|Hiking||10.00 Miles|| 5 Hrs 33 Mns ||1.89 mph|
|3,711 ft AEG|| 15 Mns Break||20 LBS Pack|
|As rough as this hike was described in Erik and Hank's triplogs back on Jan 31, 2009, with very little or no use over that time along with lots of rain this year, simply put this hike was brutal!
Some areas the brush was so thick it was completely impassable, causing a number of bypasses, every one of which involved more elevation gain.
But as difficult as it was physically, that was mere child's-play compared to the constant mental strain due to the never-ending hazards. Other than the first/last quarter-mile and the 15 minute break at the summit, every moment of the hike was a mental test to be fully cognizant of the hazards lurking at every foot-placement.
Here's where we can relate to Erik and Hank's hikes... At some point along the trail there was practically every kind of thorny vegetation known to Arizona, yet they paled by comparison to the two ever-present hazards...
1. Millions of prickly-pear cacti
2. Billions of loose, sharp, peach to cantaloupe-sized rocks
I'm not kidding! The rocks were a hazard EVERY step of the way, even on relatively flat ground. And no more than two steps could be taken before having to avoid a prickly-pear, some barely the size of your hand. With low grass the same color (due to the rain) it was an absolute miracle that neither of us got so much as one spine poke, not even in the boots. That's truly a record for me!
However, a hike this daunting has GOT to include at least something more than rolled ankles sometimes every hundred yards. And so it did... on the last VERY steep slope Tracey had a pile of rocks give way and her fall resulted in a 2" gash to her left shin.
A loud was her only retort before moving on down the slope.
For all the physical and mental effort and pain of the hike, I've really got to give full credit to Tracey... she was a real trooper!
Sure I don't doubt there was plenty of grumbling under her breath, but she hardly voiced a complaint... another record of some consequence. She said even a rough day hiking is better than a work day.
I'd like to think she means that means a rough day of hiking with ME!
But she does give me plenty of slack, especially after we followed the wrong cairns too long and ended up climbing all the way up and over Peak 4921 before taking a look at the GPS, only to find we were WAY off. Which happened twice... the result of which was a bunch more AEG.
But then if we didn't get off track, we would have missed the highlight of the hike... for me anyway!
And it coincided with the one other time when I could drop my vigilance of the seen and unseen hazards... when we encountered an Black-Tail Rattlesnake. It was in a patch of low holly brush that I just happened to be walking through when it rattled once. Tracey jumped well back as I didn't hesitate to I drop my hiking poles to pull out my camera before it slithered deeper into the brush.
But it didn't!
So now I'm picking up one the poles (right next to it) to try to lift it up so I could see how long it was... all the while waiting for Tracey to get her camera out to film it! But, oh no, she's having none of that!
She eventually did take a photo but I'm not sure how it turned out yet. I, on the other hand picked up the snake with one pole while taking photos and a video with the camera in the other hand... so don't complain about the wobbly video!
Unfortunately, because I didn't have my snake hook I couldn't lift it up far enough for a good photo because it had coiled its tail around a branch and wouldn't let go. Eventually I had to let it drop down, but even then I had to coax it to move for the video.
But as I said, this part of the hike had the least amount of danger of the whole hike... NO mental strain at all. For me anyway... Tracey kept her distance.
I'll post 50 of the 56 photos here on HAZ.
Black-tail Rattlesnake video is here
Panther Mountain summit panorama video is here: