The mountains are calling and I must go. ~ John Muir

Monday, January 10, 2011

Humphreys Peak, Arizona ~ elevation 12,633 feet

August 29, 2008
Humphreys Peak via the Humphreys Peak Trail, 9 mi
Class 1; Elevation Gain 3,500 ft

Our first encounter with significant altitude…
And a dark descent

As we drew nearer to California and the end of our cross-country trip, Tim and Julie hit one more high peak.  We pulled into the Woody Mountain Campground to acclimate and get ready for the following day’s hike to the summit of Humphreys Peak; Arizona’s highest.

The next morning, we headed out early, geared up, and started on the Humphreys Peak Trail.  Our first few steps through the wildflower meadow were full of excitement.  We hit the forest ~ the spruce and fir trees ~ and gradually climbed the switchbacks to reach the saddle.  At one point, we saw a rock slide region up ahead.  The switchback was so sharp to the right, that we barely noticed the trail continuing behind us and thought (for just a moment) that we might need to climb the rocks.  Lucky for us, we stopped to assess the situation and figure out how to cross the steep and treacherous mass of fallen fragments.  That was when we turned and saw the trail continuing
upwards.  We ambled on.

Once we reached the saddle, and headed toward what we thought was the summit, the trail grew steeper and rockier.  We reached this false summit and, with our new vantage point, realized several more stood before us.    

Once atop Humphreys, the views of the White Mountains and the north rim of the Grand Canyon were amazing.  We even watched a tornado off in the distance!  It was truly a stunning 360-degree panoramic for miles.

Although not a terribly difficult mountain to climb, the altitude was a bit intense, causing a slow ascent and a late descent.  Back at the car, Tim insisted that he was awake enough to drive back to camp, but as soon as we pulled out of the lot he had second thoughts.  We switched seats, drove back to camp, and crawled into our tent to pass out for the night.  Best sleep ever after this intense and invigorating peak!