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Peak 3281 - Superstition Wilderness, AZ
mini location map2015-09-23
50 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Peak 3281 - Superstition Wilderness, AZ 
Peak 3281 - Superstition Wilderness, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 23 2015
Hiking5.00 Miles 1,243 AEG
Hiking5.00 Miles   4 Hrs   6 Mns   1.27 mph
1,243 ft AEG      10 Mns Break25 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Due to heavy overnight rain and the high humidity I wasn't sure I even wanted to hike today. So I dawdled, figuring I'd wait for the humidity to drop... but it didn't. Oh well, I'll quickly throw together reasonably short hike somewhere close.
Ha! "quickly throw something together" Yeah, right! :bdh:

And so the very much last-minute plan was to bag two peaks within a few miles of the First Water TH. Being just over a 5-mile loop should be easy enough, wouldn't you think? I wish...
It ended up 5 miles without coming close to peak #2. But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Leaving First Water TH at exactly 11 am it was 81° and VERY humid so I began at a leisurely pace so as not to work up a sweat. Ha! Fat chance of that... by time I reached the Dutchman/Second Water intersection I was already sweating profusely. Well I'm here, so let's get on with it!

I followed the Dutchman Trail for 1.5 miles before turning south and following one of the now-dray tributaries to First Water Creek. After all the rain that practically washed the trail clean to the bare rock, I was quite surprised that even small puddles of water was a rare sight.

Following the dry creek-bed was an exercise in rock and boulder-hopping until I said enough! and began the cross-country trek to Peak 3281. As I confronted the actual terrain, the farther up I climbed the farther from the route I had mapped out on Route Manager. Sometimes it was 'easier' to climb over a ridge, other times following the contour was better. But eventually it was a matter of just climb!... through whatever bush/tree stood in the way and climb steep boulders, slick with wet moss.

And just when I thought I was right next to the summit, I consulted my GPS only to find I was still 440 feet away, across a field of somewhat flat boulders, many with 6-foot drops in between.

Dang! So now, what do I do? Drop down 100 feet to by-pass the boulder field or take on the hazard directly? I was so drenched in sweat by now, I did NOT want to drop down and lose that hard-fought 100 feet, so I took it on! It was a good thing I got past the hazard when I did as I was getting Gumby-legs from the fear of sliding off a boulder.
Once across the boulder field I finally could see the summit... a large outcrop sticking 30-40 feet straight up above me. And I thought there's no way I can climb that! and stopped to take stock of the situation.
(See the photoset for self-portraits of me soaked in sweat... :sweat: it's now 97° and STILL humid)
After a moment to take the photos I was about to find another way back down when I noticed a small gap that would bring to to the other side of the summit, and possibly a better route?

Yes! After bulling my way through the vegetation-clogged gap I broke through into sunlight, and upon turning around, there was THE way to the summit! (I knew there had to be because I knew two people had bagged it in February 2011) Again I had to climb through more brush (slightly thornier this time) but I reached the point of the highest boulder. I would drop back down 5 feet to the relative safety of half-way level ground to film the summit pan video.
By now all I could do is cast my eyes toward Peak 3399 and say, another time, my friend, another time. But at least I got a good view and now have a better-looking route to its summit. And I would find the eastern slope of Peak 3281 to be an infinitely better and safer route than my ascent from the other side. Ok, so I still had to go through some thick brush at times, but at least I was going down.

Feeling even hotter and sweatier, I checked my GPs for a reading from the Tempe sensor and was shocked to see only 74°! Then I realized I was so thoroughly drenched with sweat even my GPS case was dripping, so in the light breeze I was sure the evaporation was causing the false reading. When I finally made it back to the Jeep I took a number of readings with my temp gun and at 3 pm it was 98°.
(The metal pipe fencing around First Water TH was 108° in the shade behind my Jeep... conduction from where it was in the sun I suppose.)

For this hike I drank 16 oz before I left home, another 16 oz at the TH before the hike, on the hike I went through all 100 oz in my CamelBak plus another 16 oz bottle, another 32 oz on the drive back home for a total of 180 ounces. That means I drank over 11 pounds of water yet STILL lost 6 pounds on the hike... the reason I HATE humidity when it accompanies warm temps.

One video:
Peak 3281 Summit Panorama
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