Had a really crappy night trying to find a campsite. Eventually settled for a motel, but everything within 30 miles was either full or had their offices closed for the night. Finally after 2+ hours of looking around, I pulled into a rest stop and crammed myself in the backseat for the night. The end result was waking up late and hitting the trail around 9 with a chance of thunderstorms lingering in the air. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I went for it anyways.
The first stop was a spur trail overlooking Bullion Falls. I don't think there's a good time of day to get a picture of them because of their location, but I did what I could. Once above the falls, there's a 150ft descent to Pine Creek and then the climbing starts up again. I reached the abandoned miner's cabin (10,375ft) and was thankful to see the steep climbing subside for a little bit. There was some nice walking through a grassy valley with peaks all around, but it was short lived. I had a hard time finding the trail about half way up the valley so I just kept going uphill, glancing often at the GPS route I had traced. Eventually, I found a rough trail that I was able to follow for the most part until it too petered out.
From where that "trail" ended, I went uphill some more, crossed the creek, and met up with another detached "trail" that heads a very short ways straight up the mountainside. My GPS said I had somewhere between .4 and .5 miles to Delano, but my elevation was still close to 11,000. I kept thinking that this was supposed to be a 12k peak... and it was. Holy mother of a climb. To the peak from the creek crossing is roughly 3/4 of a mile with 1,070ft left. My Piestewa hikes didn't prep me for that. I remembered one of Desert Boonie's triplogs where he mentioned a step-and-rest style of walking which was helpful, but still exhausting. It didn't help that the sky above me was gray and I was rushing to get up and back down to treeline. What a relief it was to finally reach the top and catch my breath. I had the company of two folks, one of which was a county highpointer (this would be his 569th, I believe.) My Camelbak was now empty, but at least the huge, gray clouds above began to break apart, leaving the puffy cumulus clouds that make mountain views that much more incredible.
I headed down after close to an hour, maybe more. At least that's what it felt like. The bits of trail I saw coming up became a single, more cohesive version on the way down, though still overgrown and undecipherable in places. I ended up too far north and had to compensate once. It was an uneventful trip back to the car with the exception of a huge buck that ran through the woods. I saw a brown blur and heard downed timber crack under the weight of the animal as it took off. I still didn't know what it was, but I could hear branches snapping in its direction. I cut all of the "HEY BEAR" crap when I saw the massive antlers.