Many Knolls Noel Hike

December 31, 2021

By Dr. Kelly-Leigh Thomas

These little guys like to hang around the Red Rocks. Although they can be elusive, the group saw several on this hike. We also found a geocache!

The Dogies Many Knolls hike, mid-December, had a few new knolls and not! Keep reading! 

Although the weather was to change from cool and sunny to windy and rainy, the Dogies got their 4 ½ hour hike done without anything but delightful skies. Sedona Westerner’s hike leader, Jim Kemper, organized our group at the Transept Trailhead parking lot where all hikers signed in. This is a good technique for keeping track of participants on the hike and helps the Tailgater identify if anyone has gone astray.

The Transept Trail is located off Verde Valley School Road and is less travelled compared to many other local trails in the Village of Oak Creek. It boasts beautiful knolls, hoodoos, slick rock, washes, pour offs and forests.

Some of the fun of a hike is identifying hoodoos or land formations [knolls] and imaging a name for them. An enticing challenge on this hike was to try to keep an accurate count of the knolls that we passed on our journey in hopes of getting a reward! Sometimes the memorable part of a hike is a geological feature, other times it’s a botanical or wildlife treasure.

We had many opportunities along the way to see interesting sites. We were all looking for the canyon tree frog as it had been seen on a pre-hike by our Leader and Co-leader. This cute little grey nocturnal amphibian lives in rocky habitats. While they prefer to be near water, these carnivores will take refuge in rock crevices. On the pre-hike, one jumped across my path at the level of my shoulder! I was able to make a good video of this delightful frog for my grandkids, not a common sight in our area of Sedona.

The next nature finding was less pleasing to some hikers, the half-eaten carcass of a female mule deer. In our area, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions have mule deer in their diets. The life of these cousins to the white-tailed deer are at risk from all of the above and sadly, cars as well. Some deer seem fairly habituated and not the least bit frightened of hikers. On December 3rd I had a stare down with one female and we both stopped in our tracks. She got bored of me filming her and lay down and went to sleep…

Climbing up our Many Knolls led us to a sunny lunch spot with good views of the area. We enjoyed swapping stories and discussing plans for the holiday season. It’s been a long haul getting through the Covid-19 and its variants. Hiking seems to offer the perfect balance, good 

exercise in the fresh air and being able to maintain a safe distance!

After lunch, we headed off to finish the last of the knolls and make our way back to the parking area. The leader and co-leader switched positions for the balance of the hike. That was working well until we missed a knoll! The co-leader tried to make up for that by showing the group an oddity that she had found on a previous hike, a plastic box, containing a geo-cache, just off the trail. It had fallen apart with the desert heat and along with other talismans inside a “sign in” book was visible. The last entry read “Leave No Trace--the cardinal hiking rule”, and was dated December 3, 2021.

Enroute to our cars, we debated the number of knolls we’d been to and the prize for getting this correct. Well, it turns out the Co-leader did guess the correct number and her prize was ……writing this article!  

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