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184 triplogs

Feb 02 2013
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Maricopa Peak - Sand Tank MountainsSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 02 2013
sbkelley
Hiking8.34 Miles 3,605 AEG
Hiking8.34 Miles   8 Hrs   20 Mns   1.00 mph
3,605 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
desert_boonie
Tmkelley
The Sand Tank Mountains are worth a visit, and they're closer to PHX than you think. The required BMGR permit and location south of I-8 kept me away from doing this for awhile, but the massif of Javelina Mountain and Maricopa Peak always looked interesting. Ken, Tanya, and I took our turn last Saturday.

We took Ken's jeep to the end of Road 8015, and except for the last mile or so, the road wasn't really rocky or steep at all. Healthy saguaro and cholla stands everywhere. Our initial plan was to head up Bender Wash, which would get us closer to Javelina Peak first. The main wash is actually wide, and had just been scoured by the recent rains, so progress was easy. Signs of passing immigrant parties appeared: water bottles, backpacks, and food tins. Surprised to see that on the mountain's north side. The wash steepened and we rock-hopped our way to the foot of a steep ridge, taking the calf-burning slope to its top. From there, we were about halfway between Javelina and Maricopa Peaks.

The main ridgeline itself is great travel: rolling, smooth, largely free of any obstacles and high on scenery. Travel is almost easiest directly on the ridge, though. We tried traversing the final obstacle before Javelina Peak: not worth it. Terrain to the south of us appeared rugged and remote - you cannot see a single habitation from here, and only the distant sound of I-8 pushes back the quiet. That, and afternoon bombing runs a couple miles away on the Goldwater...

The trek over to Maricopa Peak took awhile, and drops you at a low saddle, before the final push begins. Rock and terrain is generally solid, making for good passage. The last couple hundred feet up Maricopa features some decent optional scrambling...and a makeshift very-recently-used helicopter pad with a mangled palo verde tree nearby. Here's to hoping that was just a Luke AFB training exercise instead of illicit aircraft. Atop Maricopa Peak, there were a number of signatures in the log of people looking for a triangulation benchmark, which seems to be the main draw here, not the fact that it's the Sand Tanks' highpoint. Whatever the draw, the reward of the view is well worth it.

Back as the sun was getting low, and afternoon light is always amazing out there.
Named place
Named place
Javelina Mountain Maricopa Peak
_____________________
Jan 12 2013
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
National Trail - South MountainPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Run/Jog avatar Jan 12 2013
sbkelley
Run/Jog14.00 Miles 1,256 AEG
Run/Jog14.00 Miles   2 Hrs   45 Mns   5.09 mph
1,256 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Finally got the "Coast to Coast" run done in South Mountain! My friend Danielle is training for the Sedona marathon in 3 weeks, so this was the final big run for her. Cold morning today - could see your breath at Pima Wash and the first hill climb on National did a great job of warming us up. After that, chilly but clear, and always love the far west end of this trail with its sweeping views and quiet trail. The last 2 miles up the road back to the car at Central were terrible, but other than that, great day.
_____________________
2 archives
Jan 06 2013
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Mesquite Trail - White TanksPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Run/Jog avatar Jan 06 2013
sbkelley
Run/Jog12.25 Miles 1,900 AEG
Run/Jog12.25 Miles   1 Hour   58 Mns   35 Secs6.20 mph
1,900 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Ran the XTerra White Tanks race again this year. Totally different strategy this time than last year, and much better effort up the hill(s), but exact same finish time (1:58)! How'd that happen? Oh well, great day, nice chilly cloud-covered conditions made the running easier. The relentless climb makes every muscle burn, but it is nice up high. Flew down the hill and started thinking about food and beer with about 2 miles to go on the flats...now if that doesn't motivate you, I don't know what will
_____________________
Dec 29 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Quartz Peak Trail - Sierra EstrellaPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 29 2012
sbkelley
Hiking5.20 Miles 2,550 AEG
Hiking5.20 Miles   5 Hrs   30 Mns   0.95 mph
2,550 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Having professional geologists along always makes a hike more interesting and educational. My parents were in town from New Mexico, and we took them up this Sonoran Desert classic hike. Perfect, cool day out with great visibility. They found epidote, tourmaline, garnets...all of which I'd never have seen without their help! Always cool to get a new perspective on an old favorite.

