Just can't stay away..
(And sorry for all the super in-depth route reporting; I just find I remember things better this way..)
This was actually one of the best routes I've taken, all things considered. We went 1-2-3-4 and then out on the Amethyst Trail. Temps were warm, but still better than for the trip two weeks ago.
Browns to 2 was good. We started down from the SE but should have kept walking before making the descent. Further SE would have been better. Still, not a bad route. Made it to 2 in about two hours, which was basically on target for the last hike. I got a little off route before summitting this one and things began to get slightly hairy. This is right after the spot where the little Christmas tree is growing out of the rock. The tree is where you start climbing, but everything should be good so if you end up on something iffy, rethink it and try something else.
2-3, as always, was a real pumpkin. Sigh. MUCH better route getting over to the cave/wormhole this time; much less bushwhacking! I think we stayed higher on the ridge, maybe even off to the west a little? My brain was in "I'm following them, so I'm not paying attention right now" mode. Hehe, oops. It was great though. Had a short section where we thought about taking the Razor's Edge. Still not sure what that is, and I don't think I want to find out. We eventually located the wormhole area, which if you don't know where it is (and even if you do) you might never see it. Scooted on our butts down the Backwards Z. Bob went through a large natural tunnel here but the rest of us continued south before the tunnel and downclimbed before pushing to the saddle for lunch.
At the saddle looking south, you're not really looking at 3 but at a divot. We climbed up this both via the scree chute and the pop-up bush (I think that's what Joe called it). Both are good routes. Come around to the west a little bit, and the terrain has a ton of diagonals in it, running up the slope. The trail looks like it continues west, but honestly the route going up the diagonal is solid. Climb to the top of the divot. Looking straight south from here, you'll see 3. You'll know it's 3 because the rock on it sort of forms a diamond. I just call it the Black Diamond on 3; just makes me relieved every time I see it. Will post a pic at some point later on. After coming off the divot, you'll want to pretty much climb up the west (righthand) side of the diamond. There are excellent routes here that will keep you north of the peak. Coming around the other sides is just not a great idea.
We took a quick break at the top of 3 just long enough to admire Joe's fancy new bright red sun spectacles, then plotted out the route to get to 4. This should be done before coming down 3, because the bushes and divots down there make everything harder to see. Came down the south side of 3 and then had to work up another divot-ish section. Keep climbing and climbing and climbing, and at the top of the divot is a sort of window you can pop through. The route going down from here is okay, but I believe there's a better one farther down to the east. If you can find that one, take it. If not, then cool beans, you get to have an adventure. Downclimb this and at the bottom imagine that you just want to make a straight line to 4. Just keep in mind that it's not south
, it's southeast
from here. First step is to stay on the Roosevelt (east) side of the first divot, then make sure to keep on the Phoenix side (west) of the next couple divots. Then the key is to go right in between two of these divots.. here's the thing, when it starts looking like you are headed toward the 3-4 chute, GO EAST. If you end up in the chute, then you'll be forced to climb up the false summit on 4, and that's just not pretty. So yeah, you'll go back to the Roosevelt side and then happily bypass that false peak and summit 4 like a boss. We actually did this but still stayed too far east somehow and came up a little early. It wasn't a bad route, but it did take a little extra energy. We all hit the top of 4 and then gathered in Joe's cozy retirement spot overlooking Roosevelt Lake through some dead trees. Just perfect.
After a lengthy break, it was time to cut over to the chute and make our ways down to the mine. Bob just about completed the MLDV but then rejoined the rest of us before we got too jealous. The chute was alright and no unexpected boulders came down upon anyone. However, we did send a few down on purpose that seemed rather iffy. Hit the trail after the mine and started back. Caught a bit of surprise when there turned out to be a giant rock slide on the trail, I think between 2-3? Pretty crazy, and I'm glad nothing like that ever happened while we were up there. The rains have really done a number on the terrain up there, and also on the roads. We gathered up our caches at the Browns Saddle and then dawdled on down to the car hallucination-free (for once). Really fun trip. The only part I didn't really like was coming back in the traffic on 87. Should have just taken the torn-up Four Peaks Rd instead. Thanks for a really memorable trip guys.