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Scorpion-Pyramid Day Hike
April 30, 2016
by Mark Purcell
  GPS Map 
by Jim Buyens
Jim, Gary, Laurie, Becky, Joe, Eileen, Darrell, Christine, Mark. [photo by Mark]

When scheduled, minor trepidation ensues as I know that climate at this time of year in usually sunny Sedona can spike into the upper 80s, which, on fully exposed trails, makes for perspiration-soaked attire. Fully a week before the date of the hike, I was looking at the weather forecast for April 30. Although the temps ultimately would be tolerable, as the week progressed the precipitation probability inched upwards from 30% to 60% on the eve of the event. But, with the greatest chance predicted for the afternoon and knowing the typical Arizona Trailblazer would be prepared for adverse conditions, the decision was made to proceed.

As the Scorpion and Pyramid trails were just opened earlier in the year and are not included on even recently published commercial trail maps, I was not expecting much pedestrian traffic. As I waited at the Scorpion Trailhead for the appearance of the Phoenix Trailblazer carpool, momentarily I thought my Valley organizer Jim Buyens had performed a magnificent job of recruiting both participants and transportation as two white 10-15 passenger vans rolled up. As the occupants disembarked, I realized this was another organization who perhaps would contest for passage when we would assuredly encounter them later in the day.

Soon after, my group of eight appeared. After a photo, off we went a short distance to the Old Post Trailhead and proceeded up Old Post to the junction of the Herkenham Trail. With the weather staying cool but dry, I polled my companions about perhaps elongating the route a bit by staying on Old Post to the junction of a third new trail (Skywalker). All were in agreement, so we did indeed pursue that strategy which resulted in a brief but sharp ascent on Old Post with a transfer to a twisty trek on Skywalker.

All right. Let’s check out this new trail. [photo by Jim]
We’re going this way, folks. [photo by Jim]

As Skywalker terminated at the high school (roughly at the halfway point), we prepared to cross Upper Red Rock Loop Road to the Scheurman Mountain Trailhead. Delaying our progress were the approach of those two white transport vehicles noted earlier in this report already exiting the trail area — apparently they were not quite as ambitious as us.

After a break at Scheurman, we proceeded down the new Scorpion trail. With a gentle descent and notable views encompassing much of the beauty of Sedona from Thunder Mountain all the way to Bell Rock, this trail is certain to be more popular as its presence becomes better established. At the junction of Pyramid, most of our contingent continued onto this loop segment. From its west side, the views of its namesake do indicate a nondescript triangular hill. As the trail continues, a saddle reveals an overlook into the Verde Valley. As we start down again we have an unexpected close encounter over several hundred feet of sheer red rock formations. Towards the summit, dozens of ravens were engaged in their courting ritual of close-quarter aerobatics — chases, dives, and rolls.

We can see Sedona’s famous red rock formations from the trail. [photo by Eileen]
You see, it’s like this. [photo by Jim]
Becky admires the red rock scenery. [photo by Jim]
Laurie and Christina know the way. [photo by Jim]
p01 p06
Spring flowers brighten our passage. [photos by Mark and Eileen]
We’re on the down grade now. [photo by Mark]
Eileen makes the most of it. [photo by Eileen]
The trail takes us along some perilous slopes. [photo by Eileen]
A bend in the trail, just below the pass. [photo by Becky]

Backing up a bit to the Pyramid saddle, I had noticed indications of precipitation moving our way from the south. Sure enough, about 3/4 mile from our vehicles the first drops of rain sprinkled. Would we complete the journey dry or soaked? Fortunately, the rate of precipitation never escalated past the minimal stage as we reached our cars during the noon hour.

Due to previous commitments, roughly half of our contingent returned to Phoenix while the remainder headed on to Sedona’s Nick’s on the West Side for a post-hike meal. Soon after we were seated, and perhaps roughly 30 minutes after we finished the Pyramid trail, thunder boomed and the skies opened up with heavy rain. So, I suppose you can consider this an endorsement of the predictive capabilities of the National Weather Service.

In summary, it was a great hike with enthusiastic fellow Trailblazer adventurers. Thanks to Jim for organizing the posse in Phoenix.

Supplemental Report
by Jim Buyens

Hi, everyone, it was great being with you all on last Saturday’s hike. I had a great time and I hope you did too. And Mark, thanks especially for finding these brand new trails and for a great job leading the hike.


Hike Statistics
Total Distance:6.2miles
Starting Time:8:38AM
Moving Time:2:37hrs:min
Stopped Time:1:03hrs:min
Finishing Time:12:18PM
Avg. Speed Moving:2.4mph
Avg. Speed Overall:1.7mph
Starting Elevation:4,074ft
Minimum Elevation:4,004ft
Maximum Elevation:4,576ft
Total Ascent:950ft
Starting Temperature:55°
Finishing Temperature:60°
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated May 18, 2016