The nice cool quartz summit was, for once, unwelcome: it was chilly up there! Afternoon light on the descent made made a spectacular setting.
_____________________
Dec 15 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Big Horn BM 3183Phoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 15 2012
sbkelley
Hiking7.00 Miles 1,900 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles   5 Hrs      1.40 mph
1,900 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Few places rival the Maricopa Mountains in winter for scenery, lighting, and solitude. I finally got around to exploring the Southern Maricopas earlier in November, when Ken, Tanya, and I collected three unnamed summits during a day trip. Looking at Big Horn BM that day sparked an interest to return.

The morning was foggy with the previous day's rain, and we even encountered some small pools while hiking in the wash from the parking spot to Big Horn herself. Eric found a sharp, interesting ridge, and we left the wash, making a beeline for the summit. Some good scrambling and knife-edges kept our interest as we made our way above 3000' to one of the higher points in the Maricopas. Nobody had signed the log since Ken's 2010 ascent, and we must have stayed on top for an hour, sipping summit brews and looking at distant, snow-covered peaks to the east and north. Very clear day. Took Ken's described ridge on the way down, finding the cholla mine field right at the exit. Highly recommended mountain.
Culture
Culture
Fraley Pose
Named place
Named place
Sonoran Desert National Monument
_____________________
Dec 01 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
National Trail - South MountainPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Run/Jog avatar Dec 01 2012
sbkelley
Run/Jog14.00 Miles 1,200 AEG
Run/Jog14.00 Miles   2 Hrs   40 Mns   5.25 mph
1,200 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Partners none no partners
South Mountain running season is here again! Nice long run to start with. Danielle is training for a marathon in Sedona and needed to get 2 hrs 40 min today, so my usual Pima Canyon TH to Buena Vista lookout and back along National wasn't going to cut it, I guess! We went up National, but past Buena Vista to just beneath the radio towers, turning around before the big descent started. Returned on National to the Mormon Trail, went down that, then took Javelina to the parking lot off of 46th St, returning to Pima Canyon TH via Beverly Canyon trail. Was not happy to face those rolling hills on the last mile and a half, but couldn't have asked for better weather. Though it is a little crazy it's still so warm...
_____________________
Nov 11 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Margies Cove TrailPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 11 2012
sbkelley
Hiking6.00 Miles 900 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   4 Hrs      1.50 mph
900 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Took a couple fellow grad students from our department out here for a nice easy day, and first view of something other than the standard Camelback/South Mountain/Flatiron hikes for them Always like to show people this area, it's such an amazing spot so close to home. We left Margie's Cove at 11 am (somehow missing my good buddy Ken, who was out there that same day at that same spot...), and headed out on the trail, picking out peak 1889 as a good place to survey the area. There has been some recent work done on this trail, and it's gone from the old two-track to single track now. Looks good.

Headed up the drainage on the northeast side of the peak and scrambled up, and these guys got their first cholla-dodging experience, an AZ rite of passage :) But they did great, and we all soaked in the view before heading home.
Culture
Culture
Cadastral Survey Marker
Named place
Named place
Margies Cove
_____________________
Nov 03 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Cactus to CloudsBig Bear - Jacinto, CA
Big Bear - Jacinto, CA
Hiking avatar Nov 03 2012
sbkelley
Hiking21.00 Miles 10,795 AEG
Hiking21.00 Miles   13 Hrs      1.62 mph
10,795 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Tmkelley
Four years - four years was enough to make me forget the tight, tired legs and an inability to consume enough calories to complete this journey. Thinking about dragging myself up Skyline for a third time, and the first since 2008, filled me with dread and excitement the week before. The return was well worth it, though.

After telling our friend Danielle - making her first Cactus to Clouds trek - that "we'd be lucky to see even three people on the trail," we were greeted by 5 MeetUp groups and maybe 100+ people starting from the Museum at the same time as us. Whoops! That certainly changed the dynamic of the trip right away. Between the MeetUp groups, the annual gay pride parade, and the golf cart parade all happening during our trip, Palm Springs was bursting with entertainment!

