Another day I simply had no idea where I was going to hike until 30 minutes before heading out, and even then I almost changed my mind as I passed the turn to First Water... but I kept going up to FR 1821.
The belated plan was to start just off Apache Trail from FR 1821, head west up Peak 2289, on to Peak 2631 then follow the ridge to Peak 2669, which I had climbed mid-June back in 2013. From there I hoped to descend to Bagley Flat and return on the same general route.
But that 'plan' lasted all of 5 minutes... the moment I hit Willow Creek and looked up at 2289 I didn't like the route I had mapped out.
Ok, so I'll head out on the 'trail' toward Horns of Dilemma then swing south to catch the ridge.
But instead, I kept going along the wash to the northwest, by now thinking I may just wander out a ways before swinging north up Peak 2178, which I had climbed late February last year. I remembered the awesome views from there so figured it was a worthy second-choice.
However, I was so engrossed in following the wash I missed my turn to 2178. It took way more effort than I expected to keep going in the wash, dropping down or detouring numerous pour-offs (relatively small at this point), pushing through the thick & thorny vegetation, several times having to climb quite some distance and drop back down to avoid the worst the wash had to offer.
Ok, so I missed the turn to 2178, I might as well continue on to the Salt River then maybe catch 2178 on the return leg. When I got about as close to the Salt as safely possible, I took a glance across toward Peak 2669 and wondered if I should go over there after all, at least for a view over Bagley Flat.
Let's do it... off toward 2669. That worked until I realized it took me 20 minutes just to cross two deep drainages and there were 2 more before 2669. Although the day started cool, the humidity again was enough to take its toll.
Forget 2669, just continue up the 2nd drainage up and over the ridge then make a bee-line for Horns of Dilemma and end this fiasco. Wait! It's close but slightly premature. Ascending this drainage was way worse than anything I had already encountered but with high walls on either side I was committed. Committed until I reached a 60-70' foot pour-off (I couldn't tell because I couldn't see the top of it.) and there simply was no going further up the drainage. Ok, NOW it's officially a fiasco.
This would cause the first change NOT solely of my doing but as a result of conditions forced on me. What do I do? Option 1: Go all the way back down and across the two drainages and back the way I came?
Option 2: Find a way up the slightly less steep eastern slope and hope for a route around to the south, as I knew it was a very steep slope down to the original wash I was in.
By now I had gone through all my food and fluids so one would think I should choose Option 1, the devil-I-knew over the one I didn't. However, the devil-I-knew, only this time heading back upstream was not something I cared to do, so I chose the devil-I-didn't-know and hoped for the best.
Ok, let's go for it... It was so steep and loose, numerous times I slid down 5-10 feet while attempting to gain another foot or two. It wasn't a walk-in-the-park by any means, but what a relief when I finally made it up and found it possible to continue east along the upper slope. Although not as steep, it was very bit as treacherous as the loose pea-gravel on the hard surface rendered my hiking poles practically useless. But I can see the Horns of Dilemma now so I figured I've got it made.
Huh? What's this? An arch I knew nothing about? Well I do now.
I took a few photos and kept moving. Climbing a bit more to follow the ridge back down past Horns, at which point I just followed the trail used by most folks on the way to Horns.
Done! I was so dry-mouthed by time I made it back to the Jeep, the 64 oz of cold drink mix went down pretty fast... almost all the way through it before I got home.
and my left ankle took a beating again but when hiking, all's well that ends well