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Peak 2433 - Stewart Mountain Quad, AZ
mini location map2019-05-18
25 by photographer avatarCannondaleKid
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Peak 2433 - Stewart Mountain Quad, AZ 
Peak 2433 - Stewart Mountain Quad, AZ
Hiking avatar May 18 2019
Hiking4.50 Miles 1,516 AEG
Hiking4.50 Miles   3 Hrs   18 Mns   1.36 mph
1,516 ft AEG12 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
With no plans for the day I figured I'd just start driving out Bush Highway until something came to mind, and hopefully I'd come up with that something before I reached Payson.

Thankfully it didn't take long... on literally the spur-of-the-moment I pulled over in the winding portion of Bush Highway. Ok, now that I have a starting point, what's the plan? Still nothing, so I just set off with a vague thought of racking up a bit of elevation along the way.

Having already done the Stewart Mountain triple a number of times I quickly ruled that out so if I wanted the AEG in one shot instead of a long series of ups-and-downs I was pretty much stuck with Peak 2433, so that's what I did.

I had used a southwestern approach when I first climbed Peak 2433 in July 2013 and although it was much warmer, I don't recall it as steep as the northern approach I was pretty much forced into today. ('Forced' based more on where I was when I decided to climb it) Based on how steep it was, having to literally claw my way up in some spots, my upper arms got a thorough workout, along with the calves of course.

Unlike in 2013, there was a log under the cairn at the summit. Surprisingly, other than BEEBEE's SOTA log in Feb 2014 all I found were entries for earlier this year... more than a dozen in one group from the Sierra Club and one solo entry.

After taking my usual panorama video and photos I knew right away I had to find a different descent route. Climbing it was easier in the sense I was only looking up, but now, looking down? No way!

For just a moment I thought of using roughly the same route as in 2013, but I didn't care for the long walk back along Bush, so I scouted around a bit and found a game trail (it appeared to be from deer) heading down to the west. While the trail would fade and return a few times along the way, it was definitely easier than my ascent route, albeit through scads of fox-tails and dried burrs. Tracey would have loved it... NOT!

I should have said, the first half of the route was easier, but I did not like the lower part. So after consulting the map and seeing larger gaps between topo lines in the drainage a quarter mile farther west, I took a bee-line for the saddle above the drainage. The drainage turned out to be the easiest slope (up or down) I'd encounter on the day.

As I approached the Goldfield Ovens Loop horse trail I decided I had enough of all the off-trail chaff and just followed the trail. But maybe 50 feet from the trail I met a group of four equestrians... of which it appears I scared the guy second in line, as he brought his horse to a dead stop, which made his wife (who was immediately behind) wonder why he stopped. It must have been that I had my cooling neck gaiter pulled over my face so only my eyes were visible. Supposedly I seemed like a ghost to him.
A half-mile along the trail, when I saw two women on horseback I figured I better drop my mask before they got too close. The first one was quite surprised, saying "I've ridden this trail for years and have never encountered hikers before"... well, now you have.

In fairness, out of a half-dozen hikes in the area I had only met equestrians once before. But then again, I have used at least five different routes, including a more treacherous and long-defunct horse trail.

All in all, a great full-body workout on an unseasonably cool day. Best of all I was done just in time for rush hour along Bush Highway... a never-ending line of vehicles, more than a few monster boats and even more monstrous 5th-wheel RV's.
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Stewart Mountain
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