Knowing full-well what was coming, I was determined to set an intelligent and steady pace today for the three of us, ensuring good progress without burning out too early...and hoping to avoid the girls cursing my name. The first stretch certainly gets your attention: the grade, early morning, and big rock steps conspired to get the perspiration going. Route-finding here in the dark was a full-time chore for me and my headlamp, but we found the picnic tables soon enough with minimal confusion. Soon after this, you make the quick right-then-left turn combination, and it was at this point that a pattern began: a hiker from one of the MeetUp groups would jump on the back of our little pack and chat with us for a long while as we moved up. The first customer was leading a group himself, and this was his 30+ time up the Skyline. He was with us until the Shady Slope. Through here, the moonlight was bright and the night was beautiful.

Soon after that, hiker #1 stopped and waited for this group behind, and hiker #2 jumped on the back of our train, this one from the San Fernando Valley with aspirations of climbing Rainier, Hood, and Denali...he and I had much to discuss :) With the exception me badly losing the trail once, it was smooth sailing for awhile. He was with us until 5,800' just shy of Flat Rock, when first light hit us. Throughout the morning, we just kept moving slow and steady, taking 5 minute snack breaks every hour or so...the system was working perfectly! Danielle and Tanya were still feeling good, spirits up.

No system, though, can truly get you from Flat Rock to Long Valley without feeling terrible. That stretch is the definition of a grind, but we plodded our way up, putting some distance on the MeetUp groups resting at Flat Rock, so we had the upper pine slopes to ourselves. Sweeping sunrise views offered some relief from the muscular and cardiovascular torture. Even though we were in better shape 4 years ago, we were only 10 minutes behind that pace. Amazing what hiking smarter can do...

We refilled water, threw down hundreds of calories, chatted with the rangers and some fellow hikers coming up, and started the trudge up to Round Valley. We were a little quiet in here as it took awhile to get the engines going again, but the climb to Wellman's Divide came soon enough. Danielle forged ahead while Tanya and I steadily made the pass, catching as much of a second wind as you can. Clear skies and good views helped. On the final stretch, a barefoot hiker from Indio jumped into our group and chatted with us all the way to the summit. He'd left the Museum sans-shoes, and here he was, a mere mile from the top. He's 'only' done the C2C 50 times, including doing it 3 times in one day. And that, folks, is how you feel lazy even after hiking up 10,500' and 22 miles in one day...

The summit was great. The beers tasted sweet and the sun felt good in the chilly air. A beer and a half (hey, all 3 of us carried 'em up, can't let 'em go to waste!), 3 hours of sleep, and 10,500' of climbing seemed like a good reason to pass out for 10 minutes or so up top. After spending a good hour on the summit, back to the tram we went. Didn't feel nearly as miserable as last time, but we were all quite happy to see that tram house again. Ahhh, that hot tub at day's end was magical...
Fauna
Fauna
Mule Deer
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot
Named place
Named place
San Jacinto Peak
_____________________
Oct 20 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
South Kaibab TrailNorthwest, AZ
Northwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 20 2012
sbkelley
Hiking16.00 Miles 4,790 AEG
Hiking16.00 Miles
4,790 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked linked
Partners partners
Tmkelley
Couldn't pass up a nice fall hike in the Canyon. What a perfect day, too! Got a nice lazy start on S Kaibab, leaving at 9:30 a.m., enjoying the views on the way down. Saw some interesting groups along the way, but that's the norm on these trails....

Ran into a couple friends down near the river - small world! Obligatory beach rest stop was nice, and many people assuming us wading into the water meant comfortable water temps ;) Hey, the ice bath felt good on the muscles before the hike up.

Left the river at 1:30 and were enjoying the sunset right on the rim at 5:30, just an nice steady pace all the way, never forgetting to look back! Ran across a California King snake on the corkscrew, but he got away before I got his photo...
_____________________
Sep 29 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
X-Pine CanyonPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Sep 29 2012
sbkelley
Canyoneering5.00 Miles 1,200 AEG
Canyoneering5.00 Miles   8 Hrs      0.63 mph
1,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
desert_boonie
Ragnarok
This was a nice change from Bear and Sundance. Of my limited sample size of 3, I'd say it was the best canyon yet! The drive in is definitely a challenge and slow-going, but Mike did a great job driving in. We parked before the road started dropping in earnest towards the rim, striking across easy and open forest terrain toward X-Pine. Finding the side drainage was easy enough, and we picked our way around brush and fallen logs, dropping us into the canyon. Fall colors were starting to appear, even though the morning was warm.

