|Abineau and Rees Peaks via A-BJ Loop, AZ|| |
Abineau and Rees Peaks via A-BJ Loop, AZ
|Hiking||10.50 Miles|| 6 Hrs 58 Mns ||1.62 mph|
|4,261 ft AEG|| 28 Mns Break|
|My wife wanted to do a fitness test for our upcoming trip to Glacier. The Abineau-Bear Jaw Loop is a little shorter in distance than most of the Glacier hikes we have planned, but it packs about the right amount of elevation gain and at about the right altitude, so we zeroed in on this one.|
We were able to drive up Friday night, which allowed us an early start on Saturday morning. Hit the trail about 6:50 a.m. One other car in the parking area.
The only other time I've hiked this one, we took the loop counterclockwise, up Abineau. So, for variety's sake, we headed up Bear Jaw. The trail was gorgeous and having it to ourselves early in the morning, as the sun rose through the aspens, pines, and fir trees, with the birds singing the day into existence, was magical.
Other than a pair of trail runners, who passed us in the opposite direction just as we approached the final climb to the Waterline road, we didn't see a soul to that point.
At the Waterline junction, my wife found a comfortable spot in the shade and settled in to read a book, while I tackled a long-time objective of summitting Rees and Abineau Peaks.
The climb up to Rees from the Waterline Road gains about 1750 feet in 1.2 miles. Definitely gets the heart pumping. There is some deadfall to navigate right out of the gate, but it diminishes further up. The scree field (marked on my route) provided some relief from the deadfall and underbrush, and opened up first views to the north. After that, it was back into the woods (and welcome shade) for the upper half of the summit push.
About a 1/4 mile from the summit, I was near enough to the ridge into Bear Jaw Canyon that I took a quick jaunt to the west to view the canyon and look across and up to my second goal--Abineau Peak.
Shortly after resuming my climb, I topped out on Rees. Coming out of the forested climb and cresting the inner basin caldera, with the 5 other peaks instantaneously popping into view was awesome.
I signed the summit register and settled in for a mid-morning snack at what I believe to be the best lunch spot on the peaks. With a clear sky, no wind, and no other human being in sight, I took in a few calories and caught my breath, while admiring the impressive south-facing perspective across Caldera of Doyle, Fremont, and Agassiz--with the Weatherford trail slicing its way through, and with the Inner Basin pumphouse and "bus stop" almost 2,000 feet below, and with Abineau and Humphreys Peak at my right shoulder, also joining in the view.
Just off the summit to the west, Rees Peak is also home to the coolest-looking tree skeleton in the Peaks. Not sure what kind of tree it is, but its remains are a true work of Mother Nature's art.
After admiring the Rees summit "tree decor," I covered the brief descent on the west side of Rees and then began climbing again up to Abineau. There was a little more "choose-your-adventure" on the route up Abineau, mostly involving which side of the ridge to take when coming up to an obstacle. Mostly, I stayed to the right and that seemed to work well.
Just before the summit, I came to a boulder obstacle. On this one, I banked left which required a little hand-over-hand, Class 3 climbing, but nothing requiring major exposure.
The summit of Abineau is bare at 11,838 ft, allowing impressive 360-degree views, and, with its ability to give Humphreys some perspective (rather than being on top of it), I think Abineau provides the best vantage point to take in all of the peaks in one place.
After drinking my fill of the views, I realized I was a bit behind schedule for reconnecting with my wife, so I decided to see if there was cell reception on the summit. To my relief--but also disappointment--there was. I was able to readjust our meeting time and then started my descent.
On the way down, I visited the B-17 crash site and paid my respects. Crazy that this accident happened only three days after the better-know B-24 crash on Humphreys. Also, while the plane in this one was having a lot of other issues (it was on fire prior to crashing) and may not have survived in any event, the proximity of the crash to the top of the ridgeline suggests that it would have cleared the ridge with only a small amount of additional elevation.
The rest of the descent was uneventful, but seemed to take forever.
I reconnected with my wife on the Waterline Road, where she reported a handful of mountain bikers and a few groups of hikers passing on the loop. By that time, temperatures were rising and the sun was high, making shade along the road a scarce commodity.
Descending Abineau trail through the avalanche zone in the exposed sun cemented my preference for the Bear Jaw trail.
Back at the the trailhead, the temps were plus 90 degrees. Thankfully, a few clouds had developed and provided some protection from the sun as we traversed the last open section before the parking lot. All in all, some great nature therapy for the weekend!
Hit up Freddy's for frozen custard before heading back to the valley. Ended up having to divert through Payson at Camp Verde due to an accident closing down I-17. Poured rain between Pine and Payson. Probably the same storm that pounded the Valley later than evening.