|Inner Basin #29 - Doyle Saddle, AZ|
|Inner Basin #29 - Doyle Saddle, AZ|| |
Inner Basin #29 - Doyle Saddle, AZ
|Hiking||11.55 Miles|| 7 Hrs 50 Mns ||2.39 mph|
|2,902 ft AEG|| 3 Hrs Break|
|Had planned a Monday hike for us and Wendy in the Catalinas but decided since Wendy just got back from working a river trip, it might be more fun to do the Lemmon Loop hike as a backpack another time. So Kelly and I decided to head north.
The road from the pavement to the TH was a surprise due to its narrowness and its elevation climb. No one had really mentioned anything about the road so already our day was off to an exciting start.
The first part of the hike is certainly what we expected. I was dreading the 2350 foot climb in this altitude but I was determined to do it and with Kelly along, she would make sure I did. Within about a mile we entered the aspen forest. We expected groves, not a forest . OMG! OMG! We just couldn't get over it. I don't think I've ever been in an aspen forest where you can do one 360 after another for over a mile. The forest was thick with aspen trunks shooting out of a base of green grass. We couldn't quit exclaiming about it the entire rest of the trip.
The switchbacks are simply lovely; not too short, too steep or too long. Of course they may have seemed that way because we were gawking so much! We hiked on the Waterline Road for awhile past the green buildings and the dripping spigot before hiking UP the road into the Inner Basin by a spring house area. Such nice little digs too. I thot the little propane tanks by the buildings were cool.
On the road before reaching the basin area, we did encounter a few hikers. And once we topped out, talk about views all over the place . Just fantastic!!! We were now in a place we had only seen from above. And in front of me was the very cool Weatherford Trl on Agassiz side. It just looks like the coolest trail up there.
We took a fuel break at the bus stop before making our way deeper into the Basin and still enamoured by the views of Rees, Abineau/Aubineau, Humphreys, Agassiz, Fremont (Kelly is from there in NE) and Doyle peaks. The trail would narrow and as we were hiking along Kelly noticed these red-colored pine cones high up in the fir trees. Soon we realized they were on most of the fir trees here. I don't recall seeing red pine cones before. We worked hard at getting some good pictures of what we thot was a cool phenomenon and this kept us entertained for awhile .
The trail narrowed some more and was a bit more rocky. It was a steady climb from here. I like to keep my head down on this type of stuff as the distance seems shorter. Kelly spotted some snow and then a little further up some more snow. Decided I should sit on this one snow bank as it was high enough for me. I got some practice with snow in time for my trip to Glacier Park in about two weeks.
Soon I see Kelly pulling off to the side, she was grabbing some pine cones for me to squash.... get my mind off the UP. She did that a couple times today, it's just such a cool sound. (and then the next day I saw the pic of the sugar pine cone Todd posted- OMG!) Anyway, up and up and up we went; only stopping a few times for me to catch my breath.
Finally we reached the sign that meant we only had 1/4 mile to go to reach Weatherford. Little did I know how STEEP this section was going to be. And there's much less air now too. However, the trail was in the forest and quite nice... thank goodness.
The other group we had seen earlier quickly passed us except for one of the female hikers. She stopped and visited with us for a quick moment. They are in training for an event in CO. She was one of those type hikers that would stop, catch her breath, and then was off like a jack rabbit going up the trail.
I had to stop a few times on this section too and the last 4 steps to the Weatherford were pretty tough. Kelly high-fived me and then we ended up high-fiving the last hiker of the other group that made it. They said they were pretty impressed with us being up there after just coming up from Phx. Well that made me feel pretty good .
Kelly had asked me if I'd like to try for one of the saddles. I was pretty hungry but if Kelly was willing to get me there, I would follow. She discussed it with a few of the other group as to which saddle would be better and they all agreed Doyle figuring that both were about 3/4 mile away with Fremont upward and Doyle downward.
