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Four Peaks Mother Lode
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mini location map2012-06-02
15 by photographer avatarRickVincent
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Four Peaks Mother LodePhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking7.80 Miles 4,060 AEG
Hiking7.80 Miles   10 Hrs   30 Mns   0.74 mph
4,060 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked   none no linked trail guides
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This is not hiking. This is something completely different. I must have been crazy to jump into this with both feet, especially without any previous experience on the mountain. I'm glad I did.

What initially looked like a two-man adventure, myself and my friend Dean from Pittsburgh, became a trio with a last minute arrival by Bob (rlrjamy). Bob showed up at 4:50am looking like a mountain saint dressed in white. Dean and I had camped out on the mountain the night before.

I was already awake when Bob arrived. Dean popped out a few moments later. Bob was ready to go and was patient as Dean and I gathered up our packs and prepared for the epic trek. Upon seeing Dean in shorts, Bob said something to Dean like, "You must not like your legs." A short explanation of the coming bushwhacks convinced Dean that long pants were a good idea.

Bob set quite a pace. Dean and I did our best to keep up. Bob said we were doing great, but I could tell he is capable of much faster. My legs felt like jelly before we reached Brown's Peak. The steep climb up into the chute was just what I needed. Now I could shift some of the work to my upper body. We arrived on top of Peak 1 (Brown's). Bob searched unsuccessfully for the peak register. Dean and I posed with my Terrible Towel (Go Steelers!) for a few pics and we moved on to Peak 2.

The route to Peak 2 went by fairly quickly. I wasn't paying attention to the time, but it seemed like about 30 minutes peak to peak. I remember one of the first downclimbs that put me in a bit of an uncomfortable position. A long slick slope left me hanging for a moment without any real good footholds. Where were my climbing shoes when I needed them? I was able to twist my body into an awkward position and shift my position over towards a thorny-leafed bush which provided a couple of solid branches for hand holds. I made my way down the slope and continued on.

It somewhere around Peak 2 (maybe slightly before or just after) that I began experiencing mild leg cramping in my quads. I've dealt with it before and would just deal with it again. The route to Peak 3 was long and tough. Fun scrambles, scary downclimbs and some great opportunities to practice rockclimbing skills. Leg cramps continued to haunt me, but seemed to remain at bay. Bob was always on point and was able to iron out the good routes from the bad. Today, he was more like a guide than a hiking partner. All I can say is, "Thank you Bob, We may not have made it this far without you."

My thirst to reach Peak 3 was big. Too big maybe, as I was disappointed on at least 2 occasions to realize we had only reached another false peak. But, the low angle and sometimes vertical climbs were fun and challenging. Sore legs limited some of my movements, but couldn't stop me.

We reached peak 3, took a short break for some pics and started our descent towards 4. Bob seemed less than pleased with the route choice, but we were moving forward and closer to our goal. One downclimb was particularly interesting. Bob took a route that offered very little hand or footholds. About half way down he mentioned that maybe this route was not a good idea. Dean immediately opted for the thorny bush route which tore him up a good bit. I think I found the best route, and wow was it fun. An easy traverse across a 4 inch wide ledge led me to a long diagonal downward sloping crack that led all the way down to the flat ground below. The crack varied from 3/4" to 1.5". There were no footholds below. It was all upper body, shifting my hands across the crack (like monkey bars in elementary school) until I was able to drop safely. Meanwhile, Dean was still battling through the bushes.

This downclimb led us into a sloping rock field of loose basketball-size boulders which cost me my only injury of the day. I made a poorly placed step that ended up lodging my ankle between two boulders. I felt one of the boulders stab into a nerve below my ankle. This sent a burning streak of pain from my big toe up into my thigh. I sat down and waited for the burn to subside and slowly turn to a feeling of pins and needles. Within 2-3 minutes I was back on my feet and chasing after Bob and Dean.

It may not have been the preferred route, but we made it to the slope leading up towards peak 4. The Mother Lode was now within our grasp. Bob was probably already there, and Dean and I knew that the only right way from here was up. We celebrated for just a few moments on top of 4, snapped a few pics and continued back down the same slope.

Dean heard a snake rattling in the bushes on the way down. Bob was already further down the slope and reminded Dean that the snakes usually only get the 2nd guy. Not very comforting for Dean, who often seemed to be "that second guy". When Dean yelled out snake, I believe that Bob's response was something like this, "What do you want me to do about it?" Good answer. Dean waited for me to catch up and I passed through the area of concern, thereby taking the 2nd guy honors from Dean.

I was ready for the boulder hopping to be over and was pleased when we reached the Amethyst Mine trail. I figured the hardest part was behind us. I figured wrong. My legs were zapped and just wanted to shut down. Here we had reached the easiest part, a mostly flat trail, and I had nothing left. Bob pushed forward and Dean hung back with me. It wasn't easy, but every step forward was a step closer to the trailhead.

We finally caught up to Bob at the saddle. Bob had taken a moment to nap/relax until Dean and I arrived. Reaching the saddle gave me a new found strength. The gentle breeze in my back also helped. The three of us wrapped up the last stretch as a group, reaching the trailhead 10.5 hours after we had started.

We topped off the trip with a delicious pizza dinner at Big Daddy's. Great recommendation Bob. Dean and I said goodbye to Bob, and then headed on up towards Pine for a good night's rest before our next day adventure, kayaking on East Clear Creek.
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This is my gym. I have to travel down a bumpy road to get there. There are no treadmillls, no machines, and no personal trainers. I walk..I run..I breathe the fresh air. I can go any time I want, as much as I want and there is no membership fee.
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