After a few easy downclimbs, we hit the first rappel, which is the two-step drop with a pool/ledge about halfway down. Ken went first and dropped put of sight to the bottom of the pitch. When he did, our ropes shifted over the top and into an ill-placed obnoxious bush, requiring some engineering by me and Mike to correct and reset before everyone else could descend. Rich, on his first rappel, was very patient as we schemed. We figured it out though, and what's canyoneering without a little problem-solving?

From there, the rappels come rapid-fire, and a couple of them are overhanging at the start, which always keeps you alert. Only one somewhat deep pool was there, and Ken actually was able to cross it, walking with the water level at chest height. I was glad to have a borrowed wetsuit this time, a nice change from the shivering of Bear and Sundance.

The real highlight/challenge though, comes when you enter West Clear Creek. About this time, my camera battery died, but the other photos put up by previous posters more than do the place justice. It's stunningly beautiful as you travel, but progress is slow and balance is nearly impossible on the slippery, silty river rocks beneath the water's surface. Some of the swims are long, particularly near your exit point, and we were all ready to leave the water for dry land when Tule Canyon came along. The trail wasted no time getting us up the hill, offering dramatic views of the canyon. A great epic day and good team, as always.
_____________________
Sep 22 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Mazatzal Peak SummitPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 22 2012
sbkelley
Hiking10.50 Miles 3,700 AEG
Hiking10.50 Miles   8 Hrs      1.31 mph
3,700 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Did this one 5 years back, and now I remember why it took so long to repeat :)

It was pretty warm morning on Saturday, but most of our crew had 4+ liters of water, so that helped. It's still a bit warm for this one, though with the changing weather, this should be in perfect season soon. The Y-Bar trail was very green and lush as it wound its way in and out of the side canyons en-route to Shake Tree Canyon. At that point, numerous flowers were blooming, causing a hellacious allergy reaction for most of us! Sneezing and sniffling, we finally entered the nice ponderosa forest just shy of the saddle. Tanya (the more intelligent of us) had done the final stretch to the summit from here before, and decided to just enjoy the afternoon in the cool shade.

Up we went on the SE ridge, winding our way around blocky cliffs and brush. Mercifully, a bank of clouds blocked the sun, and the breeze picked up. Up high, it was actually quite cool and pleasant. The summit view was worth the effort and the day was remarkably clear. A view all the way from the Peaks to the Estrellas? Hard to beat that. A few sprinkles cooled the descent, and we regrouped and descended together.
_____________________
Aug 18 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Aravaipa CanyonGlobe, AZ
Globe, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Aug 18 2012
sbkelley
Canyoneering11.00 Miles 200 AEG
Canyoneering11.00 Miles2 Days         
200 ft AEG30 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Though the summer temperatures are hot, a trip through Aravaipa in August turned out to be pretty nice. Our friends Richard and Alana suggested this since so many permits were available, and though the highs were around 100 and storms looked likely, Tanya and I decided to give it a shot.

The first night at Brandenburg wasn't...hot and buggy, so not much sleep, but the cool water of the canyon was refreshing. The canyon - according to a few hikers we met along the way - had flooded the night before, rising 1 or 2 feet and turning the clear river the chocolate brown that we'd see.

Nice cloud cover on the way in made for a pleasant walk, as did the nice breeze. We lazily made our way up the canyon, stopping when we felt like it and enjoying the area: it was nice not to hustle for once! A fellow hiker hinted that a side-trip up Virgus Canyon might be worthwhile: he was right! Maybe a quarter mile up, we found cold and clear pools that lay in a bare-rock canyon bottom. Very refreshing, but the air was warm and the bugs were out...time to retreat.

We got to Horse Camp and found a nice campsite near the creek. Bugs weren't too bad, and we were treated to a strobe-light show when a thunderstorm approached after sunset. All we got were sprinkles and no rising waters. The evening even cooled off enough to warrant getting in the sleeping bags!

The way out was uneventful, save for the scorpion who tried to hitch a ride out on my backpack.
_____________________
Jul 18 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Mount Saint Helens RimVolcano, WA
Volcano, WA
Hiking avatar Jul 18 2012
sbkelley
Hiking9.40 Miles 4,500 AEG
Hiking9.40 Miles   7 Hrs   30 Mns   1.25 mph
4,500 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Talk about an exercise in luck! En route to Mount Adams after a successful climb of Mt Baker, we stopped in Cougar, WA for the night. Knowing permits were hard to come by for a summit pass to St Helens, our motley group of five decided to walk in and try our luck. Worst-case scenario, we'd hike up to the legal 4800' level and get some good pictures. There were five of us and five permits left that day: how about that?

