|Webster Mountain - Inspiration Quad, AZ|
|Webster Mountain - Inspiration Quad, AZ|| |
Webster Mountain - Inspiration Quad, AZ
|Hiking||4.30 Miles|| 4 Hrs ||1.12 mph|
|1,844 ft AEG|| 10 Mns Break||25 LBS Pack|
||no linked trail guides|
|The plan for today was to bag Flat Top Mountain and Barnes Peak and do some recon for an upcoming separate ascents of Sleeping Beauty and Webster Mountain. I chose Flat Top and Barnes because both should be relatively easy due using old roads for part of the ascents.
But after Flat Top I decided to drive a bit closer to Webster for some recon because I hadn't had a chance to map out any possible ascents. I drove as far up the wash as I could, then, well, for those who know me... I'm already here, it's barely a mile to the summit, I should be able to knock it out and still drive over to Barnes, besides, how bad can it be?
How bad, you ask? In one word? BAD!
Way steeper than it looked...
The vegetation was way thicker and thornier than anything I'd encountered in some time...
The old-growth holly and Manzanita in tandem made for some pretty bad and bloody bruises...
All the daggers from blooming onion to large agave, thankfully only one deep poke in the right thigh...
MANY dead-ends on what appeared to be game trails, so back-tracking was almost constant...
Climbed 40 feet up bare rock boulders, only to be a few inches short of the next one... back-track again!
I was reduced to crawling through a tunnel of overgrowth for the last 100 feet to reach the eastern ridge...
The last half-mile to the ridge I was slower than a tortoise at a whopping .3 MPH...
Whew! Now on the ridge, even though still thick, at least there were old cow-paths to follow. The UsGS Webster benchmark and reference marks were quite visible and within 50 feet. Having taken so long for the 1-mile trip and more driving recon to do I took a short PB&J break then pondered the route for the return leg.
1. Follow the ridge farther back and drop down in a slightly more open but steeper area?
2. Descend the gentler south slope and wind around the bottom, following a completely unknown route and possibly doubling the distance?
I changed my mind at least a hundred times while traversing the ridge back until decision time... One look at the steep brush-clogged slope and one down the gentler slope, I chose easier.
I would pay in spades for that choice... while the descent was straight-forward, following the wash toward Myberg Basin quickly turned from boulder-hopping to thrashing through brush. At least until I found a cow-path that kept me away from the worst of it. But like the game trails on the ascent, I soon came to a true dead-end and back-tracked in hopes of finding the path continue. The only path I could find was climbing back up again, but with no other choice I took it.
Yes! This looks like a real cow-path now... but wait a minute... all of a sudden these cows had either been very skinny, or they danced over the Manzanita and holly, leaving me in the same situation as on my ascent... fighting every step of the way. Eventually it ended at a steep drainage that had seen enough water flow it was completely free of vegetation and even better, soft yet grippy terrain... my ticket to freedom at last!
One more short climb and another descent in a similar drainage and the hike to and from hell over! Too late for any more recon today, time to hit the road. The drive back on the US 60 wasn't bad until Top-of-the-World when I came upon the line of vehicles behind what ended up to be a small Ford SUV with California plates holding up the procession. Hew must have been scared to death of the winding road because he was going anywhere from 40 down to 25 mph on the '50 MPH' marked corners. He finally turned off at the west end of Superior to go back 'downtown Superior'. Free again?
No such luck... I had a Prius in front of me so even though the two-way was 65 MPH from Superior to the divided highway, 55 mph was more than enough to get my 40 MPG thank you... I noticed it didn't speed up at all at the divided part either... wouldn't want to lose a tenth of a MPG now would we, then we couldn't brag to our frenemies about it.
One last good thing... they had taken down the ridiculous 45 MPH signs in the area around the Ren Festival... which had been left up all week even though it's closed on weekdays! I'll be glad when it's gone.
Webster Mountain summit panorama