The Perfect Day
Perfect Ridge, Spring Mountain Loop
Woolsey Peak dominates this landscape both in mass and height. Rising almost one thousand feet higher than neighbor peaks. Within the Woolsey Peak Wilderness, it’s the tallest. This is a big desert peak; the summit is flat with expansive surface area. Its prominent SE ridge is almost 2.5 miles from summit to valley floor. It’s height, compared to neighbors, it’s width, the fact that there is little to block your view, makes if visible from a good distance. If in Phoenix, get to a high point and look to the SW and you can see the profile of Woolsey. Years ago, when I was focusing on desert peaks, I first learned of Woolsey while talking with Bill Sewrey, the owner of Desert Mountain Sports in Phoenix. He told me, “this peak stands up all by itself.” That his first up close look came the morning after driving close to Woolsey’s north side, the night before. They camped and when the sun was coming up, he saw “this big beautiful mountain before me.” I wasted no time getting my first, up close look at Woolsey. However, it would take three, attempts for me to summit. Without luck or beta, finding a route that goes from valley floor to summit is not guaranteed on your first visit. I didn’t get any beta from Bill, I always liked to approach my desert peaks a priori.
Standing on the summit of Woolsey I surveyed the view, took film images and started my wish list. I didn’t notice the Perfect Ridge from the summit, too many other distractions. It was on a drive home from one of my trips to the wilderness, the sun was still up and I was rolling along Agua Caliente road. Looking south, deep into the wilderness through my passenger window, I spied a beautiful, linear and long ridge that ended at a delicate, pointed peak. It was the perfect ridge and required may attention, a closer look. At home I found the ridge on a map and traced its perfect line to the unnamed summit. Peak 2283 some would call it, I wouldn’t give it a name. The Perfect Ridge didn’t need a summit, it needed to continue into infinity.
Approach to the Perfect Ridge
Head south from your vehicle on the road you just drove in on. Take the left fork that heads east, crosses the wash and climbs out. Follow this road for about 0.65 mile and head east, beginning your cross-country travel, to the first low saddle at 33.1731 -112.8353. The dominant peak immediately south of your parked car is Spring Mountain. Climbing through this saddle and through/under the three-strand barbed wire fence, you are on Spring Mountain’s north ridge. Drop down from the saddle and begin to contour around the north and east slopes of Spring Mountain. Head for second low saddle at 33.1673 -112.8242 and another at 33.1590 -112.8194. Note the peak that makes up the east side of this latter saddle. A prominent profile that for the rest of the journey out and a portion of the return, can be identified and used as a guide. Travel through the valley below, heading south and climb into the saddle at 33.1488 -112.8122. Continue south through the broad valley for about 1.5 miles and prepare for your ascent of The Perfect Ridge, leaving the valley floor at 33.1333 -112.8002.
Originally my goal was to ride The Perfect Ridge, it’s full measure and spend most the day getting to and back from it. If my goal were to bag the peak that stands at 2283 feet above sea level, I would have approached from the south. This would have cut a few miles off the round-trip total of the northern approach. However, our goal today, as in the past, is to explore this wilderness as well as ride The Perfect Ridge to its zenith. This is possible seeing TPR runs uninterrupted and unambiguous, from the wash in the valley, to its high point. Step out of the wash at point 33.1333 -112.8802 and you are on The Perfect Ridge.
This ridge is enjoyable to ascend, the slope is gentle and the footing solid. The lower part is composed of granite, the upper, Basalt. About halfway, between igneous rock varieties, The Perfect Ridge is composed of reddish colored rock. Possibly the contact point of old rock and a newer layer of lava flowing and burning what is covers? Newly into the Basalt we encountered a short, cliff band which can be detoured around. We chose to climb through it, and the dogs needed no help. Closer to the end of the ridge, the cholla population increased dramatically. We were able to traverse a hidden ledge on the north side, below the ridge crest. Without dogs this would not be necessary. Our dogs are expert at avoiding cactus, they can see, however, we found several spots where the ground was covered with long ago discarded needles. These beds of hidden needles are difficult for the dogs to see. With the use of the hidden ledge and a lot of boulder hopping, we topped out and returned to the valley floor without too much cactus calamity.
Another summit register brought here by the Sierra Club, Desert Peaks Chapter, and today I’m grateful to them. I signed in on my previous two, trips up The Perfect Ridge. Both times with the red dog, Otis and Kopol, the yellow Labrador. Once with hiking partner Steve Campbell. Today is December 23, 2018, my previous trips are documented as 2003 and 2004. Probably less than a dozen entries in this register, total. I never kept a written account of these long-ago adventures so today I can add to what I remember, what I didn’t know, the dates we were here.
Finish the Spring Mountain Loop
Head back the way you came, climbing into the saddle at 33.1488 -112.8122. Time to finish the loop around Spring Mountain. Drop north into the valley ahead and begin to contour around the east and north slopes of the high ridge, to the west, into the saddle at 33.1495 -112.8269. From this saddle, contour WNW for a bit and then drop into the valley below. As with the previous valleys used getting to and from The Perfect Ridge, this one is broad and flat. Progress is made linking up the flats on either side of the wash. Great views of Spring Mountain’s south ridge come into view. Staying in this valley, traverse the west base of Spring Mountain climbing into the broad saddle at 33.1650 -112.8437. Dropping down the north side of this saddle, we stumbled upon a man-made trail which we followed for too short a distance and lost it. We didn’t waste any time trying to locate the trail, just kept heading down the drainage toward home. One last check of the maps showed a jeep trail in close proximity. Take the time to locate this old line, we did so at 33.1727 -112.844 and followed this path right back to the awaiting Tacoma.
 Notable for local Superstition Fans... Bill Sewrey on page 108 Superstition Wilderness Trails West
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.