Only trouble was, we didn't finalize the permits until 10:00 a.m. that day and the permits were only available for the current day - time to get moving! Looking at the elevation gain and mileage, we all knew we'd be in for a full day: we all threw headlamps in the bag. This route was a nice change from the gear-heavy Baker and the snow-slog of Adams. In fact, I'd find out my Arizona desert hiking would provide a key advantage that my compatriots lacked!

As usual, the morning held full mist and terrible visibility in Cougar area, which persisted all the way to the trailhead. Somehow, people find this consistent weather endearing...

The first couple miles until the 4800' level are pleasant and easy. The trail rolls through an evergreen forest. We spotted red columbines near treeline and ferns were plentiful. After breaching 4800', the whole hike changes. The trail becomes rocky, and navigating becomes a matter of "pole to pole" - hiking from each 6' wooden post to the next. As we climbed above 5000', the clouds broke and we were in full sun. We looked across the ocean of cloud tops and then up into cobalt skies towards the distant St Helens crater rim. Long way to go to the top.

Shawn and JD set a steady pace ahead, while Alex got acquainted with rocky terrain in volcanic territory, a new sensation for her. For those of you that have hiked the Humphreys summit ridge, you'll be comfortable on this stuff. The black basalt absorbed the sun's heat and turned the hike into an oven, making progress difficult. The basalt portion of the trail becomes a bit of a maze, picking its way through blocks and rockbands, until reaching the upper pumice reaches of the mountain. From here, the routefinding is easier but the loose rock makes for obnoxious progress.

Sweat poured off of us as we admired views of Adams and Hood to the east and south. Dave, Alex, and I stuck together as we plodded up the hill, admiring nearby crevasses on neighboring glaciers. Shawn and JD waited as we neared the crater rim, and we all finished together as hordes of hikers headed down past us. Due to our late start, we enjoyed utter solitude and sunlight on the St Helens crater rim.

The view into the crater of St Helens is other-wordly. The north side of the volcano is still a zone of devastation, devoid of large-scale plant cover, but an amazing view. Loose rocks continually fell into the crater, and we admired the steam rising from the new lava dome building inside. We spent a good hour on top, drinking our summit beers and basking in the sun, looking at Rainier to the north. It was a sublime view. Daylight wasn't going to last forever, so we headed down.

Progress was steady on the descent, and we re-entered the clouds around 5000' again, emerging into the misty and rainy forest, wholly detached from the hot route above. When we finally returned to the trailhead, a boy scout troop was setting up camp in the mist and rain, but we headed down to Cougar for some food and beers, barely making it to the bar by the kitchen's closing time at 9 pm.
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot
_____________________
Jul 16 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Mount Baker, WA 
Mount Baker, WA
 
Backpack avatar Jul 16 2012
sbkelley
Backpack12.00 Miles 7,000 AEG
Backpack12.00 Miles2 Days         
7,000 ft AEG48 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
Partners none no partners
In February of 2010, I got a chance to visit Vancouver for the Olympic games. Off to the southeast, I saw a soaring, glaciated peak and its magnetic pull was unforgettable.

Four years ago, my good friends from Denver, Shawn Keil and Dave Gaffield, and I met a group from across the country to climb Mt Rainier together, and have stayed in touch ever since that successful trip. Two from that Rainier climb, Alex Gaskins and JD Schlandt, and another friend from CO, Caroline Moore, made our group of 6. We all met up near the SeaTac airport and caravaned to Bellingham. Driving east into the hills, we couldn't help but stare at the mountain looming nearly 9,000' above us.

Shifting to more practical matters, we unpacked our gear in the Mt Baker Lodge at the foot of the volcano, sorting out who would carry what, reviewing knots, hydrating, and finalizing our packs. We packed into the room, joking and playing music. The next 2 days offered unsettled weather forecasts, with chances of storms over 50%: chances of summitting looked questionable, but all we could do was be patient and get in good position.

