With Tracey having a free weekend we loaded up the Cherokee for an over-nighter and set off early Saturday morning. With a host of Forest Road GPS tracks but no hiking tracks this was to be a weekend of come-what-may.
Bear Head Mountain was first on the list, and we hoped to drive FR875 as far as possible before resorting to hoofing it. While I am in complete agreement with Preston's comments about Forest Un-Road
875 (see Preston's Picture Mountain hike description & triplogs), we managed to drive to within .2 mile of the Picture Mountain summit. Drive truly wasn't the word I'd use, it was more like clawing up the hill.
(See the separate FR875 triplog http://hikearizona.com/triplog=80402
for the gory details)
We started our hike from not much more than a stone's-throw from Picture Mountain summit. It wasn't until we had hiked over the second hill on the way that we realized this was the scene of a fire not long ago. (Now I know it was part of 5,200 acres burned in the Mistake Peak fire this last August.) But this was actually a blessing-in-disguise for a number of reasons, no bush-whacking through Manzanita and assorted brush, we got to walk a mile or more along a graded fire-break and the final treat, at least in my eyes is the surreal beauty that shows itself after a fire.
There were charred tree & Manzanita skeletons, piles of white ash where large trees were completely devoured by the flames and the dimpled rocks, fractured from within due to expansion from the intense heat. Although there was plenty of room to roam between the black and metallic-gray tree skeletons, inevitably I managed to gain black streaks at random angles on my used-to-be white hiking pants. (No worries, a little Spray-and-Wash and they are white again)
At the summit we could see the burned-out area of Malicious Gap and Lion Spring as well as across the way to Copper Mountain, which was on the list for tomorrow. (The plan was for it to be our afternoon hike today, but that was only if we could have driven the length of FR 875.)
On the return trip we took a half-mile detour to the summit of Peak 6504 just north of the remains of FR 875. This was the only part of the hike where we had to bushwhack as it was just outside the confines of the August fire. The terrain wasn't too enclosed so the bushwhacking was more seeking out a better route than pushing through tight brush. (That will come tomorrow!) After reaching Peak 6504 summit we headed back to reconnect to our track. During this part of the hike we encountered a skull of a deer with a 7-point rack as well as the scattered remains of the skeleton.
Once back to the Cherokee, Tracey was pretty well wiped out so it meant my jaunt to Picture Mountain summit would be solo. No sweat, as long as I got to use her new camera as mine was having 'lens errors'.
Hmmm, I may have to break the bank for a new camera as well.
I posted a 2-1/2 minute video from the summit of Bear Head Mountain here:
I posted 50 photos here on HAZ, the full set of 67 photos are here: