water!
Our group followed the Mund's Wagon Trail, which was once a cattle trail, and meanders beside Schnebly Hill Road. Theodore Carlton Schnebly was the first post master of this area, and the town is named after his wife, Sedona Schnebly. Schnebly Hill Road used to be the main highway between Sedona and Flagstaff. It still serves as a connector road between Interstate 17 and Sedona. However, it is not paved, and one needs to be in a high clearance vehicle to safely travel over it.
This photo shows not a cattle herd, but a "hiker herd" making their way up the mountainside, through the cactus and manzanita.
The higher elevations gave us striking views of the Coconino National Forest and Red Rocks Country. I used what the locals call "mountain driftwood" (dried up manzanita bushes) as the foreground of the photo.
Just when we thought we could climb no further, our leaders urged us onward and upward to the "saddle" of the rock formations. As in all the hikes, I was "bringing up the rear", all the while snapping as many photographs as possible, without getting too far behind the group.
After we arrived at the saddle of the rock formations, three of us ladies decided we had quite enough climbing, and decided not to continue any further upward with the rest of the group. I asked them to give me a big "V" sign for victory, as they continued on up the steep rock formation.
The little specks of color you can see in the middle of this photo are the brave hikers that continued to scale the rock face.
I was quite content to stay at this lower elevation, and it gave an opportunity for Andrea and me to take photos of each other, using our respective cameras, with the canyon beneath and behind us.
Fortunately for us, the way to proceed on the sandstone bluffs was marked with white painted dashes, so we would not walk, by mistake, down into a difficult-to-negotiate ravine.
This photo of Andrea navigating along a narrow trail of the sandstone cliff, gives you an indication of the elevation change that we had already accomplished at that point.
Once we arrived at a lower elevation, we found ourselves hiking through a well-worn path, through groves of evergreen trees.
The conversation of we three ladies probably would have amused a bystander, as we discussed the trail marker that Lynn is pointing to in the upper left corner of this collage. The sign said "Equestrian Bypass". With my medical background, the first thing I thought of when I saw that sign, was a horse having heart surgery. But between Andrea, with her background in computer software/languages, and Lynn's background as a college professor with a Ph.D, we came to a consensus that the sign meant for those on a horse not to take the trail ahead---it was only suited for those of two feet, not four!
The nice thing about us three ladies not continuing to climb up the mountain, was that we had more time for photography and observation, on our return trip. Our leader had pointed out a type of mistletoe that grows in the desert (see left side of photo). What is interesting is to see the way that mistletoe has adapted to appear more like the evergreen tree that is its host (see right side of photo). I realized that desert mistletoe looks completely different from the mistletoe seen growing in the oak trees of the Ozark Mountains.
Lynn, Andrea, and I also came across two mountain bikers who were set up to do a photo shoot. The photographer (on right side of collage) was videotaping his biker friend (on left side of photo) as he jumped his bike over a small ravine. Amazingly, the biker made the jump without falling!
Besides going through evergreen forests, our trail (called Mund's Wagon Trail) followed a stream bed for an extensive distance.
I read one review of hiking this area that suggested hikers start out very early in the morning, and use the Schnebly Hill Road to go up the mountain, before the jeep traffic gets heavy. Then, when the popular dirt road is "jeep-infested", the hiker can use the adjacent Mund's Wagon Trail through the forest, to make the descent back to the starting point.
There is a less likely chance that a hiker could get lost on the Mund's Wagon Trail hike, because you are almost always within a few hundred yards of the well-traveled Schnebly Hill Road, even though the road is seldom visible from along the forest trail.
I like this photo because it illustrates to me, that sometimes a person just needs a helping hand to get them over a difficult spot in life.
When I was reviewing all the photographs I took on this particular hike, I spotted the undeniable outline of a cross on a distant rock formation. It reminded me of the Luke 19:40 verse from the Holy Bible where Jesus says, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." Seeing such a "sign from above" made me end this post about my experience along Schnebly Hill Road with "Miles of Smiles"! Tricia