After being on our "to-do" list for years, we decided it was time to do the ultimate Pinaleno hike. Nick, Bob, and I met at the Swift Trail turnoff early Saturday morning, and began the twisting, climbing journey up into the Pinaleno Mountains. We parked Nick's ride at Chesley Flat, then shuttled over to Hospital Flat in my truck. The three of us quickly disappeared into the pleasantly cool forest on the Big Creek Trail.
Near the end of the Big Creek Trail we changed course, and began a lengthy off trail hike into wild country, following the tracks of what must have been an enormous bear. The scenery and the views of the desert valleys far below were spectacular. After a frightening traverse along the top of a rocky canyon, we emerged from our off trail journey and stumbled onto the Deadman-Highline Trail. We enjoyed an incredible view from a rocky overlook, and then headed downhill among the tall trees to enjoy a well deserved lunch break. Our adventure thus far had been a tough and tiring one, but there was still a long ways to go, so on we went.
Arriving at the bottom of the Deadman-Highline Trail, we turned and followed Forest Road 508 (Bible Camp Road) back up to the Swift Trail, enjoying the sights and the easier travel. Next, we headed north, onto the Ash Creek Trail. Spring was just beginning along Ash Creek, and skunk cabbage plants were sprouting. At the old boiler, we hung a left onto the Webb Peak Trail.
Being the first high altitude hike of the year for the three of us, we were breathing hard. The north slope of Webb Peak still held a few patches of snow despite the extremely dry winter. The summit of Webb Peak brought an end to the climbing, and we enjoyed the view from the fire tower in the chilly wind. A lone hiker soon approached the tower. "That looks a bit like AZWaterRat", I thought. It was. We talked for a few minutes then went our separate ways.
The last leg of our journey took us down the Chesley Flat Trail, among grassy mountain top meadows, and through dense spruce-fir forest. Our grand tour ended at the always picturesque Chesley Flat, where we climbed into Nick's truck. Nick drove us back to my truck, and we began the journey home.
Thanks for making the long drive out to the Pinalenos, guys. It was a great adventure as always!