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Granite Mountain Trail #261 and Peak 7626, AZ
mini location map2020-07-01
12 by photographer avatarrayhuston
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Granite Mountain Trail #261 and Peak 7626, AZ 
Granite Mountain Trail #261 and Peak 7626, AZ
Hiking avatar Jul 01 2020
Hiking11.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Hiking11.00 Miles   10 Hrs   21 Mns   1.34 mph
2,500 ft AEG   2 Hrs   8 Mns Break
1st trip
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"Be careful, it's a jungle out there!"

Aside from from hiking with Pam on three of the great New Years Day hikes that she has organized for nine years running, Pam and I haven't hiked together. We've tried on occasion, but it didn't work out for one reason or another. We fixed that today and left the trailhead with a goal that we should hike together more often.

We agreed on a 6am meetup at the Playa Parking area and got started about 10 minutes after we arrived. It was cool at the start but warmed up nicely once we were found sunlight a mile or so into the hike. We spent the early part of the hike looking for photo ops. We had a few, but you'll have to wait for Pam's photo set for those.

The hike up the switchbacks was at a nice easy pace with a few stops for photos. When we reached the shady junction with the peak trail, we opted to check out the overlook before heading to the summit. Glad we did. I probably would not have gone if we did the peak first. More on that later.

The overlook was awesome. Great views under stellar skies. A pair of Perigrine falcons provided entertainment while we took a break. Pam was working overtime to get some shots as those two falcons put on a show. It was such a great time that I could have stayed there for hours. Alas, we had a peak to summit.

I've been to the summit before with @The_Eagle. I don't remember it being this difficult. Route finding was difficult, everything seemed more overgrown than before, and going uphill through the scrub or up and over boulders was harder than I remember. Older is much more likely.

We did make it, but not without a fair amount of wandering. Cairn placement was inconsistent with the route we loaded. We often split up in search of a way up (same going down). Pam was far more successful than I. She had the right idea. Keep it simple and "look for dirt." At the top, neither of wanted to get on top of the highest boulder. The wind was gusting and it didn't seem worth the risk to either of us.

After getting back down much the same way we went up, we had lunch under the pines at the shady junction. We took a nice long rest before heading down.

We had the trail to ourselves until the last mile of the hike when we passed a couple walking a dog. As we were going down the switchbacks, we saw a hiker taking the very, very steep and rocky drainage east of the switchbacks. Talk about a shortcut. He was flying. Pam joked that it might be @wallyfrack, but this guy had trekking poles. Before we got another quarter mile, he was working his way south around the base of the cliffs. It was humbling to watch a person move that fast.

I was warm and tired at the end. Exhausted by the time I got home. If I ever do this again, it will only be trail #261, an out and back to the overlook, which was magnificent and doesn't take that long.

Pam, it was great hiking with you. Let's do it again!
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