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Apache Peak 7711 - Hi Pt Whetstone Mtns - 0 members in 7 triplogs have rated this an average 0 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Jan 07 2017
AZHiker456
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 Guides 28
 Routes 197
 Photos 7,418
 Triplogs 184

38 female
 Joined Nov 07 2015
 
Whetstones By Storm, AZ 
Whetstones By Storm, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jan 07 2017
AZHiker456
Hiking16.60 Miles 5,009 AEG
Hiking16.60 Miles   11 Hrs   3 Mns   1.60 mph
5,009 ft AEG      40 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
At just over 11 hours, just over 16.5 miles, and 11 peak bagged [including three named peaks: Granite, French Joe and the Whetstone’s Highpoint, Apache] this adventure was none other than tarzan swinging' EPIC! Even the drive in was a total joy; and I mean that literally, not sarcastically…

…access to Apache Peak has reputation for being a total bitch. There is the infamous Western approach [via Empire ranch], which involves over 15 miles of dirt road, with the last 4-5 miles being so horrendous that, [when I was there in Dec. 2015], I actually had the person who was driving stop the vehicle, [a Chevy Avalanche w/ off-road tires], so I could get out and walk part of road, fearing that the massive ruts might flip the vehicle. The Eastern approach [via the road leading in toward French Joe Canyon] is supposedly better… but from the HAZ Description [ description ] , still not great AND on top of that, wasps at time of year when the Whetstones were partly covered in snow made French Joe Canyon a less than appealing option.

A few months ago, my realtor showed me some homes in the Rain Valley area of Elgin, and I was surprised at just how close to the Whetstones it was; and the roads seemed very accessible and in GOOD condition. Shortly after moving to Elgin, I used Route Scout to map some driving options into the Whetstones from that area [Southern Approach]. I could see some ruts from satellite imagery – as well as some gated areas – and until I tried it today, I just didn’t know how things would pan out. To my very pleasant surprise, it was only about a 5 mile drive in and took about 25-30 minutes, [a good chunk of which was due to having to get out 4x to open/close gates, [a few of which were quite stubborn]. The road conditions were very, very good though; unfortunately not ‘car good’; but very easy/doable in my Forester. If Sedona’s Schnebly Hill Road is a 10/10 on the ‘shit factor scale’ for a high clearance vehicle, then I ‘d give this road a 4/10.

As for the hike… [never expecting to be able to drive in as far as I did], I was initially planning to go for just Granite Peak and any other UN Peaks nearby… but after making it all the way to Bear Corral, [located at the base of the ridgeline I’d planned to ascend en route to Granite Peak], I knew that the longer route I drawn, [which incorporated the big ass, N-S running ridgeline with many of the Whetstone’s 7,000’er’s], was well within striking distance, and I decided to go it.

The entire ridgeline was routed; in some places it felt like a full out trail, and in other places it felt like a gnarly bushwhack. The brush wasn’t too bad, but there were a few places that were very steep and required some bouldering; so even a little brush made it more challenging, [especially while trying to make good time]. Interestingly enough, some of the best-routed areas along the ridgeline was within the section starting shortly after coming off Granite Peak, [a little before UN 7072], up to the saddle area just after UN 7104… while the worst section by far was just after UN 7104 while approaching “The Nub” [more on this in a minute…], right up to the final saddle area to the SE of Apache Peak. This was opposite of what I expected; I thought the section of ridgeline near French Joe Peak, [and especially the section between French Joe and Apache], would have the best route; but this was definitely not the case!

As for what I referred to as “The Nub” above… it’s the 3rd prominent point [if using CalTopo] and 2nd prominent point [if using FS Topo] along the ridgeline after UN 7104, heading North, toward French Joe Peak. Let’s just say, how this little Nub did not end up with even a UN designation on the Topos is beyond me. Unlike several of the UN Peaks that I bagged, [which I would not have even considered prominent points, let alone peaks if the topos did not label them], “The Nub” is quite prominent…and unlike many of the UN Peaks “The Nub” was a total motherpumpkin! There were many cliffy sections, [which proved easy to work around]; and the boulders that were solidly ‘rooted’ into the Earth were very reliable… but with several medium sized rocks that were not reliable, along with a steep grade and loose footing, ascending this little Nub proved to be one of the most challenging parts of the whole adventure.

As for views, they were absolutely sensational throughout! In terms of the named peaks, I liked Granite and Apache the best but there were several UN Peaks and/or miscellaneous points on the ridgeline that were just as awesome. In December of 2015, I physically bagged Apache Peak, but at that time, visibility from the peak was literally about 15-20 feet due to a snowstorm. I rarely repeat hikes/peaks, but as beautiful as the Whetstones are, it’s been eating away at me not to have gone back and experienced this peak in terms of its awesome views. Today I did just that, and getting closure felt so nice.

