October 23rd, 2016 ~ Day 212
Today’s hike was in the Four Peaks Wilderness with a few of my friends to hike/climb Brown’s Peak, the tallest of the Four Peaks. I hiked this mountain about four years ago, but I didn’t make it to the top of the peak. I was talked out of it by the people in the group. This hike involves climbing up a chute about a half mile long and they wanted me to make sure I could get down, so once I came to the hardest part, I decided to turn around in case I couldn’t make it down the chute. That wasn’t going to happen today, today I was going to finish what I started years ago.
Samantha, Dominic and Kevin met up with me at the Target in Fountain Hills and from there we headed to the trailhead. We drove the Beeline Highway for about twenty minutes before turning off on the dirt road up the mountain to the trailhead. Today’s drive was worse than yesterday’s, it was two hours uphill dodging rocks and boulders on the dirt road. Luckily Samantha was driving today. I don’t think I could do a repeat of yesterday and one that would be three times longer.
Our hike began in the woods with the trees towing over us. I could see bits and pieces of color on the leaves off in the distance and there were boulders scattered about. So instead of staring at the clouds imagining what they looked like, we did the same imagining with the boulders on the mountain.
The trailhead begins at 5700 feet of elevation. The two mile hike up to the chute is a fairly easy trail. The 1900 feet of elevation gain really comes when you begin to climb the rocks. I was getting excited!
The manzanita trees were beautiful with small red berries growing on them. Walking through a trail of manzanita, it was like they were overtaking the trail. These are my favorite trees, and I have never seen them so tall. I love the colors the manzanita has to offer. The branches have a red bark that twists and becomes grey. The contrast is gorgeous to me.
It wasn’t just the manzanita that were taking over the trail either, all the brush was overgrown. I’m glad I wore pants today. My legs would be a battlefield of scratches had I not worn them.
The little bits of color I had seen as we began our hike was more than I expected. After the leaves of yesterday’s hike being on the ground, I was ecstatic to see leaves covering the trees. So many leaves, so many colors and still on the trees! Amazingly beautiful. I love the Autumn Season.
I’m grateful to finally see the leaves having colors. I’ve been given glimpses of the colors, from when I was in Illinois and Wisconsin where I was too early in the season, to being in Flagstaff where I was too late.
As we continued on, Samantha saw a tarantula crossing the trail. A tarantula, say what?! Never have I seen one in the wild. This is by far the craziest animal I have seen on the trail during this journey. Though spiders scare me, I’m grateful to have seen one in the wild. I never would have expected this and I love the surprises.
After our two miles of easy hiking, the hard part of climbing begins. Approaching the chute, it looked intimidating standing high above us. I was determined to make it to the top. The climb seemed easier than it looked. A class 3 scrambling up a scree filled collier.
Learning some terminology for climbing from my friends, I learned what a bomber is. A bomber being a rock or boulder that is secured to the ground, making a good hand hold to pull yourself up the side of the cliff. It wasn’t too difficult to find good rock’s to grip as I was climbing up .
Learning more new words, I had to pull what was called a beach whale. Climbing over a ledge, I had no place for hand or foot holds, so I used my belly. Luckily that only had to happen once.
The one thing that seemed the most dangerous to me on this climb was the loose gravel. Knocking a rock over the edge could hit anyone climbing up below, and it was easy to knock the rocks off accidentally. Depending on how big a rock is, could depend on how much damage that could be done. Yelling “rock” anytime you kicked one off the ledge, helped to warn the people below.
After the climb, we made it to the top!!! Now I can say this was easy stuff! I didn’t make it last time, but I wouldn’t be stopped today. Officially we were at the highest point in Maricopa County at 7657 feet. I’m so grateful to have this hike completed on this journey of 365 days of hiking.
The views from the top were stunning! From here you can see one fourth of the state of Arizona. Seeing Lake Roosevelt with the Payson Mollogon Rim behind, amazing! We sat at the top of the mountain for a half hour enjoying the scenery. I didn’t want to leave. It’s these moments where I wish I could stay here awhile if not forever.
Coming down the chute was easy enough. My biggest concern was kicking a rock and having it hit someone in the head. There was a father and son climbing out below us, the kid was scared, so we patiently waited for them to get out of the chute. Waiting on them it took us longer than expected get down.
Hiking the two miles out was easier than coming up. Downhill, I’m always faster. We finished our hike and drove the long drive down the mountain. I’m so grateful to have come on this journey today, to finish what I started all those years ago . Just another beautiful day in this life!