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Blue Peak/LO & Indian Peak & Raspberry Peak, AZ
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Blue Peak/LO & Indian Peak & Raspberry Peak, AZ 
Blue Peak/LO & Indian Peak & Raspberry Peak, AZ
Hiking avatar May 10 2017
Hiking9.44 Miles 3,181 AEG
Hiking9.44 Miles   6 Hrs   44 Mns   1.62 mph
3,181 ft AEG      54 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Day 6 (Hike 1) – Gila Trip Gone Wrong
…Nature called at about 2 AM, (which is never a pleasant thing in 20-30 degree temps… :doh: ), but on this particularly occasion, it proved to be a saving grace. I attempted to answer the call but got whacked in the face with a pile of snow that had flown off the door upon opening it; and I gazed in horror at the Winter Wonderland outside and what appeared to be a good 6-8” of snow. To make matters worse, the snow was still falling fast and furious. Without hesitation, I grabbed my keys threw my belongings off the front see, and proceeded to get the hell out of Dodge.

In the beginning, there were spots where the Forester had started to go into a slide; and although I was able to get control pretty easily, my heart was definitely skipping beats… while not a ‘white knuckle’ road under normal conditions, there were a few spots that came *frightfully close to an embankment, [*given the way I was sliding around in the beginning]. Luckily, my decade plus experience of driving in snowy/icy weather in Connecticut came back to me pretty quickly and, [after about 1/2 to 1 mile of slip ‘n’ slide], I luckily mastered the technique of how to ‘throw’ the steering wheel before going into a slide in order to keep the vehicle straight. For most of the way, there was a good 4-6 inches of snow; while the bad spots had upwards of 8” and the good spots had about 2” or less. While it wasn’t exactly pleasant making an ‘emergency exit’ at 2 AM, I managed to make the drive out in just 10 minutes [vs. the 20+ minutes that it had taken me to drive in]… it’s just amazing what a few extra inches of ground clearance can do! :D

Hwy 191 was in much better shape; however, the Southbound side [my side] was the one on the edge of the huge drop off. Given the conditions, I didn’t hesitate to take up both lanes; and in the unlikely event someone were driving up the road at that hour, I’d be able to see the headlights and move over. I arrived at Strayhorse a little before 2 AM and had the entire West side of the campground area to myself.

The next morning I intended to launch from the Raspberry Creek Trail #35 but ended up on a side road that dead-ended. Rather than backtrack, I followed animal routes and eventually connected with the trail a little further down. Upon launching, the skies were clear overhead but I could already see clouds building up in the distance; and very shortly after I departed from the trail [to make the 1,500’+ elevator ride ascent up a South ridge of Blue Peak], grey clouds started to move in very fast. The climb was super fun, with a lot more bouldering opportunities than I anticipated based on what I could see of the ridge from the trail. Aside from my feet which were soaked and miserably cold, the rest of my body somehow managed to feel okay, (despite having gotten drenched early on from plowing through snow-covered branches :doh: ).

By the time I reached the summit, the clouds were pretty thick but there were a few breaks here and there, allowing me to catch glimpses of the awesome views. Like the Escudilla Lookout, the Blue Peak Lookout was also run down & had a desolate feel. There was a register nestled under a cairn by the base of the lookout tower, and the main sign-in page goes back to August 2004. I couldn’t find any survey markers, [although I was starting to get pretty cold and didn’t put much effort into looking]. Cell reception from the summit was excellent, so I called Peter who graciously gave me a Doppler report, which proved very helpful. Before departing from the summit, I changed in to dry shirt that I had thrown in to my pack last minute, and it was a VERY nice treat to no longer have my upper body feel drenched & cold.

I headed off Blue Peak along its NE ridge via a very overgrown trail. Toward the summit, the trail is almost overgrown beyond recognition, but it soon become discernable; and, although not in the greatest shape, it definitely made the going a bit smoother given how some pretty gnarly brush had started to take over. The brush soon faded out to the point where it was faster and easier to simply head directly along the ridge in the direction I planned to go [vs. sticking to the trail]; and as I approached my next peak of interest [Indian Peak], the route on the ridgeline in this area was more defined than the stretch of trail I’d taken off of Blue Peak. Indian Peak wasn’t a standout [in that there were plenty of other spots along the ridge and throughout my adventure where the views were just as good if not better]. I was also unable to find a summit register or survey marker(s). At the very least, it was smooth off-trailing in this area and in the direction I needed to go.

Next up was Raspberry Peak. I’d intended to head of the S/SE ridge of Indian Peak toward Raspberry Peak but inadvertently headed off the ridge to the NE [toward UN 8372]. Luckily, it was under 0.10 miles before I got the overwhelming sense that I was headed toward the wrong peak. And the error even helped me to not only avoid a craggy section on the ridge I should’ve taken but also spot some very well-defined animal routes, which made it a fun and easy task of dropping about 750’ in 2/3rds of a mile to the saddle area just North of Raspberry Peak.

The ascent of Raspberry Peaks was loads of fun, offering a gain of around 400’ over about 1/4 mile. :D With tons of animal routes, excellent footing, and *minimal brush [*IF paying attention to the routes that circumvent it], I truly enjoyed the awesome workout this ascent offered. Once on the summit ridge, it was short and easy jaunt of just under 0.20 miles Eastward to reach the highpoint. The views were absolutely extraordinary but the wind was blowing viciously and I could see more grey clouds to West, [which would be headed my way based on the Doppler report Peter had given me]. Thus, I took a few pics, signed the register, [which had been placed by Mark Nichols *prior to 11/20/96], and headed on my way. *11/20/96 was the date of ascent for the second person to sign; Mark’s name was first and barely readable, [and the date of his ascent had completely faded].

My descent off Raspberry Peak was exceptionally smooth thanks to some excellent routes that circumvented the cliffy and overly brushy areas. I descended Westward until I reached about 7,800’ and then contoured Northward as I continued to descend but much more gradually. I then contoured back around to the West toward Raspberry Basin, and soon connected with the Raspberry Creek Trail #35, [which was the same trail I started]. From the time I reconnected with the trail, I had a little over 2 miles to go to get back to my vehicle. This trail was a real treat: the footing was excellent for the majority of the way, the trail was very well defined [aside from a handful of confusing spots where the cattle had blazed routes that were equally well-defined if not more so…], and the views and immediate surroundings were absolutely beautiful. Aside from half expecting a storm to blow over the ridge at any moment, it was truly a stress free ending to an awesome adventure.
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