We checked in with the rangers and headed up to the Heliotrope Ridge Trailhead. Earlier in Seattle, we had secured our Northwest Passes for the cars, so they wished us well and gave us a last-second report, highlighted by the uninspiring weather report. Rain drove against our windshields and visibility was poor. It was a quiet drive. By the time we'd reached the 3,000' level and the hike's start, at least the rain had ceased. Crowds of climbers were descending, and our spirits perked up when we realized almost all had made the summit. Tales of sunlight up higher and clear skies gave us hope in the Northwest mist.

With heavy packs, negotiating the climb and occasional log-covered, fast-moving river crossings proved challenging, but our group's progress was steady. Occasional snow began to interrupt the trail around 5,000', and soon we broke above the clouds and could see the picturesque Coleman Glacier to our left. Above treeline on the good trail, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Pitching camp on the last bit of dry ground before the glacier began, we hurriedly set up tents, melted snow for water and meals, and prepared our gear for the following day. With the wind, rain, and clouds, a summit bid beginning in mere hours seemed a pipe dream.

1 a.m. broke the next "morning", Shawn poked his head out of our tent, and his mood gave me all the indication of the weather outside: all good. Stars lit the clear sky above, though the wind still was a nuisance. Time to inhale some calories, put on clothes, and suit up. By 3 am, we were finally moving, with Shawn, Alex, and myself on Rope 1 and Dave, Caroline, and JD on Rope 2.

The climb was long - deceptively long - but steady. We moved underneath the Black Buttes and onto the Coleman Glacier proper. Occasional narrow crevasses laced the glacier, but at this point in the season, they were too narrow to be a concern. As daylight broke, we found a good bootpack, following this steady grade (no more than 25 degrees) all the way to the 9,000' saddle between Mt Baker and Colfax Peak.

The fun soon began. The angle increased as we gained the ridge, the wind howled and tossed us off-balance, and the track forced us to negotiate some loose pumice instead of solid snow and ice. Strong smells of sulfur occasionally wafted over from the Sherman Crater, reminding us that Baker is a dormant volcano. Still, we were finally in the sun and blue sky dominated the view, with Mt Rainier looming to the south. A few hundred feet later, we stared at the final obstacle, a 35-40 degree pitch, known as the Roman Wall. The exposure increased with the angle, and the views were spectacular. Soft snow conditions made traction more difficult as Shawn led our rope up at a steady pace. Alex, with such little snow experience, moved well. Dave, Caroline, and JD were directly behind me. After what seemed an eternity, we crested the wall and saw a welcome sight: flat ground and the true summit, close at hand! Coiling our rope, each time of three finished together, soaking in the panoramic and powerful view. At last, we stood atop Mt Baker's summit!

Getting on the leeward side of the peak, we refueling and rehydrated before starting down. Caroline prepared her skis and would stay near us throughout the descent. The descent of the Roman Wall was eventful! JD accidentially broke a trekking pole that he used in addition to his ice axe. Near the end of the pitch, Alex lost her balance and was unable to stop her slide, prompting me to arrest the rope team's fall. After that, it became a slog across the gentle glacier, dodging crevasses and fighting in vain to keep the sun from baking us. Our progress slowed as energy dropped. Finally, by about 3 pm, we descended the final slope above camp. Breaking camp was the last activity anyone wanted to do, but cold beer and thousands of calories in Bellingham was too much to resist. Thank goodness for longer days this far north.

It was a long and painful descent down the Heliotrope Ridge trail back to the car: river crossings were more swollen by the warm day and late hour, which required vigilance on tired legs. After crossing the final "crux log", it was all but over. After a 16-hour day, all six of us had stood atop Mt Baker and safely returned. Who could ask for more? The weather had held and we had another summit under our belts. IPA never tasted so good.
Meteorology
Meteorology
Glacier
_____________________
Jun 24 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Sundance CanyonPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Jun 24 2012
sbkelley
Canyoneering1.50 Miles 850 AEG
Canyoneering1.50 Miles
850 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
desert_boonie
Tmkelley
After finishing Bear the day before, Ken took our group over to the base of Sundance to get a preview. I was salivating over the storied rappel. THE rappel. So many stories and reverence are paid in the Arizona outdoors community to that big drop. Upon review, it deserves all the attention it gets.

Things aren't very dramatic at first, but as the canyon narrows up, that changes. When setting our rappel across the first pool, a couple came up behind us. Our group all swam and rappelled through, and we offered them the opportunity to move ahead of us since they were moving faster. The warm sun in the canyon bottom was great after the cold water.

