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Sheep Mountain 3567 Recon, AZ
mini location map2014-12-19
50 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Sheep Mountain 3567 Recon, AZ 
Sheep Mountain 3567 Recon, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Dec 19 2014
CannondaleKid
Hiking8.20 Miles 3,678 AEG
Hiking8.20 Miles   7 Hrs      1.21 mph
3,678 ft AEG      15 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routes
Partners none no partners
It was over 18 months ago when I did my first Sheep Mountain (3567) recon hike so it was high time I got with the program. On the previous recon I was stopped by sheer cliffs and by time I figured out another route I had run out of time. With the knowledge gained from that hike I planned about the most direct route possible from about 3 miles out on Forest Road 401A.

Pretty much everything went according to plan except...
1. After a hike-less 7 days I felt lethargic with the aches & pains from inactivity
2. As a result of #1 I got a late start
3. FR 401A was in tough shape so the drive was longer than expected

So... by now I figured reaching the summit was out so I'd use this as a more thorough recon. If I managed to reach the summit, great! If not, there's always next time.

Also, by time I had gone 100 yards I knew it was not going to be an easy hike... my hiking poles were still at home and with all the ups & downs (the downs being the real knee killers) I already debated on turning around and doing an easier hike. But no... I wasn't going to let that rough drive go to waste, so let's make the best of it.

Thankfully by the second down-climb I had found an old Saguaro rib just about the right length to use as my hiking pole. Although it slipped a few times where my regular pole would not have, it worked out better than expected even though it was almost 3" shorter by the end of the hike.

So far my planned route was working to perfection... until beginning the actual climb of Sheep Mountain from the west. Unfortunately I had based my ascent route on Joe B's first Sheep Mountain hike... which meant when I reached a point almost directly below the summit, the track continued some distance farther southeast before turning back toward the summit. Based on the extra distance left to go and feeling just a bit low on energy, I decided to turn back and use the time for some random exploration along the lower western slope.

Only when I got far enough down was I able to see a much shorter route to the summit. If I'd known that earlier I'm sure I would have made the effort to reach the summit, but now well down the slope I was not about to try it today. But I took notes for the next (and hopefully final) attempt at Sheep.

Of course only after I get home do I dig around and notice Joe's Official Route takes the exact route I now felt would be best. If only I'd used that route instead of Joe's first. Oh well, live and learn.
:whistle:
But at least the hike got me out of the lethargic state and got me fired up for hopefully seven days straight of hiking before the next hike-less seven days.

Whoops! Almost forgot...
On the return leg just as I was traversing the lower western slope of Sheep Mountain I thought I found a new replacement for my Saguaro rib/hiking pole, only to realize it was a Gopher Snake sunning itself. Being in the mid 50's at the time it was a bit of a surprise. I took just enough time for a photo and a one-minute video and continued on. And that would be the only excitement of the day.

Two videos:
1. Sheep Mountain western slope panorama video
2. Gopher Snake video
Fauna
Fauna
Gopher Snake
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CannondaleKid
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