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Sterling Pass Day Hike
November 1, 2020
by Quy Nguyen
  GPS Map 
by David French
Ready to hike! [photo by Quy]
Quy, Mark, Tom, Li, Kevin, David

The group of six hikers met at Basha’s in West Sedona to arrange carpooling to Sterling Pass Trailhead. The parking lot is limited to 6-7 cars and parallels 89A. When we got there around 8:00 AM, only two spots were left. Li decided to park a little farther away, so Mark, Tom, and Li walked up to the trailhead.

From the trailhead, we start hiking up, up on some switchbacks with loose gravel and rocks. The trail is very shady, with ponderosa pines, oak, and maple trees. The leaves of trees changing colors make the scenery more colorful.

It’s steep on the way up. [photo by Quy]
I can get under that log. [photo by Quy]

We climbed up to Sterling Pass after taking few breaks along the trail and descended into Sterling Canyon. Hiking down challenges us to manage through falling tress, by crawling under them or stepping up.

The trail takes a roundabout route through the forest. [photo by Quy]
Ah, the autumn leaves! [photo by Quy]

This path leads us to large slab of red rock with an overlook of Vultee Arch. I’ve been hiking this trail many times, but only to the ground of the Vultee Arch, and never hiking up to the arch itself.

I heard that we have to bushwhack. But Mark assured me that the trail is narrow and requires no bushwhacking. Dave decides to stay on the ground, taking pictures and enjoying amazing views. Five of us hike up, and only Tom and Li go out on the arch. I don’t know about Mark and Kevin, but I didn’t walk on the arch because heights scare me. The vista is worth for the climb up!

The fabulous five: Li, Mark, Kevin, Tom, Quy. [photo by Quy]
You mean we have to climb up there? [photo by Li]
The Vultee Arch. [photo by Quy]
Li and Tom atop the arch. [photo by Quy]
Tom on the Vultee Arch. [photo by Li]
Plaque commemorating Jerry and Sylvia Vultee. [photo by Nnn]

This trail is very popular in the autumn, so we encounter some hikers along the trail and up to the arch.

We hike back the same way we came, by careful footing, one step at a time. Slow and steady, all are back to trailhead, safe and sound.

These are rugged mountains. [photo by Dave]
The route down is scenic but steep. [photo by Quy]
Li, amid the bright leaves. [photo by Li]
Autumn leaves in bright colors. [photo by Quy]

Thanks to all for coming to join my hike. Happy Trails!

→   More pictures, by Quy
→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by Dave

Supplemental Report
by Li Li

Thank you, Quy, for leading this beautiful hike! The arch / bridge was a highlight. The canyon was beautiful and forest was pleasant. I enjoyed the climbing and the scenic hike very much! Thanks to Dave and Mark for taking and sharing the photos. Dave, you are not slow at all. I wish I could hike at your age. My legs hurt so much today that it is hard to walk.

Supplemental Report
by David French

My stats are: 6 miles, 1900 ft elev gain, 4910 to 6006 elevation range. 5:50 hours. Thanks Quy for leading this hike. It has been on my bucket list for a long time. Sorry to be so slow, but at least I made it and won’t have to do it again.

Supplemental Report
by Mark Purcell

OMG—Li admits that she was “that” sore. Frankly, I think many of you have bionic components, based on what you can endure on consecutive days.

Interestingly, I recall we met a group of people at the Arch intersection, and one of them is the manager of the gym I frequent and attended today (weight training—definitely did not require aerobics). Half of most of our ages, and he was complimentary that we did that reverse “V” we all completed.

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updated November 7, 2020