The group was silent as the end drew closer and we knew what awaited.

The next swimmer wasn't bad, and then a new challenge appeared. Having to rappel into a pool where you can not touch bottom and get off rappel while swimming proved interesting. Ken, Mike, and Tanya went first and got out with ease. My job was to clean: having to pull the rope in the middle of the pool was not fun. After freeing myself, I grabbed an end of the rope and started swimming with all my might...and got nowhere fast, no matter how hard I pulled. Ken had been through this before, and bailed me out, jumping in and pulling the rope himself.

Shivering now, we set up the rappel into the keeper pothole, but a log ran from the entrance to the keyhole, so no swimming was required. So that left only one hurdle: in the small hallway before the end of the world, we set up a double-rope rappel, looked at each other and thought "no going back now!" We'd discussed earlier that I would take the plunge first and Ken would go last, putting Mike and Tanya in the middle, so they'd have a belay below and a safety check above. Pulling the heavy rope to my ATC and into the system, and running through the safety checks, I breathed deep and inched over...and looked down. Goodness gracious, that's a long way down!!!! :o :)

The ride turned into a free rappel before long and the views are unbelievable. The couple ahead of us waited at the bottom, taking pictures of us and moving our rope out of the pool at the base (thanks!) Everyone made their way down with a similar post-adrenaline rush look on their face. What a canyon!
_____________________
Jun 23 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Bear Canyon - West Clear CreekPayson, AZ
Payson, AZ
Canyoneering avatar Jun 23 2012
sbkelley
Canyoneering3.00 Miles 600 AEG
Canyoneering3.00 Miles   5 Hrs      0.60 mph
600 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
desert_boonie
Tmkelley
Well, this was a new experience...

After spending most of my days in Arizona seeking her summits and high places, it was time to explore what all this canyoneering fuss was about. Look what I was missing all this time! Although I learned a good lesson: invest in a wetsuit before doing more of this! :)

Ken organized a trip for this weekend, hoping to take our time through Bear on Saturday, then moving to Sundance for Sunday. He was the only one in our crew with any canyoneering experience, but we all had some rappelling and anchor-building background. His friend Mike joined us, and of course, Tanya was along!

The trailhead was busy on Saturday (and late Friday night, for that matter), but after we left the parking lot and began the bushwhack into Bear, things got much more quiet. Before entering the Narrows, a boy scout troop flew past us while we were setting up a rappel over a tricky chockstone. They jumped down a ledge a few yards off to our left, and we never saw them again.

The narrows were absolutely spectacular! Upon reaching the first swimmer, Ken went across to set up the rappel on the other side, which I would descend first. Being pretty warm and not knowing any better, I charged into the pool with neopyhte gusto....and promptly had the air sucked out of my lungs by frigid water! I clumsily swam across as Ken laughed, and he helped me get set up to descend. I rappelled down and made a bee-line for a nearby spot of sunlight. Mike and Tanya followed, also shivering, but smiling. He got to watch everyone's similar reactions as they entered and swam towards him. Everyone got down the main rappel in good style and we regrouped to warm up.

As we set up the next rappel, I was shivering from the cold while messing with some webbing...on a day when 95% of this state was broiling. After dropping into the water after the rappel, I pulled the rope and joined the crew on the other side. There was a bat hopping around on a log inside this pool and I thankfully avoided stepping on the poor guy.

One last swim and we were into the open and sunny canyon. Live and learn: it wasn't the rappels or technical parts that got me: it was the frigid pools. With Sundance and its pools looming, I knew I should at least bring dry, warm clothes for the big rappel.
_____________________
May 06 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
North Marciopa Mountains, AZ 
North Marciopa Mountains, AZ
 
