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96 Hills & Three Peaks, AZ
mini location map2017-03-02
48 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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96 Hills & Three Peaks, AZ 
96 Hills & Three Peaks, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 02 2017
Hiking8.80 Miles 4,248 AEG
Hiking8.80 Miles   6 Hrs   2 Mns   1.53 mph
4,248 ft AEG      18 Mns Break20 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Another trip out to the '96 Hills' area. The plan was to bag Peak 3819, Coyote Peak & Peak 3810 followed by a separate ascent of Peak 3626. The first part happened, but the last part did not. Not for lack of trying, mind you.

The drive out 96 Hills Road from AZ 79 was again a breeze... very smooth gravel road for most of the way to the 96 Ranch. From there I followed an ATV/Jeep track out a ways to my designated trailhead.

The hike began with an immediate climb and I hadn't gone a hundred yards before realizing this was not going to be as easy as follow the ridge. The high winds made it a chore to keep upright. Between the wind noise and the chilling effect (47 degrees at the start) I began to wonder if this was a good idea.

Oh well, I'm here, so let's make the best of it. I made several attempts to drop slightly down the leeward slope of the ridge to be sheltered from the wind, but this side was too steep to continue. So then I tried along the windward slope... while easier terrain, the wind was no less, so the footing did not improve.

What made it even harder to keep my footing was with no let-up in the wind, my eyes were watering the whole the trip out to Coyote Peak. After a while I thought it so crazy that my eyes watered even more profusely on the steep descents. Even being very slow and careful it was a constant battle to keep from stepping in the wrong place.

But worst of all... if I could have seen, I may have had a great photo of a gray fox. I doubt the fox knew I was there, what with the noise from the high winds and me being downwind, but I came around a bush and stopped and tried to dry my eyes because something seemed out-of-place. By time I could see it was a fox laying on the ground barely a few feet from me and went for my camera, it turned its head around, took a moment to look at me as though it was trying to figure out what I was (maybe it just woke up?) before it came to its senses and shot off out-of-sight.
If only I could have seen it right away I might have got a photo... if only...

Peak 3819 had no summit log so I spent little time there. Coyote Peak had a summit log with the last being Bob Packard on Valentines Day 2017. (When I climbed Peak 2701 two weeks ago I saw his log for the same day)

Instead of retracing my route along the ridge before making a 90-degree offshoot to Peak 3810 which was the plan, I decided I had enough of the wind-whipped ridge and dropped down to the wash. (Later I would realize just how much elevation I lost) This long climb up a loose slope became a chore... are we there yet? are we there yet? along with three 'false summits' before finally 'Yes, where here now!'
Another log with Bob Packard as the last entry, this one for 6 days after Valentines Day 2017. Good to see he's still bagging peaks!

Now for the return trip... since I didn't stay high on the ridge for the trip to 3810, I figured I would continue that theme and stay off the ridges. Big mistake... again dropping way down it made for a much longer winding trip through thick and thorny brush followed by a LONG climb on loose terrain back to the Jeep.
Based on my tentative track on Route Manager I was expected something around 2,000' AEG, but with all my route changes it more than doubled... and I felt it. After almost 3700' yesterday, it was all I could do to make the last climb back to the Jeep.

Needless to say, I was in no shape to pick up Peak 3626... so after leaving for another time once before, that is still the case, I'll be back.

I shot videos at each summit but with the next 3-4 days filled with other plans I might not get to them until next week.
Named place
Named place
Coyote Peak
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