This intriguing and difficult to summit Benchmark Peak in our Salt River Canyon Wilderness
has been on my radar ever sense Oregon Hiker and I made our first exploratory driving and hiking trip to this area in November, 2012. Since, I have viewed this peak from a distance on a number of interesting hikes in the area.
In the last couple of months I had completed a review of the area on our HAZ-MapDEX Topo Overlay options and Satellite View along with Google Earth to plan an off-trail GPS Hiking Route to summit Jump Mountain 4878.
rather briefly analyzed the east side summit approach.. http://hikearizona.com/photo=317872
off of an old, unnumbered, and serious 4WD Road which takes off from FR645 then crosses upper Blackjack Wash then ends abruptly further up the Jump Mountain east side ridge line. I initially eliminated this option due to the difficult 4WD access road (some of which could probably be hiked) and the total driving miles/time from the PHX area required for a planned day hike to reach an acceptable Park/TH Start location. This option also appeared to me to require a serious off-trail & steep section of thick vegetation to bushwhack through (but not confirmed) before reaching the summit.
and chosen approach option route for this first hike attempt was via FR219 end at the Horseshoe Bend area of the Salt River. This planned hiking route was to be first up via two well defined area wash drainages, then an off-trail up to the summit which appeared to me on our HAZ Overview Topo Maps and Google Earth to be the preferred route in of choice..until actually viewing it in person.. http://hikearizona.com/photo=381383
This hike day in at ~2:pm Brian and I elected for safety reasons to abort this first summit hike attempt.. http://hikearizona.com/photo=381397
Lessons hopefully Learned:
.. I need more practice planning serious, remote, off-trail GPS Routes on HAZ- Satellite View & Google Earth with a sanity check required
.. I sometimes take-on more than I can handle at my age and present physical condition and this was one of those times. Me with a 25lb day pack to start and Brian with his 28lbs (8 of which was electronic equiptment for HAM- SOTA BM Peak activation), Brian was still in great physical shape for this tough hike. He needed to slow this pace down considerable waiting for me to catch up and in view. I do believe we both would have made the summit with some time to spare if I had been in better physical condition and had not stopped so often to take so many pictures.
.. This hike option in mid-December requires a much
earlier hike start than our 9:25am.
.. We both also under estimated the amount of H2O we would need to do this out and back hike
(I had 3.5 liters, Brian had 4, and we both were rationing water before reaching the vehicle)
Some smarter planning time, and a return visit for a successful summit attempt will happen