Hiking avatar May 06 2012
sbkelley
Hiking2.00 Miles 600 AEG
Hiking2.00 Miles   3 Hrs   30 Mns   0.57 mph
600 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
After trading time periods of broken bone hiking hiatuses with Ken, we were both happy to get out in the Maricopas again. One day after the true Super Moon, we set off for the top of remote peak 1945 on the north end of the wilderness area, Ken's first hike after being cleared to do so again. Looked just like his old self, cruising up boulders, loose gravel and cholla to the sweeping top of this rugged and lonely peak. Tanya, Ken, and I watched the sun fade and awaited Luna with Prescott Liquid Ambers and a nice breeze to pass the time. What a show when the moon rose over the Maricopas! No need for a headlamp on the way down. Great to be out again together, and let's make this a no-hospital-visits year now!
_____________________
Apr 21 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Flatiron Hike - SuperstitionsPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 21 2012
sbkelley
Hiking6.40 Miles 2,780 AEG
Hiking6.40 Miles   4 Hrs      1.60 mph
2,780 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Had enough time for a quick, near-town a.m. hike with Tanya. For the early start, we were shocked at the volume of people on the trail, perhaps 50? Can't remember ever seeing that many people up here before, but it was a great morning for it.

Saw a diamondback rattler crossing the trail just before the climbing began, stretched out and looking like he'd just eaten. It's always days like this I forget the camera. Enjoyed the shady ascent and the hedgehog cactus blooms before making our way back down. Was already very warm by the time we returned to the car just shy of 11 a.m.
_____________________
Mar 03 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Quartz Peak Trail - Sierra EstrellaPhoenix, AZ
Phoenix, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 03 2012
sbkelley
Hiking5.20 Miles 2,550 AEG
Hiking5.20 Miles   4 Hrs   20 Mns   1.20 mph
2,550 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Tmkelley
After some plans fell through to backpack in the Supes, Tanya and I were able to show our friend Bret the Estrellas for the first time. Perfect weather out there, and probably saw ~20 people on the trail, which surprised me! Always a unique and amazing view sitting on those huge quartz boulders on top, looking at Phoenix on one side, and magnificent desolation on the other.
Culture
Culture
Cag Shot
_____________________
Feb 04 2012
sbkelley
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 11
 Photos 1,377
 Triplogs 184

35 male
 Joined Mar 29 2007
 Reno, NV
Big Horn PeakSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 04 2012
sbkelley
Hiking6.00 Miles 2,100 AEG
Hiking6.00 Miles   7 Hrs   30 Mns   0.80 mph
2,100 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
desert_boonie
Well it was worth the wait. After staring longingly at Big Horn time after time traversing I-10, an opportunity opened up with Ken and Justin to visit this mountain. Having hiked it before from its "standard" south slopes and face, Ken wanted to see what was on the north. From where we started, it sure looked steeper. We headed across the flat desert, wrapping around first the west side of the peak, and then climbed a broad gully on the northwest side, reaching the 2800' level in short order. Nothing sketchy yet, but we could see the cliffs and sheer faces above would prove tougher to negotiate. We found a good ledge system directly beneath its north face and traversed out onto the dramatic east face. Wow, what a view!

Time to contemplate our future. Sharp cliffs were all around us and we could tell we'd have to piece this puzzle together with patience. Ken and I first tried a face climb (maybe low 5th class), but without ropes - and more importantly, without being able to see what lay above - we nixed this plan. I spied a steep, but climbable, ramp off two gullies over from us that looked promising. It looked as if it could and should reach Big Horn's main ridge line. Horizontally, the top of the ridgeline was a few hundred yards away, but about 500' above. time for some fun :)

We downclimbed a short bit and found a narrow ledge that led to the ramp, scurrying up that with ease. A sharp drop off to the east of the ramp's edge kept our attention. After surmounting a short knife ridge, we came across our crux. Two options: a short face-climb or a chimney, which had a few hundred feet of exposure off to its right side. The face climb was technically harder, and Ken took that way while I stemmed up the chimney, feeling the rush of the void as I worked up. Justin and my friend Bo followed after we made our way up. Good stuff...

From there, the going was steep but nothing technical, allowing us to gain the main ridgeline just a short ways below Big Horn's summit. Incredible views in all directions and the air was clear today - what a sight! We topped out and watched Ken and Justin practice setting up a rappel anchor, and Bo soaked in the view of his first Western AZ summit. I broke down the anchor for them after they descended, and we all made our way down the east face route, completing a nice Tour de Big Horn.

We got cliffed out once on the descent, and once again Justin and Ken rappelled while I found a route around for Bo and myself. Back on the desert floor, we enjoyed the easy terrain back to the car.

What an adventure! Big Horn will not disappoint...
Culture
Culture
Canal - Aqueduct
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average hiking speed 1.11 mph
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