Among the Madding Crowd

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer

Among the Madding Crowd

I got rained out on my day to climb Humphrey's in September 2013, so when I made plans for another attempt I built two days into my schedule in hopes that one of them would have favorable weather.  It looked like a smart move when I got to Flagstaff.  September 18, my first day in the area, was expected to be rainy, while September 19 was forecast to be sunny.  I went to sleep in my motel that night, thinking I'd just piddle around town the next day and summit the following day.  (Note:  September probably isn't the best month to climb Humphrey's since this is monsoon season in Arizona and rains can be frequent.)

I slept in late the next morning, but turned on the Weather Channel when I got up just to see if the forecast was holding.  Surprise!  Conditions had changed and September 18 was going to be the sunny day.  So I quickly gathered my gear and sped out to the trail head.  There already were several cars in the parking area when I arrived around 9:00 AM.  I was worried by my late start, since there was still a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast and I could see clouds settling around the 10,000 foot level.  I set off with a prayer to the weather gods.

The trail climbed steadily, but I found it easy going to the saddle.  I passed a few hikers on my way up, which surprised me.  I'm rarely the fastest guy on the trail.  I got the sense that Humphrey's attracts a lot of people who don't usually frequent wilderness areas.  How else to account for the numerous dogs off leash, the guy tossing rocks down the hill just to hear the noise, and the guy with the boom box strapped to his back?  I left the last of the crowd at the saddle and was glad of it.  

As noted in other reports, the last mile to the summit runs up a rocky ridge that requires a little scrambling in places.  It's nothing serious, but I was glad that I had brought some cheap gardening gloves to protect my hands as some of the rocks are sharp.  The Forest Service has installed trail markers making the route fairly obvious.  The clouds had started to lift, and while the summit was socked in, I had decent views most of the way up.  I got to the top just after noon and was surprised to find that I was the first person on the summit that day.  I had time for a leisurely snack and some snap shots, before the guy with the boombox arrived to spoil the serenity.

The trip back down was uneventful, except for a final encounter with an aggressive dog.  I like dogs, but this put a real downer on what should have been a happy day.  I'm glad I checked off this state high point (#24) 'cause I don't think I'll want to go back again.


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