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Monument Canyon - Tonto NF
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mini location map2016-01-30
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Monument Canyon - Tonto NFPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Jan 30 2016
Hiking10.81 Miles 4,434 AEG
Hiking10.81 Miles   10 Hrs   8 Mns   1.33 mph
4,434 ft AEG   2 Hrs    Break
1st trip
Mentally and physically, this was yet another f*@#$g epic bushwhack adventure; but the fun factor on this one was in a class of its own! This was a Peter Medal led TLC hike [bushwhack] that he cross-posted on HAZ. Given the difficulty factor, the turnout was very decent, with 10 of us in all. In addition to organizing some pretty amazing off-trail adventures, Peter does a superb job at leading them. The no handing-holding, no drama, and no B.S. on his hikes really make for a pleasant time. I actually enjoyed myself more in the company of other people vs. bushwhacking solo which is not often the case!

We kicked things off from the Mining Camp Restaurant. The plan was to head over to Monument Canyon, hit up the wreckage site, and then get up to the Ridgeline Trail via one of a few options that Peter had lined up. From there we’d pay a visit to Flat Iron and then head down Siphon Draw back over to Mining Camp.

With a 6 AM start time, the first 45 minutes or so were almost pitch dark. Even my pricy headlamp wasn’t enough to compensate for my inability to safely go at a decent pace in the dark. After several minor trips early on, [and one major one where over an inch of my hiking pole sparked up as I threw almost all my body weight into it to prevent from tumbling heard over heels], I managed to yell to the group NOT to wait for me while they were still in earshot. I guess it was time to pull my classic ‘hypotenuse vs. sides’ / ‘as the crow flies’ kind of deal. While the group had gravitated closer to the road, I stayed closer to the base of the mountain, heading at a diagonally toward Monument Canyon. It worked out perfectly; I had just enough time to pause for a few pics and peak into a mine before rejoining with them toward the beginning of the canyon.

We then headed up the rightmost drainage, [since that’s the one with most of the wreckage according to previous HAZ reports], en route to the impact site. Aside from some cat claw in the beginning, the going very easy and fun and the surrounding area was beautiful. This would definitely make my top 10 list of awesome drainages! As for the wreckage, it was really amazing to see just how much was still left. It seemed like there were pieces almost every step of the way once we reached a certain point. The impact site was awesome and definitely the focal point of the wreckage.

Next I opted for the more scenic option en route to the Ridgeline: heading to the saddle-like area between the nub (4102’) and 4648’. We noticed a ‘shelf’ that appeared to lead around 4648’ and over to the drainage that MtnBart01 used in Aug 2012 to reach the Ridgeline Trail from Monument Canyon. It was good to know the drainage had been ‘HAZ’ed’… our shelf to drainage route would put a fun twist on things, if successful. Reaching the shelf proved to be a fun, 30-60 second scramble; and once on it, we noticed a definite route that seemed too well beaten in to have been from animals alone.

The shelf was awesome, and I wish more in the group could have experienced it; but trust me when I say, it’s not for the faint of heart. Even with a fear of heights, it’s not often that Peter turns back, and he did just that due to a short section in the beginning. I thought this section was fun… but even Michael and Mike [the only others who opted for the shelf route and who can boulder hop as good if not better than me] hesitated at this section. The worst part for me was negotiating a drop toward the end, right around where the shelf joins the drainage that leads to the Ridgeline Trail. Let’s just say, even after handing Mike my hiking poles AND pack, this one drop took the best of my bouldering skills to overcome… and even then, it was super dicey. The last time I felt this challenged while bouldering was in Dec. 2014 while coming off a ledge on the brutal bushwhack to Devil’s Cashbox. Enough said!

When we connected with the drainage, it didn’t take much longer to reach the Ridgeline trail. There were many good gripping rocks in this drainage but several varieties of cactus to work around, making the going a bit slower; nothing terrible though. Upon reaching the Ridgeline Trail, we took a well deserved 20-30 minute break to rest our legs and soak in the scenery and then headed to Flat Iron. Mike pointed out another wreckage site on the Siphon Draw side, and after that we took another good rest on the side that overlooks Monument Canyon. It was pretty awesome to look down on the terrain we had bushwhacked earlier that day.

Kind of beat by that point, I was ready to head back, but Michael and Mike wanted to bag 5024’ first. Of course, I was not going to object; and I’m really glad we did it! Bagging this peak was like a fun little cool-down: tons of well-beaten in routes and tons of fun boulder hopping. To top things off, the views were some of the best of the entire adventure. Upon reaching the summit, I noticed two small dog collar tags, each in it’s own little bag that someone had left. The backs were engraved with, “I Conquered Peak 5024”. After Peak 5024’, we stopped by the two plane crash memorial sites on the Siphon Draw side before heading back down to the Mining Camp Restaurant. A few others including Peter had arrived back right around the same time. It was pretty fun exchanging stories and comparing GPS routes over dinner.
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