I'm so glad Kelly decided she wanted to do this as we were rewarded with even more stunning views as we made our way east. And besides, I've always wanted to hike the Weatherford (though I have my desire on that top section) Trail so this was my chance. As we rounded a corner we came to a section where there looked to be some fresh rock fall across the trail. From here I could see the saddle and guessed it to be 1/2 mile away yet. But the trail looked relatively flat.
Kelly struck out ahead as she does on occasion so she can give me the shout out that the desination is "coming right up". I continued on the corner below the big chute and admiring the beauty of the area as I came into the treed section before seeing Kelly at the saddle. The views were magnificent and then I saw the camping spot I had seen in other pictures and read about in other trip reports. It was perfect for us too.
Took awhile to get my 1/2 sandwich down so we didn't get going again for 30 minutes. Kelly had me walk a little bit down the trail so that I could see Mt Elden. I couldn't believe how much lower it seemed. I got a few pics and tried to soak in the moment of being on this saddle before it was time to hike on down the trail. It was just as cool hiking back to the junction with Inner Basin. We encountered a hiker there who said his other pals had headed for Humphreys. It was almost 3. Kelly suggested he go and wait for them at Fremont Saddle and he gladly took that suggestion.
Now it was time to make this steep part of the trail MINE so I hiked down it joyously. Once at the bottom of this section or maybe before, Kelly made me hike point. I don't like point but this way I can't dally. That rocky section seeemed longer on the way down as did other sections of the trail. It was a lovely afternoon as we avoided most of the distractions (did find a couple - tree stumps and other things) back to the bus stop.
We encountered additional hikers on their way up but I suspect most of them would be turning at the bus stop area. We would turn and look back from time to time before we ended up going down the road. At the green pumphouse area is where we encountered the hiker who apparently was looking for a short cut. Kelly tried to figure out the story and provide guidance. We would later giver her a ride over to Schultz Tank TH.
And just around the corner was the fun part again. The aspen forest...it was even prettier now with even more intriguing shadows. We found ourselves taking pictures at practically every bend of the switchbacks. It was really glorious. I thot we had walked about 2 miles thru the aspen forest but it is only a mile and worth every step . We continued to make fools of ourselves with our oooohhhhing and awwwwiing. It's almost a good thing the aspen forest ends within a mile so that we could get back to our senses.
We noticed different things in the light on our trip down. Things we didn't even notice before... I think a lot of it cuz we were talking or looking the other way. In no time we were back at the TH to have our beer: Kelly an A&W 10 calorie beer and me, a huckleberry cream ale.
We were going to take our passenger on the 420 but it was closed so we had to go back out on the highway and go in on Elden Spring Road to get her back to the Schultz TH (by the way, a lot nicer road coming in from the east side vs the way we went out west. I had heard this west side road was awful and they aren't kidding. Tonto was not pleased ).
We checked out the map of the Dry Hills in the kiosk area before going on our way on that nasty road. It was good to hit pavement. We both decided we'd stop at Bunhuggers and were happy with our burgers but not the fired zucchini. We both remembered the zucchini as being great but not this time.
Our last hurrah was driving home when Kelly spotted the ginormous moon over the mountain on our left. It was a fleeting moment in time as eventually we ducked down below the mountain and when we saw the moon again, it was covered by clouds but the glow it created was astonishing.
This was a nice practice hike for Dawson Pass in Glacier Park. Thanks Kelly for a great day and getting up that trail. It's a struggle but for some reason, it was not as hard as I thot... except those last 4 steps onto the Weatherford. Let's do it again sometime.
Here is the link to the videos:
Video 1 from the TH through the aspen forest to Inner Basin bus stop: http://youtu.be/254JRSXSsCI
Video 2 from Inner Basin to Weatherford Trail, Weatherford to Doyle Saddle and back to Lockett Meadow: http://youtu.be/q-VKHCmrx-Y
|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.