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Ramanote Arch and Ramanote Peak, AZ
mini location map2016-10-16
33 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Ramanote Arch and Ramanote Peak, AZ 
Ramanote Arch and Ramanote Peak, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 16 2016
Hiking10.04 Miles 3,868 AEG
Hiking10.04 Miles   8 Hrs   23 Mns   1.41 mph
3,868 ft AEG   1 Hour   16 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners partners
Back in August, John messaged me about doing Montana Peak. I was really excited but also really nervous. Even before officially joining HAZ about a year ago, I’ve known about John pretty much from the time I moved to AZ at the end of 2012 when I used to be primarily a ‘trail hiker’ and used HAZ to research hikes. In 2014, [after getting more serious about hiking/peak-bagging], I’d even developed an equation that proved incredibly consistent in predicting how long it would take me and my hiking partner at the time to complete hikes based on John’s times, which are very fast and very consistent. With talent and athleticism that I couldn’t have matched at the peak of my competitive running career, John was like a local celebrity to me, and he was/is always so friendly, funny, and down to earth on HAZ. I felt honored to say the least that he reached out to go on a hiking adventure with me.

We got to chatting about other awesome peaks in the area, and naturally I couldn’t resist bringing up the hike to the Natural Arch that John Montgomery discovered in Ramanote Canyon [ description ] . In addition to experiencing the exceptionally beautiful Ramanote Canyon and awesome little Arch, the very prominent and rather unique-shaped Ramanote Peak is in close proximity, [about 0.75 air miles from the Arch], and I figured this type of adventure would give John a much better ‘bang for his buck’. He agreed, and after another 2 months of waiting for the hot and stormy weather to subside, our plans finally came to fruition.

Despite the fact that having a jeep / 4x4 shaves off only about 0.35 miles RT of ‘jeep road hiking’, [and that John had about 2 hours of driving just to reach Tubac], he very kindly offered to do the carpooling from Tubac to the TH, even though I assured him my Forester was more than capable. It’s always a treat to ride in a jeep / 4x4, and John’s jeep was especially awesome, with 12+ inches of ground clearance, among other enhancements that enable travel on hardcore roads.

The first leg of the journey involves traversing the floor of the beautiful Ramanote Canyon. Although I had to step up the pace several notches, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to keep up with the pace John set. After a little over 2.25 miles, John spotted what looked like a cave a short ways up on the right [North] side of the canyon. John wanted to check it out and I was totally game. It proved to be more of an alcove vs and actual cave and was similar to those in the Supes like the Wave Cave [although on a much smaller scale]. It made for some neat photos and was a fun little stop, [but one I would not have dared to make I had been doing this solo]. The alcove would make for a perfect camp spot/overnight shelter, and from the amount of trash we saw in/around the opening, [I think John counted at least 6 pairs of socks…], it’s been used quite a bit for that purpose.

The Arch was awesome, but far more impressive was John’s incredible climbing skills… when he announced that he was going to climb on top of the Arch, I half thought he was kidding; but a split second later when he proceeded toward the base of it, I knew he meant business. It was awesome to watch but definitely freaky... with extremely crumbly, scree-like rock, coupled with an exposure factor that would make most nervous on good-gripping/non-crumbly rock, watching John climb to the top and all the way across the Arch was literally like watching a stuntman at a circus.

Next we made our way up to the ridgeline that’s located due North of the Arch, which eventually loops around and leads to Ramanote Peak. Prior to our adventure, I’d drawn up a few potential possibilities with Route Scout, but little did I realize they wouldn’t be needed. Having learned to navigate extremely well the ‘old fashion way’, John is also incredibly skilled when it comes to getting from point A to B most efficiently. It was really amazing how he could just eye the terrain and the destination points and then in a matter of seconds come up with far better routes than ones I’d taken several minutes to draw in advance using topo maps.

John’s route to the ridgeline cut off distance over the one I’d drawn, and it was incredibly fun and hardcore… and definitely something I would not have attempted, had I been solo. The ridgeline was a total blast as well. In addition to hitting up several unnamed peaks with killer views en route to Ramanote, there were also some craggy parts that made for some fun scrambling / bouldering, similar to what is found along the route from the Atascosa Lookout to Atascosa Peak. The ridgeline was extremely well routed and in places looked more like a full out trail. John seemed really surprised by this, and I couldn’t help but laugh, [thinking back to the first time I was expecting a full out bushwhack and instead encountered the same thing]… it’s actually quite a common thing down here in Southern Arizona. ;)

Ramanote Peak was awesome and definitely exceeded expectations. In addition to the exceptional views and fun route to this peak, it was a great feeling to have finally summited my #1 bucketlister among the many off-trail peaks on the West side of Tubac.

The return from Ramanote Peak was epic. I thought John’s shortcut up to the ridgeline was impressive, but his route back to the jeep took things to a whole new level. His old fashion, line-of-sight method and use of landmarks to get us back in the most efficient way possible did a lot more than merely save time/miles… thanks to a miscalculation on my part, I found myself with just a few sips of water with 1.5-2 more hours to go. Aside from the handful of times I’ve run out after having shared with others, [and on one adventure this past summer when the viral infection messed with my fluid balance], running out like this due to miscalculation was a first for me. Despite assuring John that I would be okay, he graciously proceeded to ration his remaining supply between the two of us. I felt very badly about it, [especially given that he had consumed only about 2 liters at this point while I had blasted through 4], but he was totally cool with it… and even after assuring him that he could bolt back to the jeep, he was super kind to keep waiting up for me at designated intervals / landmarks. Negotiating loose footing has always been a real weakness for me, and unlike the canyon traverse in the beginning, there was no way I could safely step up my pace enough to hang with John over the rugged terrain in the end. Luckily, he did not seem to mind. :D

John, it was awesome meeting you as well, and that adventure was epic to say the least! Hopefully there will be more to come!

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