I decided to crash Joe and Bruce's saturday hike this week. I met up with Bruce around 6:00 AM near Country Club and US-60. Joe ended up having vehicle troubles and had to bail last minute.
We started around 7:30 AM at Rogers Trough, and cruised up to Reavis Saddle. We ran into an AZT thru hiker on the way up and had a quick chat. We turned off Reavis Ranch 109 South at the appropriate spot and started heading up a drainage towards White Mountain. Nice and easy for the first little bit, then our route had us leaving the drainage, and the fight with manzanita/oak hell began.
On the summit of White Mountain we took a break and enjoyed the views. Bruce signed us in on the summit log. It was a little cloudy but the view on top was still pretty amazing, I can only imagine what it looks like on a crisp, clear day. I will be back again for this one. Getting to this point wasn't too bad, it felt like we were making pretty good time. I looked at RS, saw we had "only" 10 miles left, and told Bruce something along the lines of: "I think we will make it back in about 5 hours." Wrong!
We left the summit and headed down the mountain towards Rough Canyon. The brush was much more forgiving on this side of the mountain, but the slopes were loose rocks instead. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect with Rough Canyon, I just knew it was off trail and the name made it sound a little intimidating. The canopy of pines and sycamores at the start of the canyon was a cool little spot. Plenty of nice spots to camp that look like they've never been touched.
Eventually the canyon walls start to rise and you find yourself in the creek bed more often than not. Then a series of falls start and you'll be choosing whether to scramble down or skirt up and around the falls. The going got really slow. Along the way, Bruce decided to take a quick dunk in one of the pools to cool off, and about a quarter mile later I decided to do it as well.
I kept looking at RS after what felt like a mile and usually found we had only gone about a quarter of a mile... So much for that 5 hour estimate.
By the time we reached Frog Tanks I was pretty sore and I was starting to bonk. Rough Canyon used some muscles I don't use very often, and for much longer than I usually use them. We enjoyed a break at the intersection of Rough Canyon and Rogers Canyon before starting the ascent back up Rogers to the TH. It felt like it was going to be a slog, but I was just happy to be back on a trail by this point. One foot in front of the other is all that was required now.
We ran into 2 groups of backpackers at Angel Basin, and then another group further up the trail who were headlighting into Angel Basin. I finally caught a good second wind just before the Rogers Canyon/Reavis Ranch JCT, but I still finished feeling pretty sore. We finished around 8:20 PM.
If you just look at mileage and AEG this hike doesn't seem too difficult, but this is the hardest 17 miles and 4000ft I've worked for in a long time. I was telling Bruce on the way out I wasn't sure if I was going to come back again for Rough Canyon, but after looking at pictures of this canyon in the fall, and the ruins (we didn't look too hard), I think I'll have to come back again sometime.
Great hike with great company!