As for summit registers: I found one on Granite Peak, nestled under the rocks by its extremely obvious highpoint; and two registers on Apache Peak, [also nestled under some rocks by its extremely obvious highpoint]. As for French Joe… I found some sort of register, but I think it may have been a geocache register.

My return was absolutely epic. I’d drawn out a few route options, but I really just kind of free-styled it based on the terrain. I took a LONG, never-ending ridge ride off Apache, staring off the SE, [the same ridge that I took with the hiking club when I did Apache Peak in Dec. 2015]. However, after about 1/2 mile when the original SE ridge branches into smaller ridges, I opted for a ridge to the South of the one I took in Dec. 2015. When I finally reached the bottom, [about 2.5 miles after having departed from Apache Peak], it was almost dark. I ended up on a ‘finger’ of ridge that was cliff-like on all sides. Luckily one side had a lot of sand, [which proved to offer a lot better grip than I anticipated, especially given the grade], and I scrambled down into a drainage, which is where I was supposed to pick up a trail. However, no sooner do I spot the trail when I also spot some very cool ruins of an old corral and home [or barn]. CalTopo did not show anything, but after I returned and overlaid my route with FS Topo, I saw that this is the Shack Corral. It was extremely neat, and it must have been an amazing little get-away.

After briefly visiting the Shack Corral, I picked up the trail for all but a fraction of a mile. The trail seemed headed in the wrong direction and I was kind of worried that I might have picked up a trail not shown on the topos. With almost no daylight left, I instinctively / intuitively just started free-styling, using the line-off sight / old fashion method, [which I’m becoming quite fond of]. With the many ridges coming off the mountain, [and many of them having small cliff walls], an ‘as-the-crow-flies’ approach would not have been optimal with no daylight.

Just before reaching for my headlamp, I spotted a more major looking drainage, [which proved to be Wild Cow Canyon]. It was very easy to aim for, the topo contours leading into the canyon were extremely gradual, and if I headed into the canyon, it would lead me to a jeep road in a little over 1.5 miles [vs. nearly 4 miles of bushwacking if I opted for the [as-the-crow-flies approach]. I reached for my headlight right at about the 5,240’ contour line, just North of Wild Cow Canyon. The last place I wanted to be in pitch darkness when the critters tend to come out is in a canyon, so initially I attempted to contour but there were lots of boulder crags, and the going was not exactly smooth. Thus, at a very gradual / easy place to enter the canyon, I decided to take my chances and go for it…

…let’s just say, my apprehension at having to bushwhack for another 1.5+ miles, off-trail in pitch darkness in bear / mountain lion / God knows what else territory suddenly went out the window when I entered this canyon. There were endless, beautiful pools of water, super neat rock formations, and even a mini-waterfall… and best of all, no waterfalls / other places that involved cliffing out. With the Whetstones practically in ‘my backyard’, I will definitely be making a return to this canyon to see it in the daylight… and making it a priority to find an easier way in…

…as if there weren’t enough challenges on this adventure, the point where I planned to scramble out of the canyon was steep and cliff-like [gotta love those occasional, damn generalizations of the topo contours…]. Somehow with only the light of my headlamp, I managed to find some animal routes, and a few basic Class 2.5-3 climbs later, I had made my way up the small cliffy area and onto the jeep road at the top. From that point, it was smooth sailing for just over 1.5 miles along very easy jeep road back to my vehicle.
Culture
Culture
Summit Register Log
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Dec 12 2015
iborrego
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 Triplogs 348

26 male
 Joined Oct 13 2012
 Tucson, AZ
Apache Peak 7711 - Hi Pt Whetstone MtnsTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 12 2015
iborrego
Hiking11.20 Miles 3,600 AEG
Hiking11.20 Miles
3,600 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Snow!
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Dec 12 2015
AZHiker456
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 Guides 28
 Routes 197
 Photos 7,418
 Triplogs 184

38 female
 Joined Nov 07 2015
 
Apache Peak 7711 - Hi Pt Whetstone MtnsTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Dec 12 2015
AZHiker456
Hiking5.84 Miles 2,306 AEG
Hiking5.84 Miles   5 Hrs   22 Mns   1.24 mph
2,306 ft AEG      40 Mns Break
 
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Peter_Medal
Part 1 = Car-camping / the road to the TH [cuz Belinda was not kidding about it being half the adventure!]. I did this hike with a few others from the TLC Hiking meetup group. Peter and I decided to deal with most of the dirt road the night before rather than wake up well before the pumpkin crack of dawn the morning of the hike. We launched later than expected and it was pitch dark by the time we made the turn off for Empire Ranch / dirt road segment. I think the first 3-4 miles were actually paved and the next 5-6 were dirt but in excellent condition / doable in a passenger car. The first 9 miles from the turnoff were a breeze, and after that things got progressively got worse. In pitch darkness, we didn't see many places to pull over let alone set up camp. At 16.5 miles when things REALLY started to get bad, we luckily found a place; [cuz within a quarter mile after that proved to be the two worst segments of the entire road].

