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Granite Mountain Peak 7626Prescott, AZ
Prescott, AZ
Hiking avatar May 08 2016
Hiking10.66 Miles 2,874 AEG
Hiking10.66 Miles   5 Hrs   6 Mns   2.60 mph
2,874 ft AEG   1 Hour    Break
1st trip
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Originally I was planning a trifecta [7626’, 7185’, & 7295’] and hoping to log 12-15 miles. For multiple reasons, I fell short of the mark, [hitting only the highpoint (7626’) & logging only 10.66 miles]; but I still thoroughly enjoyed myself.

After struggling for a good five minutes to pay the parking fee, [or should I say getting the envelope with my money through the narrow slot... [ photo ] enough said! :D], I kicked things off from the Metate TH. Before setting off to bag the peaks, I decided to take a stroll around Granite Basin Lake, which was just beautiful. I saw at least 7 species of birds and was not even attempting to ‘bird watch’; I can’t imagine the number of species a “birder” w/ binoculars would find.

After looping around the lake via an unofficial but extremely well beaten route, I reconnected with the Granite Mountain Trail #261, [which is in excellent condition compared to many of the super rocky trails I’m used to]. The first 1-2 miles of this practically flat trail has almost no rocks. Given that I’ve had an exhausting several weeks, [and am not quite in the great shape I was in at the end of March before taking time off], I thoroughly enjoyed the easy start.

Around Blair Pass, the trail begins to ascend steeply for about 1.3 miles, at which point beautiful views open up as Granite Mountain Saddle is reached. Sidetracked by the amazing views, I inadvertently strayed off trail down a very well beaten in path. When the path rather suddenly petered out, I realized I was off trail, consulted Route Scout topo, and opted for a short bushwhack over retracing my steps to get back on track. While the bushwhacking was easy and visibility was excellent, there were a few freaky moments when I suddenly heard ANGRY buzzing and saw a swarming bee a few feet away. It sounded just like the angry bee that stung me one week earlier… luckily, this bee respected the fact that I immediately hauled pumpkin away from it, and a few seconds later the sound of buzzing was gone and the bee did not pursue.

Shortly after rejoining the trail, I passed the turn for 7185’, [which is summit that the official trail goes to]. Wanting to knock off the higher [and likely more challenging] 7626’ first, I continued onward, [at this point following a fairly well beaten route]… although given that the mountain has many 7,000’ summits / prominent points, [and that there are multiple routes leading not only to the highpoint but to these other peaks/prominent points as well], I was extremely thankful that Route Scout topo did not act up!

The initial route to 7626' is relatively flat, but after a few minutes, you'll arrive at the base of the boulders that lead to the peak. At this point, [with the many possibilities/route options for reaching 7626'], it turns into a boulder hopping free-for-all. 8) My final approach to the highpoint was from the East, [which I don’t recommend if you have a fear of heights/exposure and/or have never done a Class 4 climb or consider Class 3 to be anything other than 'extremely easy']. Bouldering is my forte, so I had a blast and did not feel out of my comfort zone… however, there were a couple of moments where I found myself strictly adhering to the ‘3 points of contact’ rule… which usually translates to “no f’ing dice!” for the average hiker.

As I neared the summit and suddenly had clear views to the North, thoughts of exploring some of the other 7,000’ peaks/boulder crags went out the window. Despite blue skies overhead, a dark ‘patch’ of virga that was very close was moving in fast from the North; and in the distance, [both to the North and in several other directions], dark clouds loomed.

I signed the registered, took some photos, and admired the views very briefly before getting the hell out of Dodge. Given the weather conditions, the more challenging route I had opted for on the ascent lost it’s appeal, but based on the many signatures in the register, I knew there had to be an easier way down. I noticed a much more beaten in route from the other direction and was on it!

Since enjoying the scenery is usually a top priority, I don’t often kick things into high gear... but with the dark clouds closing in, I hauled pumpkin down! Midway down the bouldering portion, the cloud cover slammed the mountain. Preparing to get drenched and freeze my tail off the rest of the way back, I almost laughed out loud as I got hit with hail instead of rain.

Given that: 7626’ gave me a decent enough pumpkin kicking, I still had more personal biz to attend to, AND the skies did not look like they were clearing up any time soon, I decided to pack it in and head back to the TH. The Granite Mountain area is a beautiful, boulder hopper’s paradise, and I will definitely be back to get 7185’, 7295’, and explore the many other awesome looking peaks/prominent points. No trifecta this time, but I still had a hella good time!
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Sorry, I'm not good with flower names.. see my photoset; I tried to capture one of every color. :)
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