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Bassett Peak
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mini location map2017-02-06
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Bassett PeakTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 06 2017
Hiking12.15 Miles 3,140 AEG
Hiking12.15 Miles   9 Hrs   8 Mns   1.55 mph
3,140 ft AEG   1 Hour   18 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Day 5 (Galiuro Trip)
The previous evening, I followed the HAZ driving route to the Bassett Peak TH and stopped a little over 1/2 mile short of the end where I found a nice pullout to car-camp for the night. The creek crossing immediately after the pullout looked pretty shitty, so I was originally planning to just leave my vehicle where it was and start hiking. However, with morning temps still in the 30’s [and not caring to spend forever trying to get across the creek on foot while still managing to keep my feet dry], I decided to brave the road… let’s just say, the Forester totally defied having 8.7” of ground clearance and sprouted wings in multiple places…

…while the good spots of the road are easily car-drivable, some of the testy spots, [of which there are LOTS], border on needing jeep/truck type of ground clearance. Seriously, the last 1-1.5 miles to TH is no joke, and for anyone with under 10” of ground clearance, I don’t recommend it unless you’re very comfortable straddling boulders. While I’ve definitely driven worse, I’d give the worst spots for this road an 8 – 8.5 on the ‘shit factor scale’ in terms of being doable in a Forester or something similar.

As for the hike, what was intended as an autopilot trail hike turned into a truly epic bushwhack adventure [what else is new!?! :D ]. In all seriousness, I had no intention of going off-trail when I launched; but something rather unusual happened: I got bored with the trail and bounded up a massive ridge that I wasn’t even 100% sure would lead me to the summit [Route Scout topo was still not cooperating so all I had to go by was what I’d drawn out for myself ahead of time]. As long as I’ve been wanting to summit Bassett Peak, the gamble I took was rather out of character for me, especially in a situation like this where there was a good chance of not making summit in the event a backtrack was needed. The ridgeline I’d selected had many sections of crag/hoodoos, so it was definitely a big gamble. Ironically, [while some Class 3 and a handful of not too dicey Class 4 climbs were needed], the bouldering was pretty fun and uncomplicated… the brush on the other hand………….. let’s just say I’ve never detested Manzanita so much in my life! It was pure Manzanita hell, and by comparison made the thick Manzanita patch en route to Mound Mountain in the Supes seem like child’s play. About 75% of the ridge or more proved to be a brush battle with each step… in addition to literally standing still in many places to snap dead Manzanita branches out of the way, there was lots of crawling on all four and even a few times where I attempt to go through / over the brush [although unless there were boulders to reach for, this tactic usually resulted in getting caught up like an insect in a spider’s web]. Laugh as you may, but my shin-guards – along with the cheap pair of workmen’s safety goggles that I decided to bring along last minute – were both worth their weight in gold on this one! Not having to guard my eyes thanks to the goggles knocked off a full hour at least.

By the time I made my way to the craggy section of ridgeline that concerned me the most, I was beat up to the point that, [for once], I wish I’d stuck to the trail. At this stage of the game, a backtrack would mean not making the summit. The moment of truth was upon me, and little did I know, not one but two awesome surprises awaited: 1) as I crested the craggy area, I got a full ‘line-of-sight’ view to the summit and knew that I would soon be standing atop Bassett Peak; 2) a few steps later, I looked up and was treated to a beautiful surprise that made getting the crap kicked out of me totally worth it [to be disclosed at a later date! ;) ].

The summit views from Bassett Peak, [as well as the views en route], are just sensational and definitely among my top 10-15 favorite summit views in AZ. A register was very recently placed [on 2/4/17], and having the ‘snow-prints’ of the five who’d hike to the peak just two days prior definitely made life MUCH easier for my descent, the first 1-2 miles of which had a good 8-10+ inches of snow. Being less than average when it comes to negotiating loose/slippery footing, I was slipping and sliding almost every step of descent on the parts of trail still covered in snow, and I was amazed at how few slip marks there were from the party of five that had done this hike a couple of days before me. Assuming the snow is still there when the next person/group hikes the peak, they are probably going to take one look at my prints [slips] and think, ‘The idiot who did this last must’ve been hammered or stoned!’

For me, negotiating loose/slippery footing is unpleasant enough that when I realized I’d missed the turn for the plane crash memorial by about 1/4 mile, the idea of backtracking up the snowy slope did not even cross my mind.

The ridgeline that the trail descends is amazingly beautiful, and there are endless bouldering opportunities; although by this point I was beat to crap and did not even think of setting foot off-trail. While is was very nice to have an uncomplicated, autopilot type of return along the trail, thinking of the drive out definitely made me a bit nervous. Luckily, the Forester rose to the occasion once again and got the job done, unscathed.
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