register help
show related photosets
165 Photosets

1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7 ... 9  
Sierra Prieta Trifecta, AZ
mini location map2016-07-23
78 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
photographer avatar
page 1   2   3   4   5   6
Sierra Prieta Trifecta, AZ 
Sierra Prieta Trifecta, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 23 2016
Hiking8.98 Miles 2,793 AEG
Hiking8.98 Miles   4 Hrs   50 Mns   2.36 mph
2,793 ft AEG   1 Hour   2 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
I may have struck out yesterday in terms of a successful summit hike, but with today’s trifecta, [nicely executed in loop-fashion], I struck gold. Like the previous day, I was also in a time crunch and also in an area where I knew there could be potential issues with private property / access / rough dirt roads, yet the outcome was luckily very different. Aside from losing no more than 5 minutes after taking two turns down roads that didn’t pan out, I successfully navigated to one of the places I’d marked as a potential access point. And to top things off, I was able to drive a short distance passed where I anticipated having to park, [something that does not happen very often].

While most of the “trails” proved to be jeep roads, the endless opportunities to bushwhack made this a super fun adventure. After a combination of hiking up jeep roads & bushwhacking, I soon reached the SW ridge of Porter Mountain, the first of three summits on my list for this Sierra Parieta trifecta. While one can stick to the trail and save the bushwhacking for the very end, the extremely favorable terrain, [no brush + soft, pine-covered slopes], made this a fun one to leave the trail early and simply go barreling up the ridge. The views from the summit are just awesome, and I had a blast climbing the fun looking tree that is situated right by the highpoint. I wasn’t able to find a register or a survey marker though. At one point near the summit, I heard a loud, frightened cry and before I even had time to react [or get out of the way of almost get trampled], I stared in disbelief as a poor fawn that I inadvertently scared half to death leapt up from the patch of grass it had been sleeping in about two feet in front of me. I’ve never been that close to a deer or fawn before and it was pretty cool to see.

Next up was West Spruce Mountain. I bushwhacked off Porter, continuing along the SW ridge, and then angled NW when the ridge intersected with the one that would lead me to West Spruce. I could have taken trail for part of the way, but the bushwacking was so incredibly easy and fun that there was no need. I did encounter some patches of thick brush [Manzanita and something else that I don’t know the name of during the first part of the ascent up West Spruce], but it was the ‘feast or famine’ type of brush, with patches so thick that you’re simply not getting through, surrounded by patches of completely bald hillside. With a little patience, [something I usually don’t have much of when approaching a summit], it didn’t take long before I worked my way through / around the brushy patches and to the summit. As I gained elevation, I noticed there appeared to be some better options than the one(s) I selected… but anyone whose attempted to follow my bushwhacking routes can attest to the fact that I have a tendency to tackle brush head-on. :D The views from the highpoint of West Spruce are blocked by trees, but there are several viewpoints near the highpoint that offer awesome views. I was unable to find a register on West Spruce but right near the highpoint, I found a shiny, gold-colored survey marker.

Last but certainly not least was Sugarload Mountain. Coming off of West Spruce, my sense of direction got a bit turned, and I ended up bushwhacking about 180 degrees from the direction I intended, which added some extra mileage on the “trail” [dirt road]. Given that I wanted to hit double-digit mileage for the day, it work out in my favor… but it was definitely a ‘saved yet again by Route Scout!’ kind of moment when I realized my mistake. Although a couple miles away, reaching Sugarloaf was a breeze, given that the going was very fast on the jeep road, especially in combination with a loss of nearly 600’ over the first mile, from the 7,000’+ summit of West Spruce to a low point of around 6,450’. The summit of Sugarloaf has awesome views, with larger, more distant mountains to the front [North-ish] and the many ridgelines / peaks of other taller mountains in the Sierra Prietas to the back [South-ish]. Sugarloaf actually has two prominent points and if approaching from the South as I did, the taller one is reached first… although being covered in thick Manzanita and other brush, the second prominent point with low grass and some rocks to rest on was a lot more enjoyable.

After hitting up both summits of Sugarloaf, I proceeded to bushwhack to a fun-looking prominent point on its SW ridge that doesn’t even have a UN number on the topo. Nonetheless, it was tons of fun and gave me a bit more of the challenge I was looking for, having to blast through brush / figure out where the bald spots were in between. Next, I bushwacked down onto a jeep road that looped around by a mine I wanted to check out. Although the opening had been filled in, it was still really neat. In completing my loop on/around Sugarloaf, I then headed a short distance back toward the highpoint; [cuz in checking my route, I noticed that I failed to hit the higher contour mark by the highpoint]. This time, noticing a faint route though the sea of Manzanita, I ended up approaching from a different side. While I never found a summit register or survey marker, I got a good laugh at the small cairn that someone had constructed right smack in the middle of where the route “touches” the highpoint. Even with the faint route, the brush is so thick that I probably would’ve tripped over the cairn had I not been looking down in search of a register, survey marker, or some other sign signifying the highpoint.

For the remainder of the trip, I was on autopilot mode as I stayed on the trail [jeep road] for most of the way back. The several hundred foot climb back up toward West Spruce was a breeze compared to the death-march I endured the previous weekend during my Pinaleno trifecta. And at only ~9 miles RT [vs. 15+ miles the previous weekend], I was not running on empty this time with 4 liters of water, which allowed me to attack the uphill in my normal fashion.
HAZ Member
153 Photosets

1,  2,  3,  4,  5,  6,  7,  8  
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
help comment issue

end of page marker