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DESTINATION
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman Glade
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mini location map2016-02-03
15 by photographer avatarJim_H
photographer avatar
 
Humphreys Summit via Dutchman GladeFlagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Snowshoeing avatar Feb 03 2016
Jim_H
Snowshoeing5.50 Miles 3,380 AEG
Snowshoeing5.50 Miles   6 Hrs   40 Mns   0.93 mph
3,380 ft AEG      45 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Just like old times, but not quite. It has been nearly 5 years since I last did this route, and it has been 4 years since I last snowshoed in alpine conditions in the San Juan Mountains. I am no longer used to the cold. Heat is more fun, anyway. Cold was the hardest part, as it made my time above tree line something I have zero desire to repeat anytime soon. It really wasn't bad for wind, but this was not a mild winter day, either. I think it was in the single digits on the summit, perhaps so for my entire time above treeline. I conclude this based on how it felt breathing in and how my nose hair felt (from how it felt when the air was below 10 when I lived here) and how quickly my hands stopped working after going numb when I took my gloves off, in the relatively gentle wind.

My 95th summit was pretty good as the air was clean, dry, and long distance views were fantastic. The usual objects of my affection were observed, with the Pine Valley Mountains, Paria, Echo, and Vermilion Cliffs looking good. Navajo MT, Black Mesa, and the Henry Mountains rounded out the north views, with the Whites, Matazals, and Sedona monuments to the south. Once again, it was super cold, so I didn't stay long for me, just 20 minutes. Did I really do this often in these conditions? I might have liked to stay, to enjoy later day sun, and long shadows on the features to the north, but I was cold!

Down is always easier than up, and the 4 and 1/2 hours of total time up, including 15 minutes for lunch, was only 2 hours and 10 minutes or so down. The snow is not what I think it should be with Snowbowl reporting a 32 inch storm total. I was left asking, "where is it?". Above treeline, the winds have scoured most snow away in places, as is normal, but below it was pretty thin. Drifts left some areas in the mid-11,000' range with some depth, but so often there was nothing there. That can be normal. However, in the trees and Dutchman, a foot was often optimistic for the new depth. I found that more often than not, I was not plowing through deep powder, but breaking through a fairly modest depth and having the crampon on my snowshoe bite into the crusted layer underneath. Also, there are a decent number of rocks protruding in the Dutchman. Skiers have been out in droves, too, so a powder experience, this was not. This is not to say it was a bad day, I just had high hopes with the 32 inch report, and I felt my descent was more enjoyable back in November, of all times.

I did enjoy this, but with much of my gear worn out completely or wearing out, the distance to hike this, and the COLD involved yesterday, I prefer to hike it in summer conditions, except for the crowds and the distance views. I will definitely NOT being repeating things like my February 2011 Whitney hike, or my overnight at Black Bear Pass in January of 2012. Maybe a hike up Camelback when it is 114? Oh, I did that, and it was easier to handle (at times)!
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