I decided I would finally take a road trip to Arizona and try to tag the state highpoint, Humphreys Peak. I live in Medford, Oregon, so the road trip is 1,000+ miles just to get to the trailhead. I left home Wednesday August 17, 2005 and headed south. I wanted to climb other mountains on this trip, so I stopped in Yosemite and climbed Parsons Peak on Thursday and then Telescope Peak in Death Valley on Friday.
I finally arrived at the Snowbowl Ski parking lot, elevation 9,300 ft, Friday night about 9:00PM. It had been a long day of driving from Death Valley, so I crawled into the back of my truck and went to sleep.
About 5:30AM a couple cars drove into the parking area and woke me up. It was still almost dark, but early hikers were starting to arrive for their hike up this popular mountain. I got myself ready by 6:00AM and headed out on the well marked Humphreys Peak trailhead towards the Weatherford Saddle and Humphreys Peak.
The trail is wide and easy to follow, crosses a large grassy area and under a chair lift before reaching the tree line and the Kachina Peaks Wilderness Boundary. The trail then continues into the forest and starts ascending up to Weatherford Saddle. Within ½ mile I came to a fork in the trail and a register. I registered and followed the trail to the left up the mountain. The trail has several large switchbacks up the mountain and the trail is easy to follow. The elevation gain to the Weatherford Saddle is about 2,700 feet and gradually becomes steeper as you ascend. The trail is through the forest for most of the way and the views are limited until you get close to the saddle.
Stay on the trail at all times, because there are signs warning about a $500.00 fine for off trail travel. The Weatherford Saddle is a worthy goal for the hike in its own right. It sits between Humphreys Peak and Agassiz Peak. The views from this location are good and it is a good place to stop and rest before pushing on to the summit. From the saddle you have a choice of going north to Humphreys Peak or south towards Agassiz Peak. The trail towards Agassiz Peak does not go to the summit of Agassiz and you may be subject to that $500.00 fine for climbing Agassiz during the summer when there is no snow.
I took the trail to Humphreys Peak and the trail became rockier and less distinct. There are posts along this part indicating where the trail actually is located. It is not difficult to follow the trail and I could see the summit objective ahead. The trail generally follows the ridgeline all the way to the summit. At this point I met the first of the early hikers who was returning back down the ridge after summiting. Also, 2 women trail runners passed me on their way to the summit.
At the summit on a perfect day like today I could see for a hundred miles in any direction. The Grand Canyon to the north was visible. Another hiker from Alabama whom I had followed up the mountain was on the summit and soon other trail runners and hikers started to arrive. I ate an apple and hydrated well before heading back down the mountain.
The descent back down the trail was eventful because of the number of people who were now on the trail. Amazingly, I passed at least 180 people who were heading up the mountain. These hikers were of all sorts, young and old, slim and not so slim, fit and not so fit, trail runners, men, women, children, and dogs. Lots of dogs! There was even a guy training for Mt Rainier with a massive backpack and plastic boots. They all had the same goal as I did, reaching the summit of Humphreys Peak.
I got back to my car before lunch with a total time of 5 ¼ hours plus summit resting time. My GPS said I had gone 10.2 miles and climbed 3,300 ft. It was a beautiful day on a popular mountain.
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