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Fremont & Doyle Peaks
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mini location map2016-08-28
25 by photographer avatarchumley
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Fremont & Doyle PeaksFlagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 28 2016
Hiking11.94 Miles 4,446 AEG
Hiking11.94 Miles   7 Hrs   20 Mns   2.20 mph
4,446 ft AEG   1 Hour   54 Mns Break
1st trip
Having previously traveled the entire north side of the San Francisco horseshoe from Agassiz, Humphreys, Abineau, and Rees to the Inner Basin, I've had the south half of the horseshoe on my radar.

With several inches of hail accumulating over the peaks on Friday and the season's first snowfall on Saturday morning, I was hoping Sunday would provide better weather. The forecast had called for clearing and drier weather earlier in the week, but the chances for storms on Sunday kept getting higher and higher as the day got closer. We decided not to let it deter us, opting instead to make a very early attempt in hopes of beating any severe weather.

So we set off toward the mountain at oh-denny-thirty with hopes of a pre-sunrise start. The peaks were shrouded in clouds in the early morning light and we didn't manage to start the ascent until a couple minutes past 6. We started at the base of Sugarloaf Peak at the east end of Lockett Meadow and headed up the closed 552B which swings around and parallels the ridge as it climbs steadily over 1.5 miles to the Waterline Road.

The next 4.5 miles of ridge hiking is off-trail until Fremont Saddle. The first half mile above Waterline was a pleasant grade before the slope got considerably steeper. At the 3 mile mark, some of steepest terrain of the day presents a challenge to getting to peak 11,060. There's a short ridge here before the final 400 foot climb to Doyle, but that ridge is a boulder field and travel is very slow. But the boulders provide relief from the pine canopy and amazing views over the Inner Basin and the peaks on the north side of the horseshoe.

The climb up Doyle from the east is pretty straightforward and when you reach the peak there's a cairn with the original (and correct) summit register placed in 1988. We signed in despite the lack of recent entries. As we pressed on toward Fremont, we encountered another cairn about 0.15 miles from the original. This also had a register. This register had recent entries. It also actually said that this register wasn't placed at the peak. Then why the :pk: did you build a cairn and put a register here? ](*,) Seriously. People are dumb. :bdh:

The perfect conical shape of Fremont stood directly before us, a very attainable 500 feet higher up. Unfortunately, to get there requires dropping 700 feet to Doyle Saddle. The descent might be the steepest terrain on the day. The climb in the opposite direction must be a real chore! We took a quick snack break at the saddle before beginning the 1200 foot climb to Fremont. It's only half a mile away! :o It was 9:45, and I made a goal of reaching the peak by 11:00. Yes, I was estimating 1:15 to go the next half mile!

The ascent up Fremont was awesome. The clouds came and went, sometimes leaving us with no view and other times opening dramatic glimpses at the other peaks. The lower part was forested before reaching a bouldery section that leads to a steep scramble with a large crux rock about 600 feet below the summit. We opted to go around to the left, but I think the right would have worked fine too. Left is softer and more forested, right is more bouldery.

The final stretch is steep and a continued combination of soft dirt, dwarfy pine trees, and small boulder fields. Staying just to the south side of the ridge seemed to provide the best route, but some zig-zagging was in order, if for no other reason than the views into the Inner Basin. Once up top, I was surprised I was unable to find a register. There's a nice shelter wall built though it was quite calm and not needed on this day. Another short break and a summit beer were in order before the final off-trail mile across the 11,673 ridge and the final descent to Fremont Saddle. Six miles in 5.5 hours! Off-trail ascents take their toll! : rambo :

From there, we cruised back to the IB, happy to be on trail again. Saw 3 people in the Inner Basin before passing a dozen or two in the lower aspen section of trail. Back to the car for the return to the valley after a very long and rewarding day!

The weather couldn't have been better. It was 42 at the trailhead when we started, and warmed somewhat in the early sun, but winter-like clouds shrouded the peaks from time to time, creating dramatic views and lighting. I don't think it ever got above 55 until we were back at the trailhead at the end of the day. The temperature and awesome clouds really made this hike as good as it could be! :y: (Not bad for August in Arizona!)

Glad to have now hit all the peaks around the Inner Basin horseshoe. The only non-direct section for me is the direct link between Fremont Saddle and Agassiz (I've taken the Weatherford traverse and the ridgeline to Agassiz from the Humphreys saddle). Not sure I'll ever do that line direct unless I decide to skin up Agassiz and ski down into Freidlein Prairie sometime. I'm sure it's been done before... :-k
Quaking Aspen
Fire Burn Area & Recovery Hail
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
Especially in the lower elevation grassy meadows.

dry Doyle Spring Dry Dry
No surface water

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Locket Meadow Tank 51-75% full 51-75% full
33s over 45s
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