Mt. Humphreys via Inner Basin from FR552 TH - Oct2011 Trek
This has been earmarked as my "Autumn Colours Hike 2011" based on last years' Mt. Humphreys via Weatherford Trail early October trek => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=157952
Plans had been sent to "the usual suspects" months in advance to HOLD the 10/1 - 10/2 weekend for this backpacking trek;
The Hike Description => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=1054
The GPS map => http://hikearizona.com/map.php?GPS=10603
One Way Hike => 11.1 miles and 4957 ft elevation gain
1. Drive up to Flagstaff evening of Friday 9/30 and stay overnight at local Holiday Inn Express
2. Early start Saturday morning to get to the FR552 (Inner Basin access road) turn-off gate by 7am. FR552 is closed due to last years' Schultz Fire. This is now the start of the hike at 7,676 ft and mile 0.0.
3. Hike up FR552 to Lockett Meadow and the Inner Basin TH at 8,569 ft and mile 3.0.
4. Continue through the aspen forest enjoying the fall colours => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=157955
Here's a pic I took last year on 10/2 looking back from near Humphreys Peak looking back at the Inner Basin yellow aspen. http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=48015
5. Out of Inner Basin and join the Weatherford Trail at 10,993 ft and mile 7.5.
6. Arrive at Fremont Saddle at 11,356 ft and mile 8.5 and set-up camp late Saturday afternoon. Here's a pic taken last year on 10/1 at my camp on Fremont Saddle => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=157948
That's 8.5 total miles 3,680 ft elevation gain backpacked on Saturday with 12 hrs planned daylight (plenty of time for photo ops).
7. Sunday morning grab light pack and hike over 2.6 miles and up 1,277 ft to Mt. Humphreys summit at 12,633 ft and mile 11.1. Enjoy the summit views. It's all downhill from here...
8. Hike 2.6 miles back to Fremont Saddle, eat an early light lunch and break camp.
9. Hike another 8.5 miles to the vehicles parked at the FR552 gate. That's 13.7 miles hiked (5.2 miles hiked light pack, 8.5 miles downhill with backpack) on Sunday with 12 hrs planned daylight.
10. Drive back to Phoenix late Sunday afternoon expecting to be home long before 11pm (worst case).
As Friday September 30th approached, our 6 committed trekkers were winnowed down to 2 - Jeff Cherry and R. Schulhauser. On the road to Flagstaff before 6pm that Friday night with dinner at the Beaver Street Brewery => http://www.beaverstreetbrewery.com/
and an overnight stay at the local Holiday Inn Express => http://www.hiflagstaff.com/
Saturday October 1st we arrived at the FR552 trail head and parked the truck. We were the only vehicle at the TH, an indicator of the solitude we'd have the rest of the day - only saw a mountain biker at the Inner Basin pumphouse and a pair of hikers at the Inner Basin/Weatherford Trail junction. Fall Colours were only at their prelude in Lockett Meadow, but Inner Basin was at a jaw-dropping riot of colour! Discovered a "new" Inner Basin Trail I've never noticed before that winds the south side of Inner Basin towards the Waterline Road/Pumphouse junction. Interesting to see significant amounts of water flowing from the spring - never seen that before. Guess with the waterline washed out from the Schultz Fire and the City of Flagstaff no longer pumping water from the Inner Basin, the spring is flowing again. The silent pumphouses along the route was a first for me. We set up camp on Fremont Saddle and enjoyed a leisurely camp dinner. We just finished watching a great sunset punctuated by some rain clouds when the skies began to let loose on our camp. We retired to our tents to an evening of rain, sleet, snow - not once, but three times...
Sunday October 2nd we wake to frigid temperatures and a view of the San Francisco Peaks that made you think you were at Machu Picchu in the mist => http://www.google.com/imgres?q=machu+pi ... 29,r:2,s:0
Jeff and I loaded our day packs and headed up the Weatherford toward Mt. Humphreys. My first photo attempt was thwarted by a dead battery, no problem, I always carry a spare. Loaded my spare into my camera, same thing - dead battery. With nothing to lose, I warmed up my first battery in my hands for about 5 minutes and placed it back into my camera. Like magic, the camera came back to life with the battery indicator showing full charge! As we arrived at Humphreys Saddle, we met our first people of the day - a group of 4 that had trekked up to the summit starting at 3am to catch the sunrise! As we began climbing along the Humphreys Summit Trail, the misty skies cleared. We were treated to clear skies all the way to the summit and as we lingered at the top. This is by far the highest altitude Jeff has ever been at - 12,633 feet. Soon a line of rain clouds came in from the west prompting us to start our decent. As we passed other hikers making the ascent, a clap of lightning turned many around. Jeff and I made it back to Fremont Saddle before noon allowing time for a leisurely lunch, break camp and to assemble our backpacks for the 8.5 miles back to the truck. Solitude was reinforced (not counting the Humphreys Summit Trail freeway traffic) as we only saw 2 hikers on the Weatherford Trail, nary a soul on the Inner Basin Trail, and 3 trekkers making their way up FR552.
Choice Cag Shots at post backpack TH tailgate; St Peters Old-Style Porter and Cream Stout => http://www.stpetersbrewery.co.uk/store/ ... Position=1
Fantastic Autumn Colours trek with the FR552 road closure creating a "human-free" zone. A little bit of "weather", but nothing that stopped us from doing what we planned. Photos to follow...