With the help of Peter getting out to spot me several times, some skill, and LOTS of luck, I somehow managed to avoid hitting bottom with my Forester on the drive in. The drive out the next day was far worse, due to off and on rain and snow that started in the middle of the night and continued throughout the day. I bumped bottom three times on the way out, which does not happen to me very often! Luckily no damage was done. With under 9' of ground clearance, I need to 'nail my lines' perfectly to clear larger boulders and the mud made it nearly impossible to do. Given the conditions, I honestly was not expecting to make it out without major damage.

After arriving, I helped collect rocks from which Peter built an awesome fire ring and then got a fire going for a good hour or so before we headed off to sleep. The night seemed calm and relatively warm given the altitude and time of year, but a few hours later we woke to wind, rain, thunder, and lightning that seemed to go on forever. By morning the temps had plummeted and there was a light dusting of snow where we were camped. My Forester proved to be very comfortable and warm, [even with windows cracked and rain/snow coming in]; but poor Peter got a bit of water in his tent. The next morning, he came into my car to warm up [and dry his gloves that had gotten drenched]. We were then going to start walking the last 3.5-4 miles of dirt road to the TH. However, TLC's leader Eric was ahead of schedule and after only a few minutes, his Avalanche came into view. He offered to wait for us so we scrambled to get ready and then piled in. I squeezed into the back with two others and Peter and his dog crammed into the bed.

Eric is extremely skilled at driving rough, muddy roads. His slowest mile on the horrendous, final four mile stretch was 6 min 35 sec and he never at any point felt that he was endangering any of the passengers. Nonetheless, there were two stretches of EXTREMELY rutted road just before the 17 mile mark that were so bad I literally thought we were going to flip over for a few seconds. It was one of the scariest feelings. On the way back, Peter and I actually got out of the Avalanche and walked up one of those segments. Enough said!

Onto the hike: I didn't bother to study the trip reports but apparently there are two main approaches at the beginning: riding the ridge or up the canyon. Eventually, both meet at a saddle, and from there onwards, you're riding the ridge the rest of the way to the peak. We opted to the ride the ridge on the way up. There appeared to be a faint trail / route but with a few inches of snow it was hard to tell. At the TH, we said huge bear tracks and I fired my gun twice before we took off just in case the animal(s) were still nearby. Peter fired his about half a mile later when we saw many more tracks. Further in to the hike we saw mountain lion tracks. Some people seemed freaked out but I wasn't fazed; [these animals normally live in this kind of habitat; the snow just makes their presence more obvious. Besides, four of the six of us had guns and one person brought bear spray].

The snowy conditions made it a very slow go and we clocked in at around 59:00 min for the first mile and over 50:00 minutes for miles two and three. At one point on the ascent, Eric exclaimed that we are on the wrong ridgeline. He was going off a paper map while I had both our exact route & location [AND the location of Apache Peak] pinpointed on my GPS with Route Scout. Another member of our group who was also using a GPS app confirmed that the way I was headed was correct. All but Eric opted to follow the way I was headed. [Eric proceeded to head down into a canyon and was planning to head up the next ridge – which, according to Route Scout, would have taken him to French Joe Peak. Somehow, he eventually figured out on his own that he was wrong and – despite going about a full mile or so out of the way – nearly caught the group. With uphill being my forte, [and starting to freeze my pumpkin off the higher we climbed], I pulled away the last mile and made summit in 2 hr 58 min. The rest of the group was not far behind, making summit in around 3 hr 15 min. Eric reached the peak about 5 min after them.

The views were exceptional on the way up but a cloud cover had moved in so we had no views from the summit. Peter somehow managed find three summit registers and then sign us all in, despite not being able to feel his fingers. After reaching the summit, I was so cold that I didn't even attempt to look for the register(s). Not only couldn't I feel my fingers, they were starting to get painfully cold and it was a pretty scary feeling, given that I usually fair far worse in cold temps than the average person. Luckily on the way down, the sun came out for a short while. About 45 minutes after leaving the summit, I was able to feel my hands again and even take some photos on the way down.

On the descent, Eric was way ahead of the group. As we approached the saddle where you have the option of continuing to ride the ridgeline back to the TH or take the canyon route, I asked Peter if he wanted to try the canyon route. According to Route Scout, it would literally be like traversing the hypotenuse of a triangle; a direct line, 'as the crow flies', from the saddle back to the TH; [vs. the ridgeline, which would be the equivalent of traversing the other two sides of the triangle]. Peter was totally game and even said that he mentioned this option to some of the others who brushed it off.

