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Whetstone Trifecta, AZ
mini location map2016-12-10
59 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Whetstone Trifecta, AZ 
Whetstone Trifecta, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 10 2016
Hiking8.41 Miles 2,217 AEG
Hiking8.41 Miles   5 Hrs   1 Min   1.76 mph
2,217 ft AEG      14 Mns Break
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I started writing an awesome hike description that I was planning to post, but mid-way through in obtaining further details, Google confirmed that “This route has restricted usage or private roads”. Total bummer! The signage at the beginning of the road in question was definitely not clear; the wording made it seem like the private property did not start until the end of the dirt road. This means that I will be leaving out a few details… and snipping out a few portions of my GPS route! :D

The bushwhacking began almost as soon as I set foot out of my vehicle. In the beginning, tons of cattle routes made the going very fast, and at times it felt like I was on a full out trail; however, over the course of the 2.75 miles or so that it took to reach my “entrance ridge,” I definitely experienced more than my fair share of crotch high grass. Let’s just say, had I done this a few months ago, it would have easily earned a spot among my ‘Top 5 Worst Adventures to have Selected During Snake Season.

With temps climbing above 70 today, it was definitely a little freaky at times, but luckily no snake sightings. The bees on the other hand were a different story! Aside for the first 2.75 miles or so that it took to reach my “entrance ridge,” bees buzzed me almost the entire time, [and never in a friendly way]. While I never encountered more than a single bee at any given time, I’d usually get buzzed if I were to stop for more than about 30-60 seconds; and there were some instances when I was buzzed while moving at a slower pace, which was necessary in a few spots to negotiate boulders or steep sections with loose footing. While, I was never stung, there was one instance where I came very close after heading about 20-30 feet off a jeep road to check out a spring. I’d almost reached the spring when a bee came out of nowhere, buzzing loudly and angrily as it made furious circles around my head. Needless to say, I hauled ass back to the jeep road. Luckily it did not pursue.

As for the adventure, the real fun began with a sweet “entrance ridge”, which went for about 0.15 miles SW, 0.25 miles NW, 0.15 miles slightly South of West, 0.05 miles NW and finally 0.20 mile SW. At this point, it positioned me on the badass, NW – SE running ridgeline with three, 6,600’+ peaks that dominate the horizon when traveling passed the Northeast part of the Whetstones along Highway 90. From NW to SE, these peaks include: the Whetstone Benchmark (6,628’), East Peak (6,681’), and UN 6662. The two peaks on the end [Whetstone BM & UN 6662],are each located about 0.30 from the one in the middle [East Peak], making for a perfect trifecta.

I hit up UN 6662 first. There are several 6,000-7,000’+ ridgelines and peaks in the Whetstones, including many awesome/unique-shaped summits such as The Cape and Mercury Mountain, that suddenly pop into view once on the NW – SE running ridgeline. Needless to say, the views toward the Whetstones were awesome. Personally however, my overall ranking of this summit’s views were not very high, given that the other directions offered only very distant views of other ranges. Nonetheless, I still really enjoyed it, [and would have enjoyed it even more if I could sit and relax for a minute or two… but the guardian bee of UN 6662 would not allow for that!].

Next up was East Peak. The views were very similar to UN 6662, but with additional peaks/ridgelines of the Whetstones now in view, I liked it much better. I also got a solid 3-5 minutes of sitting on a comfy rock by the summit cairn & register before the bee that began buzzing me upon my arrival grew inpatient and alternated between landing on my pack and flying slow circles near me. At this point, I started walking circles in the opposite direction as I squeezed in some final photos and quickly signed the log before making haste. The oldest sign-in I saw was from 1991, but given the bee situation, I definitely didn’t go through the log in detail.

Next up was the Whetstone BM. Interestingly enough, some of my favorite views were actually along the segment of ridgeline leading from East Peak to the Whetstone BM. There are [at least] 3 beautiful survey markers right in the area of the highpoint of the Whetstone BM, [as well as a patch of catclaw-like vegetation which was luckily rather dull this time of year]. I definitely would have stayed longer to soak in the awesome views and look a little harder for a register / additional markers, but the bee atop the Whetstone BM was not at all happy with my presence, and it didn’t hesitate to let me know.

I grabbed my phone to consult Route Scout for a fast way off the peak, but then noticed something that seemed too good to be true: a full out trail not shown on the topos. With a steep grade in several places and many rock outcroppings to maneuver over or around, what would have otherwise been a very slow descent, [and not particularly pleasant with all of the bees], proved to be a total joyride down a super fun exit ridge, at the bottom of which is the terminus of FR 4593. Once back on the jeep road, it was super smooth sailing back to my vehicle. Even with the bees, the adventure was a total blast.
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