JonRoig.com | Posted: 2008-06-23 09:28:58 | 4220 hits | View in Hi-Fi Mode
Revenge! After being repelled from the summit of Humphreys Peak by cold and high winds last september, I've had my eye on the highest point in AZ. At 12,637 feet, it's a pretty significant climb -- a 10 mile trail with 3,300 feet of elevation gain, starting at 9,300'.
I didn't really try and kill myself up there pace-wise, but the dog 'n' I did it in about 5 hours: 2.5 up, parking lot to summit... then about 1.5 down. It was a perfect day!
With temps hitting 115 in The Valley, it was time to escape up to Flagstaff. I probably over packed for the trip, but up there, you really never know. I had a wool hat, gloves, a fleece jacket, a long sleeve technical shirt, 100 oz of water, a buncha gu and a couple of packs cliff shots. MMmmmmm... cliff shots.
We reached the trailhead at the parking lot of Snow Bowl at around 11:30 and immediately set off up the trail. It's a really neat climb -- it starts easy and gets progressively steeper and more intense, the higher you go. The effects of altitude are interesting... I definitely felt it and had to concentrate a bit on pacing myself, keeping a slow but steady pace.
The dog would have none of that. He was thrilled to be in the forest, chasing squirrels and gobbling down snow. Snow! In Arizona! In June! Mmmm.... snow.
So, you hike up and up through the pines and after awhile, you start to notice a change in the vegetation around you. Trees, they're not looking so robust now, more kinda gnarled and stunted. When you hit the saddle at around 12,000, that's it... no more trees.
That's where we got turned back last time. It was just too friggin' cold. This time, though, it was a perfect 55 degrees. We kept climbing...
The rest of climb is totally exposed, just basically climbing around rocks. Nothing too technical, but at that altitude I was feeling a little clumsy. Nothing serious, just a little kinda off. Anyway, we made quick work of it and reached the summit right before 2:00 pm.
The view is remarkable, of course. Turns out I didn't need any of the cold weather stuff at all, but that's the type of situation where it pays to be prepared. The weather up there can change quickly and be somewhat unpredictable, and I didn't really wanna take any chances. I didn't hang out for long -- took some pictures, chatted a bit with a bunch of the other dudes hanging out up there, gobbled down my cliff shots, made sure the dog was good and hydrated, and began my descent.
I made quick work of the downhill. I didn't run straight down from the summit... that just seemed like it could easily go horribly wrong... but once I made it into the forest, the dog 'n' I just kinda took off running. The temps warmed as we made our way down, but it was still pretty nice and the trail was a nice change of terrain than the hard desert we've been dealing with at Camelback and whatnot.
Ran into a couple of other Zane Grey people up there. Gotta reprazent with the shirt, I guess.
We both arrived back at the car pretty exhausted at about 3:30. Just a really fun hike / run. Gus slept all the way home... awwwww....
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