I had originally planned on a hike with Hank and Gabriele to Canyon Lake and back but it was going to be a bit too close on time, and when I heard the families of the three gold-hunters were seeking photos of Yellow Peak, I thought I'd make the best of it. I met Hank and Gabriele at the First Water TH and we set off together on Second Water Trail. When we got to the Black Mesa turnoff, Gabriele took a photo of Hank and I (in case I didn't return it would be a 'last photo') then I set off on my trek toward Yellow Peak. A few easy hours and about 4 miles from the start I left the Black Mesa Trail in full view of Yellow Peak.
Having drawn out four different route possibilities the night before and knowing I wanted to spend more time on the NE part of the peak, I followed the creek toward the NE until I realized the longer I waited to start climbing, the farther I'd have to go around and back up. So I just started climbing. The rocks were just the right size to make reasonably easy work of the short climb before turning toward the NE saddle. Once on the west side of the north slope I worked my way across and up to the upper saddle. From there I went north to the last high point before heading back toward the summit. But with my plan to cross the summit and head back down the south end when I returned to Black Mesa Trail on the way out, I turned ENE and followed the slope down to a lower saddle and a rocky ridge above Boulder Canyon. I took a look around there, taking photos of Yellow Peak itself as well as Battleship and other assorted points of interest. I had my lunch of sorts and began heading back up the NE slope to the first saddle I crossed earlier, only spending more time and taking more photos of the area before continuing on to the summit. Although there were sections of good-sized rocks to walk over, for the most part the climb to the summit wasn't so much a climb as simply a stroll uphill.
The summit turned out to be one pretty big flat table, rocks here and there but mostly just a grassy clearing. Up top I took a number of videos as well as tons of photos taking the view in from all directions. As I was continuing toward the south to return back to the Black Mesa Trail, I noticed a glass jar on top of a pile of rocks. It was the summit log of sorts. Only one sheet of old flaky paper with entries of two people on 10/18/08, two more on 10/23/10 (one was the same person as in '08) and the last by SSAR on 1/11/11.
Take note of the 10/23/10 date... that's three months AFTER the three went missing and two and a half month BEFORE they were found nearby.
Hmmm, I wonder what route they took up to the summit and how close they may have come to where the gold-hunters were found. Could it be the three were in fact NOT THERE at the time and had been staged
there at a later date?
On the other side of the coin, the 'more-natural' causes... could it be one or more got snake-bit? Although the day started cool out in the full sun on the peak it seemed almost warm enough for rattlesnakes to be out so I definitely had my snake hook at-the-ready, especially with all the burrows I kept breaking through as I walked over the holey
ground in my Teva's (and bare feet) of course. I'm sure the peak would be a rattler's heaven in the warmer months. I'll have to come back later to check that out... I've come up a bit short on rattler videos lately.
On the descent down the south slope I wandered back and forth, seeking the easiest route to use when I come back to create a more 'official' GPS route as well as looking for more great photos opportunities. Now it was getting time for me to turn for home so I headed over to and caught the Black Mesa Trail. within 100 yards I met a couple who asked me if I had been on Yellow Peak and we chatted about what we knew, what we didn't and what we heard through hearsay. Of course in the end it was all speculation, yet it was a very enlightening and interesting conversation. Within .5 mile of the Second Water Trail I met a young (mid 20's?) couple with a young boy (3-4?) who were walking toward me. The man asked me where Black Mesa was, to which I pointed out the whole ridge along the Mesa. "No, the one where you get a good view of Weaver's Needle" he said. When I asked what info he had and where he got it he showed me a print-out from the Internet that was simply a poor description, no map, no mileage, nada. And guess what? They are now 2.5+ miles out, it's getting warmer, he's sweating, they have no water AT ALL... so I told him they better head back now. Not being too sure they'd find their way back to FW TH, I stayed with them until the last stretch up the hill to the trail head. They caught up as I finished signing out in the log book and thanked me. I gave them info about HAZ for future hikes and recommended he get a GPS. At which time he tells me he has one that he used for geocaching some time before! I recommended again he use HAZ for trail info as well as GPS tracks to keep them on track. Hopefully they will take the advice before their next 'no-water' foray into the Supes.
5:36 moving time, 2:24 stopped for a total of 8 hours on the dot.NOTE, there are TWO HAZ photosets linked above:1.
30 photos of various views FROM Yellow Peak2.
35 photos cover the ground on Yellow Peak itself, mostly toward the NE area where supposedly two of the three gold-hunters were found.
First set of photos of Yellow Peak itself are here:http://www.changephoenix.com/11/2011-01-21YellowPeak1.html
The second set which will be of views from
Yellow Peak will be here soon:http://www.changephoenix.com/11/2011-01-21YellowPeak2.html