Weatherford Trail 2010
Looks like we've hit critical mass with Preston Sands, Clark Norgaard, Eric Cope, and myself all committed to this backpack overnighter 8/28-8/29.THE PLAN:
1. Clark and Eric rendezvous at Chez Schulhauser's say 6-ish in the morning on Saturday 8/28
2. Arrive at Schultz Pass parking lot sometime between 9 and 10 am and hook-up with Preston Sands (and others?) who will be arriving from Safford AZ.
3. Start up (~8000ft @ TH) the Weatherford Trail and establish camp at either Doyle Saddle (~10,900 ft, 6.5 miles from TH) or Fremont Saddle (~11,500, 8.3 miles from TH). I'm consistently told that Doyle Saddle is the place to camp => viewtopic.php?t=4280
4. Ascent of Doyle Peak or Freemont Peak are a possibility late Saturday afternoon => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=667
5. Sunday morning breakfast and break camp leaving backpacks behind for daypack only to Humphrey's Summit (12,608 ft and 10.9 miles from TH).
6. Early lunch (or snack) on the Summit and a leisurely stroll downhill to retrieve our backpacks and continue back Schultz Pass. NOTE: 5.4 miles up from Doyle Saddle plus 10.9 miles down from Summit to TH is a 16.3 mile day at altitude...
7. Dinner - tbd. Beaver Street Brewery has never let us down...
8. Drive back from Flag to the Valley Sunday eveninghttp://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=162http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=101983
GPS route => http://hikearizona.com/location_g.php?GPS=9352 THE EXECUTION:
Remember the conversation about Mount Whitney and "Camp Misery"...
A quick check on the National Weather Service website http://www.nws.noaa.gov/
for the San Francisco Peaks weekend forecast before Clark arrives at Chez Schulhauser's. 30% chance of showers Saturday, 20% chance Saturday night, 20% chance Sunday => all looking "manageable". On the road 6-ish as planned and Clark has us pulling into Flagstaff before 9am. A text from Preston indicates he's passing Mormon Lake making his way from Safford. We set the Subway on Milton as our rendezvous spot and we're soon a two truck caravan onto Schultz Pass.
We get the obligatory TH group shots snapped off and we're on the trail at 10:15am per Clark's watch. Although it's sunny at the start, we can see some extremely fast moving clouds over by Fremont Peak. As we continue the ascent towards Doyle Saddle, temperatures begin to plummet. During one of our many photo ops, I opt to breakout the sweatshirt and GoreTex jacket. Clark is in high gear and can't handle the photo breaks so we tell him to go on ahead and setup camp in the wooden "corral" on the southwest side of Doyle Saddle. Preston and I are soon passed by the first ascending hiker we see today, a man and his dog, indicating they plan to camp at Fremont Saddle tonight.
We miss the car wreck http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=75525
near the last switchback to Doyle Saddle as we're engulfed in the clouds. We spot Clark's tent in the wooden "corral" and Preston and I amble over to dump our heavy packs. I know these are the first looks at the Inner Basin for Clark and Preston and their jaws are dropped. We take advantage of the late afternoon light to go explore before setting up camp. I make my way up Doyle Peak hoping to catch a sunset image or two, but clouds eliminate any chance for that...
Back at the wooden "corral", we get all three tents within the windbreaks and begin to assemble dinner. Mountain House Beef Stroganoff is both chosen by Preston and me, whereas Clark has Santa Fe Chicken. Extremely fast moving clouds close in on us and the wind picks up significantly. Our conversation centers on mountain camps and we talk about Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" and my "Camp Misery" http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=8725
at Mount Whitney. Preston is reading Bear Grylls' account of climbing Mount Everest and adds to the conversation. Clark brews some warming tea and we all decide to retire to get an early start on our Sunday morning assault of Mount Humphreys...
As the winds begin to sound 747-like and then comes the rain! Camp Misery Redux!
Sunday morning light arrives with howling winds, rain falling at a 90 degree angle and temperatures just above freezing. We're stunned as you see clouds whip by below you at race car speeds. We're socked in by dense clouds. A fog horn seems appropriate at this time. The call is easy. Break camp and head back to the trail head and grab a hot breakfast back in Flagstaff. Mount Humphrey's will have to wait for another day...