|Pinyon Mountain 5268 via FR 49, AZ|
|Pinyon Mountain 5268 via FR 49, AZ|| |
Pinyon Mountain 5268 via FR 49, AZ
|Hiking||3.90 Miles|| 4 Hrs ||1.04 mph|
|2,841 ft AEG|| 15 Mns Break||20 LBS Pack|
||no linked trail guides|
|I've had a number of peaks in this area on my to-do list for far too long so it was about time I got started. Although I had routes to seven separate peaks in hand when I left home, as is the norm I had no concrete plans of which one to start with, how many to do and in what order. I just let my mind run through the various options while on the early morning drive up Apache Trail and once I reached the first 'decision' point I chose to drive to the very end of Forest Road 49 and start off the day with Pinyon Mountain, the longest hike and steepest ascents of all my options.
But before the hike comes the drive to get there.
The first mile or so from AZ 88 on Forest Road 49 was easy enough following a relatively smooth wash. That would change in a hurry. Shortly after passing by Sweetheart Peak on the left began a steep climb... I say 'a' steep climb because what I thought was going to be a steep climb was just a warm-up for what was to come.
What-was-to-come promptly popped up its ugly head at the 1.8 mile point. Man did that look STEEP!
At the last spot to turn-around for as far as I could see, looking ahead I noticed a number of tire tracks on the hill. Taking another look I could see the vehicle had been stopped when it lost traction, followed by a few more attempts using different lines, with the third attempt being successful.
Not wanting to repeat the previous vehicle's experience... backing down the hill and trying again, I got out for some boots-on-the-ground recon to choose the ONE BEST line. I hadn't gone but a few feet before losing traction, with my boots sliding right back down the loose pea-gravel surface. Reduced pretty much to crawling on all fours, I only continued a hundred feet or so before realizing the only way I'd know if I could drive up was to go-for-it.
With well-worn tires on the rear and somewhat better on the front along with the fact I just realized I hadn't aired-down the tires for best traction I engaged both lockers and began the slow crawl up the hill, weaving as needed to avoid the deepest ruts although I had no choice in a few spots. Being so steep I wouldn't have been able to see where I was going looking over the hood, which made it a good thing I had the under-front-bumper camera. Being very cautious and making prudent line choices I made it past the worst of it. (Photos of the 'road' will be in my Deer Hill photoset)
But with another 4.3 miles of VERY rough and eroded FR49 I had no time to breathe easy. The next segment took me along a narrow ledge with the odd fallen boulder here and there, a few meant driving right up to the edge to get around, but a few completely blocked the road. Thankfully in both cases they were tall enough I could nudge them with my front bumper just enough to get by. (One of the boulders would not be there on my return trip so I figured it fell over the edge)
Although I averaged over 15 mph for the first fourth of the drive while in the smooth wash, by time I reached the end of the 6 mile drive the overall average was less than 5 mph.
Whew! The drive alone provided enough stress and even effort that I had to take a breather before beginning the climb. After the breather I could see the 'road' went a little farther still... down a slope and back up that I sure didn't feel like adding to the hike so I drove on until all that was left was a fence ahead of a cliff. Time to hit the trail...
After all the drama of the drive, any steep & scary climbs that may have given me pause on another day didn't phase me at all. Hmmm, maybe I need to scar myself half to death before the hikes then I won't worry as much about injuring myself far from any help? I don't think so!
Finally to the hike...
1. Steep climb around/through large boulders, brush, holly, cats-claw and some Manzanita thrown in.
2. Stroll across a long saddle, watching every step to avoid falling when a loose rock hidden in the tall grass rolls over.
3. Slightly less steep climb with less brush.
4. Steep drop down (little brush, plenty of loose rock) to the last saddle before Pinyon Mountain.
5. Steep climb up the northern slope of Pinyon Mountain through the area burned by the fire. Should be easier but the many 2-3" stubs of burned Manzanita were all too easy to trip on when camouflaged by all the dirt, soot and ash.
The Summit! I took note of Hank's comment in the summit log mentioning it was windy, but windy simply cannot describe what it felt like. I figured 45-50 mph winds with even higher gusts as I was unable to stand without the aid of my hiking poles, and even with them I was blown over once. Good thing the summit wasn't just one small pointed rock to stand on or I probably wouldn't have bothered with photos or video. After a number of takes I figured there was no sense in trying and just settled with what I had.
Ok, time to reverse the order and take it 5-4-3-2-1, only what were descents are now ascents, and the ascents are descents. But not so fast... With hopes to avoid the last steep descent to the TH, I thought I'd try and end-around staying at the same topo elevation line. Ha! so much for thinking!
I came to steep rock outcrop where I had to either climb or drop down to avoid. Because dropping down would still mean another climb later through an area I was unfamiliar with, I chose to climb and reconnect with the route I was familiar with.
By time I finished the hike I was way more tired than anticipated. By following the route I did, the AEG was over double what Route Manager planned route estimated. Of course I did not follow that route.
Anyway, it didn't take me a few minutes to plan the rest of the day... two EASY peaks from halfway back along FR 49. (Spoiler: both will be easy, one will include blood)
By now I've taken enough time to write this novel that I'll simply post all 44 photos here on HAZ. (The first few photos were taken along Apache Trail near Apache Lake)
Pinyon Mountain summit panorama videos are here: