|Peak 4285 - Hewitt Ridge, AZ|
|Peak 4285 - Hewitt Ridge, AZ|| |
Peak 4285 - Hewitt Ridge, AZ
|Hiking||3.80 Miles|| 4 Hrs 37 Mns ||0.87 mph|
|1,919 ft AEG|| 15 Mns Break||20 LBS Pack|
|Being 6 months since bagging Hackberry Butte it was time to hit a few more summits along Hewitt Ridge. I mapped out a number of possible routes for four separate peaks, leaving the decision as to how many and which ones until I had a chance for another first-hand look at the terrain.
As I passed my designated TH for the first one, somehow it looked a lot worse than the bare stats of gaining 1,000 feet in a half-mile hike. So I kept going on FR172 until the Byous Butte TH, where I still had to decide which peak or peaks to hit and by which of three different routes.
After a few minutes to saddle-up I had yet to make any specific decision but at least all three routes began the same way. This would turn into a novel if I were to go into specifics (one involving bees again), but suffice to say, within a quarter-mile enough weird/scary things happened that I quickly gained a sense of foreboding... and not of the positive kind.
I had but one fleeting thought of calling it quits and picking a different hike but instead, I decided to press on, taking it slower and being ultra-careful.
Although only 85°, with 66% humidity by time I had gone half a mile I was already soaked from head-to-toe in sweat... which just heightened the sense of foreboding. At this rate, bagging even the closest peak I would easily go through what I had in my CamelBak and I'd be into my still-frozen emergency 16 oz bottle on the return.
So I decided to climb only to the first ridge then turn it into a recon hike... take a quick look around, scan for the best ascent routes and call it a day, while continuing to be very cautious. Ascending as slow as I've ever climbed, each time I lost footing or the ground slid out from under me the foreboding grew even more... I stopped and asked myself why am I so spooked? I really couldn't give myself a rational answer, so about 3/4 mile left to reach the saddle, again I told myself that's where I'd turn back.
But once I reached the saddle I saw a reasonably-reached, rounded peak across the canyon ahead of me, and realized being halfway between 2 of the 3 peaks on my list it would be ideal to scan for the best ascent routes. Looking at Hewitt Ridge North... well I really didn't like the looks of it, and certainly on this day it was way too much to tackle.
However, when I turned around to look northward, I realized Peak 4285 was practically a walk-in-the-park from here. Being hidden from view most of the hike, I had thought it was farther away and more rugged terrain, but now it was a quick jaunt across a flat saddle, choosing the easiest of numerous route options and I'd be there. No foreboding here... and barely 10 minutes later I'm on the summit. Only a few entries in the summit log (No HAZ'ers yet) so I dutifully added mine.
There was a pretty good-sized reasonably-flat boulder on the summit that I thought would be a perfect spot to shoot my summit pan photos and video, but once I stepped onto it that sense of foreboding returned in a flash... Easing toward the edge I looked down some 350-400 feet and immediately decided to step back and shoot from another boulder... not quite as wide but if I fell it would be a foot or two, not 350.
I shot the photos and video, dropped down to a flat opening and sat down for lunch... after removing most of my clothes and hanging them on some bushes to dry (somewhat anyway) in the brisk wind. Even though 96° by now it felt pretty good. Even though It would be 103° by time I got back to the TH, with the humidity dropping fast and the continuing breeze it felt no worse. I finished the last of my fluids within a 100 feet of the Jeep and of course plenty more in the 12 V cooler.
As to the sense of foreboding... I have no idea why it was so strong, but with a bit of over-vigilance I made it back safely, and that's all that counts. Although it did give me pause, I'm glad I continued on as the views were well worth it.
Speaking of that I took advantage of the many great photo opportunities so hopefully a 50-photo set won't bore you.
Peak 4285 summit panorama video is here: