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Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Winter 2013, AZ
mini location map2013-01-13
30 by photographer avatarRandal_Schulhauser
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Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Winter 2013, AZ 
Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Winter 2013, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 13 2013
Randal_Schulhauser
Hiking9.25 Miles 2,895 AEG
Hiking9.25 Miles   7 Hrs   15 Mns   1.28 mph
2,895 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Winter Chill 2013


The Organ Pipe/Cabeza Prieta/Barry M. Goldwater Range trio has always been a special place for me - a destination that conjures up images of the "wild-wild west" with an element of danger in an area of totally unique geology, flora, and fauna found nowhere else in the world.

ORPI => http://www.nps.gov/orpi/index.htm
Cabeza Prieta => http://www.fws.gov/southwest/refuges/ar ... index.html
BMGR => http://www.luke.af.mil/library/factshee ... sp?id=5062

A trek along the El Camino del Diablo (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=642 ) provides an opportunity to traverse the ORPI/CPNWR/BMGR trio. Although we weren't able to pull off a "birthday weekend" trek along El Camino, we did pull off the next best thing - a "birthday weekend" viewing of El Camino and surroundings from the highest vantage point - Mt. Ajo Peak (check out => http://www.peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=4116 and http://www.summitpost.org/mount-ajo/151379#chapter_5 ).

A 6:45am rendezvous at the Ahwatukee Einstein's Bagels for an eye-opener and some morning eats and we were on the road by 7am. The pre-dawn temperature of 27degF seen on my truck thermometer was probably the lowest I've ever seen leaving my house for a hike. Needless to say we were prepared for a winter hike fit for US/Canada border destination - not the US/Mexico border destination we were headed towards!

We made the ORPI Visitor's Center around 9:30am to purchase my annual NPS pass (check out => http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm ) and we were soon bouncing our way along Ajo Mountain Drive towards the trail head. With this being Jeff Cherry's first desert hiking trek, we had multiple stops taking in the choice sights. By the time we were able to start our ascent of Mt. Ajo, it was 10:30am. As per usual, we agreed on a hard-stop turnaround time - 2:30pm - to avoid a treacherous return in darkness on a moonless night.

We arrived at Bull Pasture a little after 11:30am were we lingered a bit and lightened our backpack load eating and drinking a good portion of the weight. We finished the steep scree ascent topped out by "the whale" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=229212 ) a little after 1pm arriving at the summit 2:30pm sharp - our designated turnaround time. We couldn't resist squeezing in a few extra minutes to suck-up those stunning 360 degree views, sign the summit register in the ammo box, and ponder the purpose of the nearby solar powered antenna. Even picked out some of the landmarks along the El Camino del Diablo from this vantage! I should point out that the low temperatures took the charge out of my camera battery (had to warm them up in my hands many times just to get a shot).

The descent went as planned - 3 segments each doable in 1 hour chunks (summit to "the whale" in 1 hour; "the whale" to Bull Pasture signage in 1 hour; Bull Pasture to the TH in 1 hour). We broke out the BBQ to grill some brats with some choice beverages and snacks at the trail head. As the sun disappeared, so did the comfortable temperatures. We had to retreat to the cab of the F-150 and crank up the heater before we could finish our last brat and have dessert. We packed-up and readied for the return home drive. As my truck transitioned from the gravel of Ajo Mountain Drive to Hwy 85, my truck thermometer indicated 31degF and 7pm.

It should be noted that as we exited ORPI and stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint, it marked our first human encounter of the day since I purchased my NPS pass earlier that morning. Photos to follow (when I get the chance)...
Named place
Named place
Bull Pasture Mount Ajo
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Randal_Schulhau's
485 Photosets

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