After yesterday's warm-up hike up-and-back from Upper Ash Springs we were eager to get started on the summit hike. Being early to bed the night before I was awake way too early, but took advantage of that by removing the tent-fly so we could see the stars like we'd never see them back in Mesa.
Eventually the wait for sunrise was dragging on so we got up, made a quick job of breaking camp and grabbing breakfast and hit the trail at 6:55 am. Somehow the hike up to the springs seemed so much easier than the day before, which was nice since the steeper climbing begins immediately after the springs. Good thing there are plenty of switchbacks in this section, but even with them it soon became an effort. Thankfully it was a nice cool day so even now out in the sun it felt great. At this point it seems so weird to me because the higher we climb the farther from Bassett Peak we get. If we were the crow flying from the springs to the peak it wouldn't even be 3/4 mile, but taking to long wide loop north-west-south-east-north to reach the summit it takes 3 miles.
Upon reaching the ridge where we'd catch the actual Bassett Peak Trail we were rewarded with a breath-taking view of the Santa Catalina's to the west. But with plans for a number of side-trips on the return we pressed on. As we traversed the ridge toward the peak, each time we and would catch another portion of the trail ahead we'd wonder just how are we going to get over there
? Yet once we reached that section of the trail there was nothing to it. It just proves breaking anything down to one-step-at-a-time makes the task just that much easier.
When we reached the overlook across from the 1943 bomber crash site I took the usual pictures and prepared for the steepest part of the climb. Again we seem to be taking the roundabout way, which in fact we are.
Once on the trail traversing the south side of Bassett Peak, rather than picking our way directly up to the summit we continued on the trail just far enough south until it started down to get a feel for the area for future reference. Than we turned back scouting for the best spot to push for the summit. As usual there was a cairn at what turned out to be a reasonably easy route to the top. At the top we took a break, grabbed replenishment, read a number of the comments in the two jars, took photos, some videos and headed back down.
At the end of the ridge traverse on the return trip we headed out along the East Divide Trail and took a few side-trips off-trail. Great views all around! We'll have to come back for a backpack trip along the divide someday.
Having taken the bulk of the day for the hike we know had the drive back home ahead of us. After a quick glance at the map and with a little bit of daylight left we decided to take the Aravaipa Road northwest from Bonita then hit Klondyke Road back to the 70. By doing this we saved only 6 miles, but without the long slow 35 mph drive through Safford/Thatcher it saved us almost an hour, which brought us from TH to home in 4 hours flat. (Ok, so much of the detour drive was taken at 65 mph+ but the dirt roads were very smooth.)
It wasn't easy picking the best photos out of 175 but I had to stop somewhere so I only posted 30 on HAZ, the full set of 175 are here: