I started from Mesa, AZ at 9:30am thinking I could be at the trailhead in 2 hours. Big mistake. I got to the trailhead 4.5 hours later. I thought I could ascend and descend the mountain in 4 hours, ending at 6pm. Big mistake. It is a 6 hour hike ladies and gentlemen, and please do not get trapped outside as the temperature dips into the 50s starting at 7pm. About 2/3 down, I called out "Hello!" and some one answered thank god! It was a couple camping, I just wanted to make sure I was on the right trail and just to have someone to talk to after being alone, dark, cold, and scared shtless... after that I continued through a very erie forest with many felled trees and some very large, and very dead pine trees and finally out into a large meadow where I continously heard elk call out, wolves howl, and shadows jumping around. I turned around every 5 seconds to make sure a bear was not behind me.
I survived though.
Before dark fell the hike was awesome... especially the begining. Early October, slight breeze, Aspen trees are all gold, it's very cool outside and very pleasant. It reminded me of Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. So if you like Thanksgiving I suggest you hike this hike.
As for the forbidden summit: I crossed the Apache boundary cautiously, looking for Indians and ready to run back across the boundary. I slowly walked up the summit, took a quick peak and quickly ran down not wanting to anger the gods.
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