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Humphreys hike on Sept. 18, 2007

September 22 2007 at 8:00 PM
Lynn Arave 

Response to Humphreys Peak, Arizona (12,633 feet)

Got lucky on the weather here. Almost ZERO wind on a peak that seems to be known for high winds.
It helped too, that I postponed the hike for a day in hopes of calmer weather.
Very rocky trail here. Given my injured ankle too, I wish I'd have taken at least one of the two ski poles in my trunk along.
Much of this hiking terrain in the upper reaches of this hike reminded me of Mount St. Helens.
After hiking this peak, I finally understood the geography of the San Francisco Mountains and realized that you can't see Humphreys from 95 percent of the town of Flagstaff below. All the vast majority of residents see is Agassiz Peak! (I doubt most Flagstaff residents even realize that fast too.)
Obviously this is a sacred mountain to many Native Americans and it was extra special. Incredible vistas on top!
I also find the fascinating that there are apparently no year-round streams coming from these mountains.
As I recall, one Indian tribe called these mountains the "place of high snows," but I think another gave it some dry peaks kind of name for its absence of streams flowing.
I also know the Native Americans do not like the idea of snow being made out of reclaimed water on this sacred mountain either. They have blocked such snowmaking in court.
Anyway, as a volcanic mountain, this is an intriguing place. A 15,000-foot high original volcanic summit is believe to have existed here, until it collapsed/blew up or both, some 200,000 yeas ago.
The ranking by many of this being the 10th hardest high point seems about right. I've done Elbert and it is a little easier than that.
You can't camp above 11,400 foot elevation in these mountains. That's fact. However, I'm not totally clear on the ski lift usage to hike Humphreys peak. I know there's a unique flower on the mountain, but it appeared that only a few hundred yards of connection trail would be needed to link the top of the ski area with the existing summit trail. That doesn't seem like much of an intrusion on this flower and might mean some less capable hikers could summit the peak via the ski lift taking them halfway there.
I also heard you can't hike to Agassiz Peak itself because of the flower preservation.
The Humphreys trail begins at the Arizona Snowbowl's lower parking lot. You have to look for wooden posts in the upper reaches of this trail at times.
I also didn't find a USGS metal marker on the summit. It may be there, but if so, it is very obscure.
This is a peak you can zip up and zip down, but I found an hour's stop on top worth the view.
Took me 3 1/2 hours to summit on a day I was recovering from an illness the 2 days prior. Got down in about 2 hours. I'm not sure I saw one cloud during the entire hike.
I had one companion with me .
I somehow went off trail once in the first mile of the hike by not noticing an obvious turn in the trail and crossed a rockslide instead.
I made a correction back in 5 minutes to the trail, but my companion had already gone down looking for me.

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