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mini location map2013-03-23
73 by photographer avatartibber
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Mount Ajo PeakSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 23 2013
Hiking8.16 Miles 2,825 AEG
Hiking8.16 Miles   9 Hrs   32 Mns   1.65 mph
2,825 ft AEG   4 Hrs   36 Mns Break
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I am writing this report on 4/5/2013: Can't believe I'm doing this one again. It's not the easiest hike in the world but I would be curious to see how I would do vs 3 years ago. It went well except for my legs. I decided this year I would expose my legs to some sun :) . Well this is fine if you have a well manicured trail but once we got to Bull Pasture, the only manicuring that was going on was to my legs. And of course, silly me, I decided to tough it out rather than putting the pant legs back on :doh: . Almost two weeks later my legs are starting to heal up nicely. Lesson learned.

It was going to be a hazy day so we wouldn't get to see the Sea. The brittlebush had just started and in the morning light, that and some of the other wildflowers and of course the Organ Pipe were magnificent. I didn't realize the origin of that name Organ Pipe but according to the paper from the Visitors Center: "early settlers who encountered dead cacti were reminded of church pipe organs and called these cacti organ pipes".

All 3 of us are picture takers so it didn't take long to get distracted over and over again as we winded our way up Bull Pasture Trail. Once you got about 1 mile in as you turn the corner to that one section, it gets even more grand. There's that little section of puffy jumpin' cholla and then as you go a little higher the brittle bush and in the distance to the west, a sagauro covered hillside. We would enjoy smatterings of other wildflowers and cacti along the way as well.

The temp seemed about right. I think we were lucky in that regard. It is definitely a bit of a climb to the pasture but not so bad when you're taking lots of pictures and video. We barely rested here as we made our way:
    to the right side of Bull Pasture then around the bend and
    head along the other side of the Pasture before
    turning to the right past the first arch
    and then the slippery scree climb

to the now... wait for it.... FALLEN arch :o :o :o . The same Arch that Wendy and John had climbed/fallen into on our trip 3 years ago. This Arch had to have fallen between Randal's last visit in January this year and our visit. OMG! still can't get over it.

Now that we are near Tier 3 of our climb, it was starting to get a bit toasty as we traversed this west side toward our few fake summits. I think, like most ridgelines, this is always entertaining as there is so much to see. We lost our way once where we ended up on top of one of the humps instead of to the east side but it wasn't that big of a problem as it looked like others had made the same mistake :? .

One of our cohorts wanted to stop when we were about 10 minutes from the Peak so we could have lunch before that climb. So we had our lunch and I had part of my beer overlooking one of the grassy areas that had some cholla and junipers growing. Next up, Mount Ajo. It was a quick trip and then scramble up to the top. Fortunately, this time the wind was only gusting so we got to sit down and enjoy the Peak. Even though the haze was still thick, you could still see pretty far. We signed in and I finished my beer. I found this almost perfect cutout in the rock to put my behind in and actually lay back for a 5 minute cat nap.

Alas it was time to go. We made our way down the ridgeline which at times can be precarious and rested just before the Arch scree. At the Arch, Wendy went and investigated the big boulder that had fallen from it. We discovered that the inside had crystallized in a few spots. We paid our respects and then slip-slided our way down the scree. It didn't seem quite as bad as last time but it did seem quite as long :sweat: .

About one third of the way into Bull Pasture, Wendy and Derrick decided we would wait a bit for the sun to get lower so that when you round the corner on the Bull Pasture Trail, your photo ops will be better quality. It's just that it was a little warm but oh well. As we were heading down the drainage below the pasture Wendy asked me if I could zoom and see if that was water that she saw and sure enough, it was. There was another area (where we had crossed at the top of the pasture) where we had spotted water and at this lower section, though quite a distance, there was a lot of water.

That first 1/2 mile or so coming down from Bull Pasture seemed long until we finally got to the photogenic section. Well guess what happened? If you guess full-on "tibbermode", you would be correct. And it didn't stop until we rounded the section past the red rock formation and puffy chollas. The photo-taking didn't engage again until we got to the bottom with all the Organ Pipe and chain chollas being bathed in late afternoon light. Alas we made it to Tonto, changed our shoes and then drove back to camp with very large smiles on our faces. ANOTHER glorious day in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

Two videos mostly from the trek up to Mount Ajo with a little bit of the trek down as far as the fallen Arch. and as always for the best quality, watch them in HD.
johnr1 Throwing a Wendy
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination.
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.
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