A grrrreat weather dayIt all started to come together when I saw a request on Arizona Hikers by a guy from Ohio requesting others to join him on a hike to the top of Humphreys Peak. Perfect.
I had been thinking about this peak for some time as I had ambitions to climb all the western state highpoints and having done Whitney and Borah in 2005, Kings and Humphries were on my 2006 radar screen. As you can read in the thread (linked above)from Arizona Hikers, 13squared (Dennis) and I made plans to meet at the trailhead and do the climb on the 10th. I then mentioned to my wife that I had a potential partner for a peak in Arizona that I wanted to climb and that would fit well with a trip we were planning in May where I wanted to climb both Mt. Baldy and Mt. San Gorgonio near Los Angeles.
Making the long 2 day drive via Bend Oregon and hooking into I-5, my wife and I drove to Victorville by the second day where we spent an awful night in the KOA there (party time next door to us). Still sleepy from the poor nights sleep, we drove up to Manker Flats and I did Mt. Baldy on the 6th of May. We stayed at the campground at Manker Flats and enjoyed another long night of partying folks who didn't take into consideration the fact that there were lots of other campers trying to sleep. The next stop was a good motel in Redlands from where I went up the Vivian Creek trail to the
top of San Gorgonio on the 8th. That was as tough a climb as I've done but I'll get a trip report written to describe my experience on that one as soon as I can. From Redlands California, we made the long drive to Flagstaff via Phoenix and found a room in the Flagstaff Fairfield Inn. I met Dennis G. from Ohio at the trailhead early the next morning.
Dennis was easy to spot as he was the only person in the TH parking lot and he had slept up there during the night. His sleep had been interrupted a few times by party goers during the night but he was ready and eager to go. Gathering my gear, we were soon hiking up the trail that led underneath the chairlift as it headed to the forest and the Kachina Peaks Wilderness area sign on the other side of the ski area.
The trail was a nice grade but before long we encountered snow in the trees which slowed us down a bit in some places but once we hit the ridgeline, the snow on the trail aspect was left behind. The snow on the upper mountain was non factor for us as all of it was off the trail as mentioned. I noticed that neighboring Agassiz Peak had plenty left. It was interesting to see a ski lift extending all the way to over ten thousand feet on that mountain.
I must admit to slowing Dennis down although I thought it would be the other way around since he had come from flat land Ohio just the day before. My excuse was that my legs were pretty thrashed from my 13 1/2 hour ordeal two days earlier on Mt. San Gorgonio (think snow, lots of snow)and I was feeling the after affects of that effort. Dennis was a patient person and just adjusted to my pace and by the time we hit the summit ridge trail part, my legs kicked in and I was chomping at the bit to get to the summit.
We were blessed with perfect weather conditions and in reading others reports on the summit log section, the fact that we had just a gentle breeze really made the hike a joy. The trail had posts every so often that said "trail" on them and helped in steering us in the correct direction.
A hiker from Texas caught up with us not far from the summit and it was interesting to find out that he was from Texas (Houston) but he had been spending the winter as a ski instructor at Park City Utah. This was his first major mountain and he was loving it. Soon we were on the summit and the first thing I noticed was that the sign saying "Humphreys Peak" was missing. I had seen that sign in many summit pics but it was nowhere to be seen. A large wind break was located right atop the highest part of the peak and on windy days would be a good refuge. It looked large enough to allow a person to spend the night if so desired. The register was found in an ammo can and the register log was in good condition so we signed in. We took our summit pics, ate our summit snacks and made our summit phone calls. Well, at least I did. My wife always appreciates a call so she knows when to expect me back and that I am still in one piece.
The view from up there was tremendous, I would love to go back some day and do this one again just for the view. The grand canyon was visible despite some haze and I could identify some of the other peaks I could see such as Kendrick and Bill Williams. Again, no wind, just a breeze, what a perfect day to summit this peak.
Before long, we were making our way back down and began to pass others making their way up. One of those we met was a summitpost member and we had a nice chat before continuing down. All too soon, the hike was over with and it was time to head for home. I always hate it when the climb is over but on the other hand, I was already thinking about the next mountain that I wanted to climb and mentally began the planning.
Thanks to Dennis for a great day and my wife for cheering me on as I chase after the peaks of the west. As Bob Bolton says though, "So many mountains, so little time" I need to retire so I can do this fulltime.