For the first time in months (since I started bagging multiple peaks a day) I began the day with the toughest one, so after my aborted Ajax summit attempt (close, but no cigar) I took a short PB&J/Gatorade break, refilled my CamelBak and set out on the easy
hike of the day. Easy compared to Ajax, that is.
To begin with I walked along the first .1 mile of AZT passage #17 to the intersection with the old jeep trail, which happens to be the same spot where the end of passage #16 meets the beginning of passage #17. From that point I descended the very steep old jeep trail (now tough even for ATV's) to the bottom of the drainage before ascending the other side. Although at road at one time, now it was so steep and loose that even crawling on all fours was a challenge. But a few hundred feet of that then I could walk up to the saddle just north of Peak 3937.
From the saddle the slope is pretty gentle so walking upright worked well. With the small amount of brush route-finding is as simple as wherever you want to go, as long as you are heading south toward the summit. Closer to the top there are a few spots to climb up some rocky areas, although detouring around was an option as well.
Once at the summit I found a rock cairn that was large enough to hold a summit log, but alas there was none. So... just happening to have a container with paper and a sharp pencil inside, I made my entry and placed the new summit log inside the cairn.
Since the summit was on the north end of a long ridge, I began my hike to the far southern end of the ridgeline. Wow! Speaking of awesome views... this was something! Looking across the canyon to the east one could see the Arizona Trail passage #16 traversing the length of the slopes. As I continued south along the ridge the views to the west and south were constantly changing, providing a glimpse of wide variety of geology. It was the best variety of scenery I'd seen in such a short and relatively easy hike in a long time. I'm definitely going to bring Tracey out here when it's not
109 degrees like it was today. Me? I'm crazy enough to return no matter what the weather is.
On my return trip along the ridge I wandered a bit in hopes of finding more unique stuff like the giant centipede skeleton I found on the way to the summit but alas, I found no more. Oh well, now it's just the steep walk/slide/crawl down the drainage and back up to the AZT 16/17 connection and I'm back to the trail head.
A short break for more sustenance and it's time for the very rough, slow drive back out. I averaged a whopping 4 mph for the first few miles. I got every bit as much a work out on the drive as the two hikes, but that's part of the fun.
I posted 25 photos on HAZ with the full set of 36 photos here:
I posted a 2-minute 30-second video here:
It includes the view of AZT#16 as it traverses the slope across the canyon as well as a 360-degree panorama from the south end of the ridge of Peak 3937.