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96 Hills - Three Summits, AZ
mini location map2017-02-17
55 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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96 Hills - Three Summits, AZ 
96 Hills - Three Summits, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 17 2017
Hiking6.50 Miles 2,323 AEG
Hiking6.50 Miles   4 Hrs   31 Mns   1.48 mph
2,323 ft AEG      8 Mns Break
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Although in close proximity, they all happened to be in different quadrangles:
Peak 2701 - 96 Hills NW Quadrangle
Peak 3653 - 96 Hills NE Quadrangle
Peak 3757 - 96 Hills SE Quadrangle

Lots and lots of scrub land pretty well describes the area. Great for hunters and ATV'ers, no so good for hiking. But since I was here to bag peaks it made no difference to me.

For the first one (Peak 2701) it took only a short drive east on E 96 Ranch Road then a few miles north to the trailhead just east of the 'Middle Mountain' series of hills. From satellite view it looked like I could choose almost any path, however with boots-on-the-ground I soon found brush thick enough I was constantly backing out of dead-ends. But once I began climbing the first ridge the thorny stuff gave way to rocky but more open terrain and it wasn't long before I reached the summit.

I was a bit surprised seeing an entry in the summit log by Bob Packard three days before. After adding my entry I began the descent toward Middle Mountain Tank, hoping I may see some game. Unfortunately the tank was dry.

Another drive east on E 96 Ranch Road before another turn north and I'm ready for a double summit of Peaks 3653 and 3757. A quick slither through the barbed-wire fence and I'm on my way. As usual, I hadn't gone a hundred yards before I was well off the planned route. Again, the hazards of melding Topo and Satellite imagery before seeing the area first-hand. While the route I took was easier, I got tired of Route Scout squawking that I was off-trail. I don't usually use that feature but I initially enabled it for the beta testing.

A bit rockier terrain than the first peak but it was very similar to my last two Four Peaks area hikes. As I neared the top I glanced down-slope and there was a Crested Saguaro. Cool! The second one in a week or so.

At the summit was a 6-foot tall rock cairn, which I had to climb partway to reach the summit log. Although on every map I'd seen labeled it 3653, the log listed it as 3569. If I can trust the GPS, it confirms the 3653 figure. (I suppose if one added the 6' cairn would be an accurate 3659.)

I took a quick summit walk-around then headed off for Peak 3757. Again I would ignore my planned Route Scout route and follow the terrain, and in some cases, some VERY old 'roads'. With no evidence of mining on any of these peaks I wondered why they were created in the first place. Although they were originally quite wide they tended to be more choked with brush than just off to one side or the other, so they weren't as helpful as I wished.
(Back at home I looked closer with Route Manager in Satellite view and it appears the roads were pretty extensive.... not that it helped tell me why they were there.)

I must not have been paying close attention when mapping out the route to Peak 3757 as I was surprised to see a benchmark. I spent some time scanning around for Reference Marks but found none and just settled down for a lunch break. I took a few photos of the long-abandoned 96 Ranch and began the final descent. I tried sticking to the 'road' but when it fizzled out I was left with the steepest slope of the whole day. Tracey would have said 'no way', but I'm solo so I just took it slow and careful and soon I was on level ground.

While cutting a beeline back toward the Jeep I scared up two mule deer, a doe and a four-point buck. I had the camera out fast but knew a video would barely be 10-15 seconds long so I went for the best shot I could hope for. I guessed just right on how much zoom to catch both in the same frame, then gave some lead anded waited for them to enter the frame. I lead them a fraction too much so now I'll take anything I can get. None of the photos were the best, but better than nothing.

That was it for drama today... other than a run-in of the thorny variety, a Christmas cholla well hidden in a jojoba.

Three videos:
2:30 - Peak 2701 summit panorama
2:48 - Peak 3653 summit panorama
2:15 - Peak 3757 summit panorama
Saguaro - Crested
Mule Deer
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