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Old Smokey Mountain, AZ
mini location map2014-02-01
20 by photographer avatardesert_boonie
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Old Smokey Mountain, AZ 
Old Smokey Mountain, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Feb 01 2014
desert_boonie
Hiking7.70 Miles 2,036 AEG
Hiking7.70 Miles   5 Hrs   45 Mns   2.05 mph
2,036 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
With the winter weather so perfect it was time to head on out to the Kofa Mountains and do a trip I have been thinking about for the last year or more. For anyone who has been out this way and up the more popular Signal Peak you have seen this gem of a mountain along with several others that just beg to be bagged. Well it was finally go time for me, headed on out west in the early morning and got to the area at sunrise and drove on into the Kofa Queen Canyon as far as the road will take you up to the old mine. The drive in is pretty rocky which also told me I need some new bushings on the Jeep soon.

The early morning start provided me with a chilling wind that did not stop for the duration of the day which made this trip perfect in the direct sunlight and behind any wind block, to a bone chilling making me curse as I bundle up in the shade and in the middle of the gusting wind. From the mine I set off east in the wash and traversed to the prominent fork in the wash which led me into the heart of the Kofas. It wasn't too long before I had a towering peak hovering over my head which wasn't on the agenda for the day but gave me one of the best views in the house. That peak was Squaw Peak and boy is she pretty. Another turn in the rocky and sandy wash gave me my first sight of Old Smokey and the puzzle for getting up her had started to be solved.

Arriving at the base from the wash I notice a horrible brush covered wash going up or a steep scree chute leading towards the saddle where I wanted to get, the choice was easy as I hate brush. Boy did I start to second guess myself in a few places, this scree chute is one of the steepest and loose sides of a mountain I have ever been on. The gusting wind did not help as there was no place to hide from it, mother nature wasn't going to make this an easy trek that was for sure. Arriving at the saddle I was able to get a block from the wind and get my first view to the west of Signal Peak and the massive rock area all around her. Wow what a view. I look up at the remaining portion up Old Smokey and thought it was going to be easy. Off the saddle and up I went and back into the gusting wind, but it didn't matter now as I knew I was close to the summit, I get to a rock base and knew the top was above it and had to find my place to get up, I see an opening in the rock and a nice steep ramp forming, I found my way. HOLY CRAP! As I climb up onto the ramp I immediately see the other side which is a sheer drop of hundreds of feet. I turn away from that view and focus on the sharp, narrow, one of if not the most exposed ridge I've ever been on and am forced to pull a straddle move as the wind didn't help either blowing me in the direction of exposure. The adrenaline was pumping now and after a few double checking my foot and hand placing moves I was on the summit. Without question one of the best summits in AZ I have been on and also one of the best views I have been lucky enough to see. The drop off on this summit is amazing, makes you not want to go back down because you know what you are faced with. With such a small summit there was no escaping the bone chilling wind. I had 3 layers on and that wasn't enough when I was motionless. It didn't matter at the time as I felt compelled to stay up there as long as I could. I bust out the summit brew and did something I have never done before, didn't drink it. I had to be focused for the down climb and told myself I would drink it below out of the wind and in the warm sun. After my time on the summit it was time to get down, nothing like cold hands that could no longer feel the rock on a portion like this. I did my slowest 20 foot descent of all time and was back to stable ground. What a rush.

With my body pumping I decided to go head back and on up another peak in the area which wouldn't offer anything like this. What she did offer was me being stuck in a patch of catsclaw and if even I thought my cursing at the wind was bad before this would have offended anyone in the area, I thin this is why I didn't see any bighorns today. After losing a pint of blood I was able to make the summit and from there would drink my brews and look for a much better way down. The views from up here are amazing as well as seeing the entire Kofa range and much much more was the perfect feel for the day. I was in no more pain, just the cold wind which I knew once down from this mountain I would be out of. On the way out I decided to check out the old mine area and to my surprise found a dangerously exposed shaft. Filling in most of the way but still a 20 foot drop was there with loose gravel around which had me out of that area in no time. There did appear to be a very stable wood ladder in there though. :)

Back to the Jeep and the rocky drive out, once out of the canyon I pulled off the road to enjoy the view of the Kofa.
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"Never Satisfied"
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