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Apache Peak & Oracle Hills x2, AZ
mini location map2016-10-01
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Apache Peak & Oracle Hills x2, AZ 
Apache Peak & Oracle Hills x2, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 01 2016
Hiking12.53 Miles 3,387 AEG
Hiking12.53 Miles   5 Hrs   45 Mns   2.62 mph
3,387 ft AEG      58 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
For the past several weeks, I’ve been staying super local, knocking off peaks that don’t require more than about 5-25 miles of driving one-way. There are still tons of peaks in the 5-25 mile one-way drive radius from Tubac that I have yet to bag, but I’m not gonna be able to knock them all off in the next 31 days before I move out of Tubac. And besides, with my Forester still in the shop… [who would’ve thought 1+ week for a flat tire…!?!], it was a golden opportunity to capitalize on the freebie mileage with ‘Loaner Subie’ and knock off some stuff a little farther away.

Pineal County’s highest summit, [just over 80 miles of driving one-way] fit the bill quite well. Additionally, I planned to knock off 4-5 other little nearby summits but unfortunately slept in and didn’t start until just before noon; and found myself totally out of daylight. Nonetheless, I managed to bag 2-3 peaks: Apache, followed by BOTH Oracle Hills… I’m really not sure whether to count this as two summits or three. Just like the confusion and subsequent 2nd ‘Guthrie Mountain’ on the South side of the Catalinas, there appears to be a similar phenomenon going on with Oracle Hill on the North side. According to both Cal and FS Topo maps, Oracle Hill is 5,174’; however, unlike the Guthries, [both of which are recognized as separate summits on listofjohn (pay $ite)], a quick LoJ search for Oracle Hill revealed that only the higher point [5,300’] on the ridgeline is recognized as the summit. The 5,174’ Oracle Hill summit is located approximately 0.55 air miles from the 5,300’ summit; while in the case of the Guthries, the two summits are located just under 1.50 air miles apart.

At any rate, my first objective was the bigger gun: Pineal County’s highest summit [aka Apache Peak]. Kicking things off from the lower Oracle Ridge TH, the first 4+ miles was a very fast traverse up the Oracle Ridge Trail #1, which then joins with a segment of the Arizona Trail. This is an incredibly beautiful area, and I really enjoyed being able to cruise on autopilot while soaking up the scenery. As the trail neared the peak, [instead of bounding up in my usual fashion], I decided to contour by staying on the trail a bit longer in hopes of finding a less brushy / less rocky slope. While the brush / boulders were mild from a trailblazing perspective, I was hoping for a little better in terms of the visibility, given that the snakes are still out. There were definitely more than a few moments on both the ascent and descent where I found myself scanning the terrain as best as possible, using a trekking pole to test the grassy spots and areas with lots of spaces beneath & between the boulders, and taking some ‘leaps of faith’; but luckily no snake encounters.

The views from Apache Peak are very beautiful! There is a summit register by the highpoint that goes back to 2001, and the last sign-in from this year was July 2nd, 2016. After enjoying the views, I did my classic, ‘up and over,’ coming down a different part of the peak than the side I ascended. Although there were a few boulder crags that looked as if they could potentially cliff out, I had a feeling I’d be good to go based on how well routed the NW ridgeline is; and sure enough, I was down from peak and back on the trail in no time, and headed toward my next destination: the Oracle Hills.

Actually, now that I think of it, I made a very quick stop at UN 5,466’, which is practically right on the trail, and then continued on toward the Oracle Hills. About 0.82 miles up the Oracle Ridge #1 Trail from the Lower Oracle Ridge TH, there is a trail/jeep road on the West side that leads right up to the base of the 5,174’ Oracle Hill summit. After departing from the jeep road, it was just under 1/3 of a mile to this summit. There is a register, which is located right by a survey marker that says, “Oracle Hill”. The views are also quite beautiful… and I actually enjoyed them even more than the views from Apache.

Next up was the 5,300’ Oracle Hill. While there were definitely some spots with much less than ideal visibility, there were also some very sweet routes for much of the way, which made the going pretty quick. I didn’t see any survey markers atop the 5,300’ Oracle Hill, [but then again the summit was pretty brushy and I didn’t devote much effort into looking]. Heading Southward along the short summit ridge, I came across what looked like an ‘O’ that people built out of rocks. While it’s possible the O-shapped ring served as a fire-ring at one time or another, I did not see any soot and the ‘O-shape’ looked a little too perfect; so I’m guessing, O is for Oracle. Just a few steps South of the O ring is the summit cairn & register, which was placed in July 15th 2000 after the previous register was apparently melted in the Oracle Ridge Fire. I couldn’t help but laugh at the comments of a few who signed and wrote, ‘both Oracle Hills’. I noted something similar by my name as well. The views from the 5,300’ Oracle Hill Summit were my favorite of the day, and looking though my photos, the ones from that summit are also some of the days best.

Arriving back at the TH, I was thrilled to have logged 12.53 miles AND to have lots more gas in the tank… so I proceeded to drive down the road to get closer to a few other small summits in the area in hopes of knocking them off before dark. No such luck, but I did manage to log the extra 3+ miles I needed to bring my weekly total to just over 50.0. 8)
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