Saturday, August 23, 2014

Humphrey's Peak (12,637') from Humphrey's Peak Trailhead

Humphrey's Peak: Highest Point in Arizona

Towering thousands of feet above a state known for its harsh deserts and inhospitable climate, Humphrey's Peak, the crown of the San Francisco Peaks stands as an island in the sky.  Its lower slopes are covered with thick aspen and pine forests, with meadows gracing the edges of the forests.  The peaks themselves are remnants of a blown volcano, which scientists tell us exploded 200,000 thousands years ago, and traces of that epic event are founds all along the trail, from the igneous rocks scattered among the trail, to the cinder cones in the surrounding terrain, to the blown caldera on the eastern side of the peaks, this land is littered with the echos of days past.  


Category: Strenuous 
Miles: 9.6   
Elevation Gain: 3350'
Location: Coconino National Forest, Kachina Peak Wilderness

The Hike:  From the newly paved parking lot, follow the trail through an almost gorgeous meadow, if it weren't for an enormous ski lift scrapping right through the middle.  Aside from that fact however, the meadow is purely picturesque, with wildflowers and green grasses around along stunning views of the high peak above and the dark aspen forest ahead.  Soon, you enter into that forest, littered with roots of the enormous colonies of aspen trees, quaking in the wind.  In about a mile, you are officially welcomed into the Kachina Peak Wilderness be another sign and a hiker registration box.  After filling in some basic info, you take the trail right, as it begins to switchback up the mountain side for a good 2.5 miles.  Observe how, very subtlety the forest begins transitioning from the main body to sub-alpine.  At 11,400' you are told camping is no longer permitted above that height and just a short 400' higher you reach treeline at the Agassiz Saddle at 11,800', where you are treated to a spectacular view into the caldera basin before you, and the Arizona Snowbowl Basin behind.  From the saddle you turn left and follow the trail up and around the mountainside.  At this point, good trail sense is needed as the route is currently being repaired in this section and large boulders hide the trail in many places.  The last mile up the the summit is completely above tree-line and exposed to the elements; not a good place to be during a thunderstorm.  Nonetheless, here on the rooftop of Arizona, there is a quiet peace and stillness which is remarkable; only broken by the occasional call of the raven.  You round and climb three false summits before attaining the true peak, but when you are there it is worth all the troubles of the trail.  To the north lies the Grand Canyon, and in every other direction, spectacular views- a true 'top of the world' experience.  Return the way you came, and be sure to be in the forest before the daily thunderstorms in the summer hit.  Laudatur Jesus Christus!  

Saint Bernard, Patron of Mountain Climbers, Pray for us!  

Hiked 8-20-2014- Coconino County Highpoint, Arizona State Highpoint.  
No  Wilderness Permit Required.              


The San Francisco Peaks

Wilderness Boundary

The Agassiz Saddle

The Interior Caldera

Mount Agassiz

The Summit

Do you see the Grand Canyon?

Hail begins at 12:05




Collection of Short Outdoor Adventures: Summer 2014

Upon arriving back from a wonderful trip across the Western USA, I have decided to share some half-day, short outdoor adventures with this blog: 

1. Rock Climbing- Sinks Canyon State Park, Lander, WY 
2. Pikes Peak (Highway, Summit, Garden of the Gods), Colorado Springs, CO
3. Petrified Forest National Park and The Painted Desert, AZ
4. The Grand Canyon (Mather Point and Desert View), AZ


1. Rock Climbing at Sinks Canyon State Park

Miles to Rock Climbing from Trailhead: 2 RT
Elevation Gain: 350'
Climbing Class: Class 5.5 (Yosemite Decimal System)
Closest Town: Lander, WY

Personally, I wasn't a big fan of rock climbing for the first time on Class 5 rock, but it was a good experience nonetheless.  I'll just share a couple pictures from this small hike to the base of the rock, and then my climb about 35' up the cliff.  

Popo Agie River


Bruce's Suspension Bridge

2. Pikes Peak (14,115'), Colorado Springs, CO

Ok, so I drove to the summit of America's Mountain, but that doesn't mean it doesn't count.... It was an amazing drive up there and the Garden of the Gods wasn't bad at all either.....

Pikes Peak from Colorado Springs
Garden of the Gods

Summit of Pikes Peak 

Cog Railway
Original Summit House

3. Painted Desert National Park

This is a fun place just of I-40 and it only takes about 2 hours to see most of the park.... enjoy...  if you have time hike from Tawa Point along the Painted Desert Rim over to the Classic Hotel.  It only about 1 mile.  

4. Grand Canyon National Park (Mather Point, and Desert View)

What can be said about the Grand Canyon? Perhaps God's most single inspiring place on earth...