We met Johnr1 at the TH at 9AM precisely. We were all looking forward to a nice hike with some elevation and beautiful vistas. It was already going to be a great day as the temps were fine and there were some pretty clouds in the sky
. As we got closer to the lava flow, I was surprised at how big some of the trees seemed to be along the way. I also found it enjoyable that I could walk and gawk and take movies; even walking backward
for a few minutes. My compadres assured me they wouldn't let me walk into a tree or anything but I wasn't so sure
It's always surprising to me that you can see a summit or a fire lookout WAY up there and within a few hours that's where you will be
. I found the lava flow fascinating and could have spent more time 'sploring around but we had a mission to complete. As we made our way higher the views expanded so that we could finally see about level with Sunset Crater. And then we got to see Mt Elden and then the SanFrancisco Peaks with snow. SWEET!
I thot I might get by lightly with photos this day but it was not the case; especially as we got higher and higher. Fortunately my injury had healed enough that I was able to go full on "tibbermode" despite Ambika's appeal
to help me limit my photo taking. Even Guru was getting into the spirit of it. I hope Ambika posts some of her pics. Her macros were terrific as we came across various wildflowers from time to time.
The hiking up the mountain went pretty well for the most part since most of the elevation gain is in that last mile. I kept looking at Scout in dismay as we weren't gaining as much elevation as I had hoped knowing then that the last mile was going to kick my arse
. Well it wasn't so much the last mile but the last 1/3rd mile or so to the saddle.
We took a 10 minute break at the first saddle (between O'Leary and Darton Dome) before taking on that last mile and then it was up, up we went... walking toward the sky.
The last 1/4 mile or so I got into that take several steps, breathe - wait 5 to 10 seconds and proceed. A couple times I would try and talk myself into not
breaking but walking thru several steps, not
stopping and pushing thru to continue walking one foot in front of the other. It kind of worked but not as much as I had hoped.
I joined the others at the place between the two summits, took a few deep breaths and then followed Guru, Ambika and John up
the cinder sand to reach the Peak.
I was only able to use one pole due to my injury and I sure wish I could have used the other as the sand was pretty deep and the elevation pretty steep. Fortunately Guru has pretty big feet so he would leave some decent enuf impressions on the sloped sand to give me a foot up so to speak. 200 feet and 20 minutes later; I was at the top and plopped myself down on the benchmark to take a breather.
We walked around the summit and enjoyed the wonderful views; especially of the SF Peaks. Fortunately it wasn't too windy. 10 minutes later we were slip/sliding our way back down the cinder sand
and 1/2 hour later we were at the top of the tower as Jeanne invited us up. We were thrilled with this invite and enjoyed our time up top as we surveyed the land and enjoyed some of the photos from her album. She graciously offered to take our group picture too http://hikearizona.com/dex2/igallery/image_page.php?id=4537
. We then enjoyed a leisurely lunch at the rock outcropping below the tower. It was suprisingly wind free and John made himself right at home http://hikearizona.com/dex2/igallery/image_page.php?id=4538
At 2 we started our way down the mountain. The temps were still quite nice and we pretty much kept it in gear other than John's quick rock climb, a quick respit at the saddle and then down, down, down we went enjoying the sunnier skies and different light on our surrounding views. I was still enthralled by the lava flow as we walked by and still amazed we were WAY the heck UP there when I looked back. We reached the TH around 4:30 and headed to Beaver Street for a nice supper before heading back down to the desert.
Notes of Interest:
The Sunset eruption was different in that it started along a fault, then collected into one main cone, which spat cinders and lava over a wide area. A bolus of basaltic lava breached the cone and formed a flow on BOTH sides of the volcano. O'Leary predates Sunset Volcano.
The Peak is named for a 19th century mountain man and guide, Daniel O'Leary born in 1843 from Ireland.
Video 1 to the first saddle: http://youtu.be/5kXB7fWXUfg
Video 2 from first saddle to Summit and Firetower: http://youtu.be/dImW72Na4_0
Video 3 from the Firetower to the TH: http://youtu.be/A_zZ33V6s38