As we headed toward the edge of the saddle [half expecting a hardcore bushwhack into a canyon], we were in for pleasant surprise: there was a full out route that, [even partially covered in snow], was more defined than some trails. Peter and I, along with two others who joined us, made it from the saddle back to the TH in about 15 min [vs over an hour had we gone back by way of the ridgeline]. We even got back a few minutes before Eric, who had a huge lead on us.
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1 archive
Mar 02 2014
Pivo
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 Guides 2
 Routes 331
 Photos 4,052
 Triplogs 3,158

63 male
 Joined Mar 01 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Apache & French Joe Peaks, AZ 
Apache & French Joe Peaks, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 02 2014
Pivo
Hiking6.06 Miles 3,124 AEG
Hiking6.06 Miles   7 Hrs   12 Mns   1.28 mph
3,124 ft AEG   2 Hrs   27 Mns Break30 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Baja Arizona Hiking
GrottoGirl
RedwallNHops
The long "short" hike. We were able to drive all of the way to the trailhead; that saved us 6-8 miles on foot. The drive in was rather adventurous, it rained heavily the night before, making road conditions very muddy. Due to our tires being choked with mud, we had to actually work the vehicles to get where we wanted to start the hike.

There was a very faint route to start, however that quickly disappeared, and we were left with Belinda's plotted route. Lots, and lots of shin daggers, yet pretty straightforward route to Apache Peak.
After a lunch break and some clothesline time, to dry shirts; the humidity was almost tropical, we headed to bag French Joe Peak.
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Wildflowers Observation Light
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Mar 02 2014
GrottoGirl
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 Guides 3
 Routes 305
 Photos 11,123
 Triplogs 1,266

44 female
 Joined Sep 18 2009
 Tucson, AZ
Apache & French Joe Peaks, AZ 
Apache & French Joe Peaks, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 02 2014
GrottoGirl
Hiking6.06 Miles 3,124 AEG
Hiking6.06 Miles   7 Hrs   12 Mns   1.28 mph
3,124 ft AEG   2 Hrs   27 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Partners partners
Baja Arizona Hiking
Pivo
RedwallNHops
The road was half the adventure of this hike. The roads were extremely muddy but with a LandCruiser and Toyota Tacoma we managed to drive the entire road to the drop off. That was an experience to say the least.

We had a crew of 7 which is good for a off trail exploration. Any more and you start to lose people...

We started in a creek bed. The walls of the canyon where pretty and impenetrable. We found two ways out to get up on our intended ridge. The ridge route was full of pokey things and lots of limestone. I think I only crawled once or twice. Navigation was easy.

Apache was pretty but I really liked French Joe. French Joe has a nice view down into French Joe Canyon. We saw mostly SAHC names on both registers. It's always fun looking through them seeing who we know. The Apache register dates back to 1970!

On the way down we contoured around Apache peak to add to the adventure. This required a bit of scrambling.

On the way out, we made a turn and Joel exclaimed, 'That's a road?' A hill we went down seemed even more monstrous on the way out! In one spot, Mike had his truck 3 wheeling! If you attempt this be prepared to beat the crap out of your vehicle and keep your windows up as I saw cholla, catclaw, and other brush and trees scrape the window I was looking out!
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HAZ - Hike HAZard
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Wildflowers Observation Light
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Mar 02 2014
RedwallNHops
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 Guides 1
 Routes 7
 Photos 252
 Triplogs 959

44 male
 Joined Dec 22 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Apache & French Joe Peaks, AZ 
Apache & French Joe Peaks, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 02 2014
RedwallNHops
Hiking6.06 Miles 3,124 AEG
Hiking6.06 Miles   7 Hrs   12 Mns   1.28 mph
3,124 ft AEG   2 Hrs   27 Mns Break
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners partners
Baja Arizona Hiking
GrottoGirl
Pivo
Fun and not too difficult bushwhack. I am really glad we didnt have to hike any of the road.
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Wildflowers Observation Light
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Nov 03 1995
mazatzal
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 Routes 31
 Photos 2,173
 Triplogs 1,078

62 male
 Joined Jul 28 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Apache Peak 7711 - Hi Pt Whetstone MtnsTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 03 1995
mazatzal
Hiking8.00 Miles 2,750 AEG
Hiking8.00 Miles
2,750 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
The road in to French Joe Canyon got a bit rough so I stopped and started hiking. I followed the road past the spring to the base of the climb and took a difficult off trail route up to the ridge SE from French Joe Peak. Then along the ridge to bag Apache Peak.

On the way down I took a ridge before French Joe Peak and dropped into upper French Joe Canyon - it was a brushy descent. French Joe Canyon had a couple of drop offs but they could be easily bypassed.

After the hike I camped beside FJC and took a longer route back to the valley via Hwy 86, Kitt Peak, and the back road to Casa Grande.
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average hiking speed 1.33 mph

WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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