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Brown's Peak
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mini location map2006-01-05
10 by photographer avatarvampyro
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Brown's PeakPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 05 2006
Hiking4.50 Miles 1,957 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   3 Hrs   22 Mns   4 Secs1.34 mph
1,957 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Caution: If you have a rather strong fear of heights, stop reading.....

Yesterday, in a fit of stupidity, I looked up from the front yard of my east valley home and decided that this would be a great day to hike the mountain furthest in the distance, Four Peaks. It just stares at me every day and I guess it finally suckered me in. So I packed up some gear, GPS, camera, sunblock and made a 10am run for the Beeline.

Hearing all the horror stories about FR143, I decided to shoot past and up to Hwy 188, over to Roosevelt Lake (with a quick stop for pringles in Punkin Center) and then make the approach to 4Peaks from El Oso Rd. What everyone has failed to mention however is that El Oso Rd., while quite scenic and well-maintained, is one hellacious drive on a single-lane dirt road with blind curves and big drop-offs and no guard rails. Now call me a sissy if you'd like, but I do have one major, MAJOR fear: a fear of heights (which really doesn't bode well for hiking in general)! And even though this 12-mile route was graded well, I still had to grip the steering wheel with both sweaty hands and try not to look down or up or over. And then let's not even begin to talk about the big Yukon and my Impala nearly rendezvousing on one of those blind curves. Not good...well, at least not for a big sissy like me.

Anyhow, I did FINALLY make it to the Lone Pine trailhead a little past noon and started up the Brown's Peak trail (#133) under a blustery sky. As a matter of fact, the wind gusts were pretty intense and dictated some of my journey (atleast made my ears cold).
The trek from the trailhead to Brown's Saddle was relatively easy and the trail is simple to follow. I've never walked through a burn-out area before, so I kept one eye on the scene around me and the other eye on the looming peak in the distance (which gave me quite the headache, making my eyes do that and all). ...Reached the saddle in just over an hour and then the scree chute in half that time. At this point I wasn't completely sure I was even going to make the attempt up the chute. Guess I thought that I would just cozy on up to it and see if it asked me my sign or bought me a drink or something.... Well, it did, so I started up.

The first half of the chute is alright, nothing too terribly unmanageable. I put on my Safeway gloves (seriously, I bought them at Safeway) and used my hands to make my way up. The 2nd half of the chute began for me at the first smaller rock wall and was much more challenging. Thank goodness that I am 6' 3" and that my fingers hit the ground when I walk---Because it makes it so much easier to navigate these big step-ups (I have no idea how a dwarf would handle this). My biggest problem, again, is in trying to conquer this fear of heights. Each time I would look down the chute, past a wall I had just climbed, I would say to myself: Vampyro, how are you going to get down?!? Of course, I didn't have an answer, but the pull to keep going kept overriding any sense at that point. And when I reached and prodded myself up over that 15 foot section of wall, well, I had quickly turned into a near hyperventilating idiot. It took 3 or 4 gut-checks by the way to talk my way up over that wall. This basic fear of being high and at the edge can be quite overwhelming sometimes.
Nevertheless, I did make it through the tough sections of the chute and finally topped out at the small saddle. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the wind was really gusting and as I started up that last leg to the peak, I decided for my safety (!) to call it off---But not before I spied a few lost ladybugs, one landing upon my shoulder.

...After a few pringles, some pics and a couple prayers of encouragement, I started back down. And for the first time in my extensive hiking history I literally had to talk myself off the mountain. The steepness of the chute was much more intimidating looking at it from above than from below IMHO. And after watching a couple loose rocks slipped from under me and fall 500 feet below, I realized that this was personally going to be the safest climb down ever. My greatest anxiety was coming back upon that 15 foot section of near-vertical rock and figuring out the correct way to get past it without falling. And once I solved my foot and hand holds, the anxieties were basically gone.....until the next smaller rock wall. Eventually, with some serious care, I made it back to solid footing and out of the chute. Whew, that was a wild ride.... Now all I have to worry about is that pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin El Oso Road with it's wily curves and beautiful views :sweat:

Good luck with this one, fellow hikers. I left a dime on a rock next to the tree with the orange marker on it---It's yours. And for those of you who wish to conquer your fear of heights, stay away altogether.....Go to the local school playground and sit on the monkey bars instead.
Am I disappointed at falling short of reaching the highest peak in Maricopa Cnty? At this point I will be more than happy to glance up at Four Peaks from my yard, sitting in a chair, staying put. :roll:
"One foot in front of the other. One foot back to counter it." -From 'Avalanche' by Matthew Good
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