In the hike description Joe says, "Are you ready for Humphreys"... well...no!
but I would never be unless someone like Wendy insisted on dragging me up with her. Wendy uses this on me: "This hike starts just a couple hundred feet less than the TOP
of Wrightson which is also the hike you did so well on." She continues "Humphreys has less elevation gain" (a whole 700 feet or so). But Wendy, we're starting at nearly the TOP
of Wrightson and going another 3300 feet with less and less air. However, if she thinks I can do it and she's willing to put up with my whining and constantly having to prod me, I guess I better get with it. So off we go to finish another item NOT on my "Wish List"
We drove up Friday nite, had dinner in Flagstaff and then headed out to find and then mark a camping area in the Lava Tube area. Wendy found a beautiful camp spot with a fire ring just to the right of the junction with the Lava Tube/Kendrick Peak roads. Other than the Ent attack
on Nismo, we successfully set up camp and were able to have cell phone contact with all the folks that missed our sign for this turn.
So after little sleep (it was quite windy at camp), the next morning we all headed to the Snowbowl TH where some folks were going to shuttle over for the Weatherford/Humphreys combo hike; a trek I knew would be next to impossible for me so I persuaded Wendy to just do the Summit Trail. This was a very smart move as hearing how long the combo was; I would never had made it to Humphreys. So Humphreys Summit Trail it was for Wendy, Cindy and me. We started at 8:30. The first couple miles were quite nice as we made our way to the Kachina Wilderness where a ranger was working on some deadfall from the previous nite.
We took a break at the switchback near the first rock slide looking NW. The trail was quite crowded and noisy at times as this one small group of teens we got somewhat entangled with didn't know the meaning of trail etiquette but heh, I guess they were out getting some exercise so...
We took another break a little past the 11,400 foot sign marker and were fairly pleased with our progress. The sign at the beginning of the TH said 4.25 miles; but we must have missed the part that said to the Saddle
. I thot the top was about 5.25 and thot it was odd that the sign said 4.25. Plus the hike description said you reached the Weatherford Junction at 3.75 miles so that confused us too. Little did we know getting to the Saddle around 12:10 was the easy part and that the last mile would be so much harder
than what we had already traversed. I don't think that it's the trail itself that is so much harder but the "no air" thing.
So off we went. Wendy had a hard time for some of this as she was fighting the residual effects of a cold and had a migraine. She beat herself up about the slow pace and the resting time we took for this last part but I'm surprised she even wanted to continue. I felt quite bad for her even though this resting time allowed me to catch back what little breath I had and time to take photos and some movies.
The killer on this one is when you turn that corner from this first false summit and see what's left
. We were aware of the false summits but were still surprised at the enormity of them. We knew our task and proceeded
. I do have this one exceptional photo of the tired "wendy" that is so indicative of our heart, mind and soul at the time; especially for her because she was under the weather.
We did persevere and make it to the top for a glorious day
. We were prepared for the cold and wind but got calm air (and there seemed to be a lot more of it up here) and a calm breeze. Randy, Robert, Rose and Cody were also there and a couple strangers said "congratulations"; that was so nice. After Wendy asked the large group of people in the wind circle to do the "wendy" for her blog, I quickly made my way to the far side to take my movies and then sign the register and take a picture of it. All of a sudden I look up and can't believe my eyes but there is Joe and Liz and Preston... so hugs all around and photos too. Now how awesome is that! Of all the mountains and all the trails in Arizona, this is where our paths would cross.
This was truly a "wendy" day! Then Preston showed us this neat little area where lightning had struck and created some sort of liquid drip under the tiny hole in the rock.
We had a quick bite and left the height of Humphreys at 3:15 and were back to the TH at 6:30. We were grateful for our trekking poles on some of those slippery sections. One gal we passed had some very nice tennis shoes on but was struggling in the slicker sections to get down. I felt for her. It was nice coming down later in the day as the forest seemed much more alive with the western light and squirrel action. Wendy showed me a cool way to go over a downed tree. I actually wanted to do that a couple times as it was so much fun
. The last mile through the forest seemed quite long and I found the trail annoying with the tree branches interrupting my otherwise smooth footing. It did take us 3 hours less to get down than up.
We went to Beaver Street Brewery for dinner and went back to camp where most of us headed straight to our tents and for the first time in the wild, I
soundly and only woke up 3 or 4 times. The wind was non-existent and the temp was nearly perfect. The next morning I got treated to some huckleberry pancakes made by Wendy using some of the huckleberry muffin mix I had brot her from Montana. How special was that! I got some unsolicited help packing up Wendy's 3-man tent she let me use (it was like a mansion compared to what I normally have). Doug also showed me how he folds the stake sack and fly inside the tent so you have one nice tight and compact roll to put in your tent sack.
And then it was off to the Lava River Tube Cave.....
Video from the last mile and at the top: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZjk8NxAW4k