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Lizard Life Day Hike
February 29, 2020
by Mark Purcell
  GPS Map 
by Kevin C.
Group photo from Mark’s driveway. [photo by Sheila]
Billie, Kevin C, Neil, Li, Jane, Terry, Heather, Mark, Tom, Kevin E, Randall, Ralph

After a somewhat less than ideal mid-February weather day for the 2019 Chimney Mocha hike in approximately the same location, although a couple weeks later I was somewhat hesitant to schedule another in the same month. Fortunately, as my eleven hiking companions arrived, sunny skies and comfortably cool conditions awaited. After vehicles were shuttled to the terminus of this one-way hike, my lovely wife Sheila took a group photo from my driveway and we departed.

Are you ready to go? [photo by Tom]
They’re off, on the Lizard Head Trail. [photo by Sheila]

As we have an entry trail to USFS land just a block away, I have been blessed with the opportunity to explore a number of trails, mapped and otherwise, along with some bushwhacks onto more exotic destinations. Our first stop, only one mile in, was to climb several hundred feet to a saddle which is most frequented by cliff climbers and rappellers as where we were headed farther, means of ascent was straight up! Since we were now at a slightly higher elevations than the Airport Mesa, unobstructed views of the famous landmarks Courthouse, Bell Rock, and Cathedral were available.

A magnificent rock formation! [photo by Kevin]
I’m tellin’ you ... [photo by Kevin]
... and I say it’s this way. [photo by Tom]
I’ll take you up, up, up to the top. [photo by Tom]
It’s only a dead tree. [photo by Kevin]
The climb gets steep. [photo by Kevin]
The steepest part. [photo by Kevin]

From there we descended, and as we approached the second mile we finally reached the first official USFS trail of the trek—Thunder Mountain. Then, for roughly the next 1.5 miles, the group hiked first over the leisurely Andante Trail before a more rigorous ascent of the Chimney Rock Trail. However, instead of taking a left with farther ascent to Chimney Rock, we traversed a bit farther on its trail to take a right at the Lizard Head intersection.

All together now. [photo by Mark]
Billie, Jane, Li, Heather. [photo by Mark]
Neil, Ralph, Randall, Jane, Billie. [photo by Tom]
Li has a magnificent backdrop. [photo by Tom]
Terry and the red rocks. [photo by Tom]
This is red rock country! [photo by Mark]
What a view! [photo by Kevin]
Mmmm! Heather takes a whiff. [photo by Kevin]
Admiring the view. [photo by Mark]
Didn’t I say it would be steep? [photo by Mark]

As you enter Sedona from the south and look to your left, Lizard Head Rock is easily identifiable at the edge of the Thunder Mountain/Coffee Pot geological complex. Although climbing to the “head” was not on the agenda, Lizard Head Trail presents akin to the “tail” of its namesake as it snakes to the very edge of the sheer face and teases its way to a brief but steep turn, and for some, butt scraping to a more sane descent to Dry Creek Road.

Cafe Jose [photo by Mark]
Although perhaps it presents to be a complete hike already, as we cross Dry Creek Road to the Two Fences Trail we are only about half done. For the rest of our journey, we will be exploring a section of the 21 mlle Western Gateway system.

Although another hike in 2019 becarme acquainted with approximately eleven miles of this, for the most part, newly constructed or rerouted complex, our experience would repeat none of that. Somewhat more sedate than the first half, we still found ourselves going down then up washes quite frequently with, at gentle summits, periodic glimpses of the magnificence of several canyons in the vicinity, Doe and Bear Mountains, and the terrain towards Sycamore Canyon.

As we reached the end of the hike at the Girdner trailhead, my GPS read 9.6 miles and 1100 foot elevation change.

What a great group of hiking companions! All of us enjoyed a post-hike meal at perennial favorite Cafe Jose.

→   More pictures, by Kevin
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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated April 5, 2020