To CAMP GRASSHOPPER: Linda and I started out for Camp Grasshopper at 4 from my house; a little behind schedule but it turned out to be perfect timing as we arrived at the "rock stop" area with the Grasshopper and Hank awaiting our arrival. The good news is that Tonto has the ability to be winched from both sides in the front. The first time winching of Tonto was very smooth and afterward Hank (by the way "thank you")
remarked, "glad to know this winch line all still works". We got everything unpacked and the tents up with great views
looking NW toward the Mazzies. We enjoyed a quick dinner and the fire before retiring at hiker's bedtime. Little did we know how COLD it was going to be. We were thinking in the low 40s but it was in the low 30s with the wind.
DAY ONE: The next morning we gathered some wood to warm up us and the fire, had breakfast and prepared our gear for the hike. Pretty soon we see a white truck and John comes rolling in; apparently having no trouble with the "rock stop". He arrived an hour early at Camp Grasshopper so that was good. He would ride with Hank to the TH. Before you knew it, our ride arrived. I wasn't sure if the driver knew
he had to stop as he barreled into camp and then I saw Bob and immediately thot, "that splains it" and also thot "he drives like he hikes
". We were told we would be going to the TH in the cushy environs of a suburban but instead we held on for dear life
in the back seat of the jeep like it was a carnival ride... oh wait, maybe it was
We arrived very shortly thereafter at a busy TH. Here we encountered two gentleman with Superstitions Search and Rescue and were surprised to hear they were looking for a lost hiker named Joe (our Joe). So they conversed with Bob and Hank. We also found out that the hikers in a tent in the middle of the TH were hiking the AZT and one of them was blind (hiking for The Foundation for Blind Children). Linda, John and I started up the trail knowing the rest would not be far behind. Hank caught up with us shortly thereafter and as we came up the switchback out in the open partially up the mountain, Bob and Richard caught and passed us as well.
The trail is in wonderful shape and though the switchbacks seem to be the long way to get you to the north side, I found them quite enjoyable as you had ample time to see the scenery around you. There are some pretty neat rock formations and the size of some of the cactus and agaves is incredible. And of course, there is the thick brush on each side of you which blocks your vision straight thru to the ground when you're looking for someone. There were also these long round log structures here and there that we really couldn't decide what their usage was as in one case it was somewhat off to the side of the trail and being overgrown by brush
We finally hooked up with Hank and Richard at the cairn marking the "turn here" area. Hank relied on his GPS to keep us on track as we headed south to the summit. He also took the time
to work with me on showing how to track. I know how to record and upload/download routes but following them was a whole different ballgame. He changed the tracking on the map function from always being north to tracking the direction you were going. I think this will be helpful so we'll see how that goes. Anyway, I was actually able to see where we got off track altho on the way down, the route seemed to be a free-for-all. This was not necessarily a bad thing as at least that way, we were able to cover additional ground to see if there were any signs of Joe.
The climb to the top is certainly a hit or miss until you get to the rocky area where it is well-cairned. Otherwise it seems like more of a small bushwhack here and there. As we were about 1/2 way up the SAR fellows caught us. They had additional conversations with Hank while I went back to get Linda as she had stopped part way up the hill from feeling ill. I told her I at least wanted her to get to the top so that I knew where she was in case we ended up doing some kind of search from there. She persevered and within about 15 minutes we had made it to the top
but not before admiring the great views to the west of Horseshoe Lake and north to Mount Catherine. I also love walking on the beautifully colored bedrock amongst the changing environ of the cactus and trees.
As we summited I grabbed some photos of the boys around and on the remnants of a tree as well as of the views to the south and west. It was a beautiful day to get to the top of Peeley. I am always amazed that looking from below where you just start on the trail
, you really get all the way UP THERE. As I looked to the NE I remember the day in 2004 when the Willow Fire started. We were coming back from Rim country and had to pull over near the rodeo grounds to take pictures at the billowing smoke as it tried to hide the sun. I found those pictures. I also took a look at the photosets on HAZ prior to 2004 and you can see that there were many more trees. It had to be beautiful but the one silver-lining is now the views have opened up to even more views.
Linda found the register (that our fellow HAZer Preston had put in Apr 18th - before we saw his trip report) as John looked for the highest point of Peeley (it's to the east side). We had a snack, looked around a bit more and then headed back down the mountain. Bob was long gone in some ravine in the far distance though he did call back (they had radios) to let us know he encountered a rattler which he tried to put on speaker
but we didn't hear nothin'. Richard went down the southwest side of the mountain where he picked up some cairns (that was the better route from what I could tell) while Hank & I were trying to follow the loaded GPS route which had us going north to hook up with the trail. John stayed even higher before making his way thru the trees to the trail. From there it was clear sailing to the TH.
John and I decided to take our time on the way down so we stopped and admired, climbed, took photos, discussed and such. It's a great little trail but seems to take way long to get to the TH as you switch your way. Once back, we got word that Bob was on the Divide Trail and before you knew it, he showed up. Hank and John took off with everyone's packs while Bob and Richard talked with AZT guys. When it was time to go,
oops - the jeep driver had no keys. We waited for a time hoping John & Hank might realize we hadn't arrived plus we left a message on John's cell.... all to no avail so Bob made the 2.5 mile or so run uphill
back to Camp Grasshopper. I'm glad Bob had no problem with doing that as I fear we would have been waiting a lot longer.
Once back at camp, it was time to bring out the snacks and stoke the fire. I had brot up a special brew beer as I couldn't get it open. BAB did the honors and it was well worth the wait (I've had the Vintage Ale since Xmas). We also got a chance to visit with everyone as Chef Hank prepared the evening meal which was beyond OUTSTANDING! Yum, yum, yum. Entertainment
was provided by BAB as he attempted to break a thin tree trunk (see the video) and then it was muscling giant cut logs
onto the fire by Steve. Apparently he prefers bonfires rather than campfires and on this windy chilly evening, it was welcome.
DAY TWO: After another chilly nite, we had a quick breakfast, gathered some wood and then headed back to town on this one lane, windy and long road. I've never had a chance to just enjoy the views from this road as I've been the driver but I have to tell you, what I did get to see is so
. So much to see out there except that the hikes are not the easiest. And of course, one of these times when we come back
, hopefully we will have news that Joe has been found.
Video 1, climb to the Summit and photos from 2004 Willow Firehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPwrH2LsWTw
Video 2, hike from the Summit, Camp Grasshopper festivities http://youtu.be/uA-LjIu3cZg
(edited 12/01/2011 as youtube had taken off my audio due to one of the songs I had used)
Hank for putting the event together! It is much appreciated.
PS. Thx BAB, partner 51. Thx Richard, partner 52