|Hiking||8.40 Miles|| 7 Hrs 41 Mns ||1.17 mph|
|2,743 ft AEG|| 30 Mns Break||27 LBS Pack|
|On my Peak 3042 recon four days earlier I felt a route along the floor of the canyon from Forest Road 80 could very well be the best option. So I pored over the topo & satellite maps a bit more, planned a route with 3 options of where to ascend from the wash, of which it just so happened the least likely was closest to the trailhead and the best option was the farthest. With the route planned, I headed out the next chance I got.
Rather than start at the SRP gate on FR80, I drove down into the 'bowl' just below the road and parked next to a fire ring. From there I set out along a road of sorts for a few hundred feet to its end, then continuing along a faint trail, more like a game trail than anything else. But it was heading the direction I wanted to go so I followed it until it faded out while crossing the wash. From a hike I did 3 miles downstream 4 years ago I remembered there was a series of drops at the first corner of the wash. To avoid them I climbed to the right to a small saddle then descended a loose gravel slope back to the wash.
From there I continued along the canyon floor, rock and boulder-hopping most of the way, with some sections where I took shortcuts around corners through the few flat areas. Sometimes it wasn't worth the effort because the burrs and cats-claw were ready to crab hold of me. The burrs would be my nemesis any time I went through brushy areas.
I passed by my first, but least likely ascent route option, which may have been nice game trails higher up, the lower slope was bad news so I continued. The second option provided a few possibilities but would entail lots of back and forth, so again I continued on. But the moment I laid eyes on ascent option #3 I knew it was the best option by far. Besides, it was very close to being on a straight line the wash to Peak 3042.
So, at 1.3 miles from the TH I turned right, following a relatively wide drainage about 500' up to the ridge/saddle. Wow! The views in all directions were great, yet I sensed it was just a hint of what was to come.
With a hill immediately ahead blocking view of my planned route, I wasn't sure whether to follow the route I mapped out by satellite view or not, so took a slight detour to climb the hill for a better look. It was another nice view but I was more interested in the fact it re-affirmed my route choice. I dropped back down and curved back onto my original route, which just happened to parallel some game trails so I followed them to the next ridge, where again I ascended a smaller hill for another gander at the terrain ahead. Again I found my original route had nailed it pretty well so I decided to stop second-guessing myself and just follow the planned route, which I did until the next point where I had mapped two routes to the summit.
The first was straight up a drainage, one that satellite view didn't give me much hope, or the second option, which would have added close to a mile to the round-trip. Always seeking the shortest route, I chose the drainage. It began quite steep but after that it was just a matter of winding back and forth up and around the obstacles and it was a piece-of-cake!
Now up on the wide mesa I simply set my GPS to point the way to the summit and set off up the slope. I took a route between a prickly pear thicket on the left and a cholla forest on the right. I found it easier to go through the cholla as I didn't have to wind around as much as thorough the prickly pear. A relatively easy 300' ascent and I was up top.
I took the usual summit pan photos and videos with both my Olympus & GoPro (which I had used to film the final ascent as well), and settled in for my PB&J lunch. After the short break I wandered around the summit taking a number of photos near the edges of the flat summit. I thought of taking a lot more time wandering around some of the lower slopes, but having accomplished reaching the goal easier than expected, after I mulled over a few thoughts I decided to head back. My decision was made due to three things:
1. I'll return again soon for a more thorough look
2. I wanted to scout out a route to Black Cross Butte
3. I wanted to check out some debris I saw in the wash below where I was at 4 days earlier.
So I headed back on the same route until I hit the canyon floor 1.3 miles from the TH, where I turned the other direction. Unfortunately I didn't have the waypoint to the large piece of tinted glass or plexiglass, but figuring it was about a half-mile along the dry creek bed that seemed to be easy enough. But of course, that distance was a direct line and after a mile along the meandering creek I found I wasn't even halfway there so I turned back. But this added side trip meant I added two miles and almost two hours to the hike, and for the first time in a LONG time, I ran out of water just under 2 miles from the TH and it was getting a bit toasty.
Ok, now I'm just taking it easy, and stopping under every boulder that provided shade and a slight breeze, yet realizing the longer it took to get back the more dehydrated I'd be. So I tried to keep moving. With just a half-mile to the end my legs started to cramp bad just when I had to climb a steep slope to avoid the 40' dry fall. To finish the climb I had to pull myself up with my arms using my hiking poles. Once over that obstacle I had to focus on every step just to keep from stumbling on the rough and rocky creek bed.
It felt great to reach the Jeep... the ordeal was over, I popped open the cooler, downed a good 32 oz my mix and filling two 16 oz bottles to drink from on the drive home. Good thing, because from Tortilla Flat it was the slowest I'd EVER driven back down Apache Trail due to someone in an SUV driving 10-20 MPH ALL the way down to to Needle Vista on 88, where he proceeded to take off like a shot, well over the limit... I think he was just messing with all of us following in line behind.
But no matter, the views on the hike were awesome and made it all worthwhile, and I will be heading back soon, only with either enough fluids for an ALL-DAY hike, or stick to closer to my plan, which had been about 3 miles and 2 hours shorter. (I had enough fluid for that!)
I posted 50 photos on HAZ, the full set of 82 is on my site as usual.
Peak 3042 summit panorama video: