Humphreys Peak, Navajo Mountain, Mount Tipton
By: Greg Roach
This trip was originally scheduled and planned by Dale Van Dalsem. After his untimely passing the leadership was taken over by Dave Petzold. At the last minute Dave was unable to attend due to a serious illness in his family. Mirna and I were glad to lead this Memorial Day weekend trip in Dale's honor.
We almost did not make the Friday morning meeting time. As Mirna and I were driving out to Tipton Friday afternoon I noticed the amp gauge on my Jeep was discharging. I pulled off the Essex Road off ramp and lifted the hood. The alternator had quit. The bearings were gone; I disconnected the fan belts from the alternator and the engine started. We drove the Jeep 40 miles into Needles with the engine running on the battery only. The auto parts store in Needles luckily had a 86 Jeep alternator. I replaced the alternator and we were on our way. Fortunately we had left Friday morning for Tipton.
We met Saturday morning across from the lumber yard mentioned in the peak guide for Tipton. We found a good spot to camp Friday night about a mile down the dirt road from the lumber yard. Turn right (south) on a side road to a large flat area. The dirt lot across the highway from the lumber yard belongs to the lumber yard owners and I don't think they appreciated us parking there while we went hiking although he didn't come right out and say so. A good place to park the cars would be down the dirt road about one mile toward Tipton. The hike to Tipton went well. We drove to the 4WD spot mentioned in the Guide and hiked south up the canyon. At about 5400 ft near the saddle we changed direction and hiked NE staying near the ridge. This works well because there is not as much brush as south of the ridge. En route we spotted a rattlesnake on the ridge. On the return trip another rattlesnake made his presence known. We never saw the snake but we backtracked to avoid hiking between a large rock and the bush where the snake rattled loudly.
After Tipton we drove to our camping spot near Navajo mountain. Some of us stopped in Flagstaff for dinner at Cocos. Flagstaff is a beautiful forested area and we looked forward to the climb of Humphreys on Monday. After dinner we continued our drive out to Indian Country. We camped off Indian route 16 where the pavement ends. There is a beautiful slick rock canyon across the highway from where we camped. Unfortunately we didn't see the canyon until the next day on our way back to Flagstaff. We didn't have time to explore it anyway too much driving on this trip. As a sideline I would like to say that the Automobile Club's "Indian Country" map is a good road guide for this area.
Navajo Mountain isn't my favorite peak on the list. However it does expose one to the majestic geography of the Indian Country and the awesome beauty of the canyonlands and slick rock country of southern Utah. The view of Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge and the country north is the unique part of Navajo Mtn. These beautiful canyons are not on our "list" however any time you spend exploring it will be worth it. The Escalante River area and the Aquarius Plateau to the north are highly recommended.
There is a road up to Navajo Mtn that can be driven with 4WD. The road is steep in places but it has been graded recently and it is in better condition then the guide indicates. Our group, however, hiked the trail up in order to gain the full benefit of physical exercise and the road back down in order to see what the road looked like. This mountain has some beautiful pine and aspens' forests. We returned to Flagstaff area for dinner after the hike to Navajo Mt.. Our group split up here. Some returned home after Navajo, some camped at the KOA campground, some stayed in motels, and some of us camped in the National Forest. There are very good camping spots in the National Forest off highway 180 north of Flagstaff about a mile or two before the turn off to the ski area. There is a thick Ponderosa pine forest in this area with several dirt roads leading into them. I want to thank Bill T. Russell for telling me about this camping area.
Monday morning we regrouped at the ski area for our hike up Humphreys. We had to do some running around the ski area before we finally found the trail. The shortest way to find the trail is to walk up the gated paved road past the ski lodge. A use trail starts at the roads end and continues across the ski run. Cross under the ski left and pick up a signed trail for Humphreys peak in the forest at the north edge of the grass covered ski run. Red ribbons tied on the trees marked the switch backs. At about 10,900' we left the trail and headed up a gully directly toward the peak. This route avoided post holing along the trail were the snow had gotten deeper and was not packed down. The steep gully brought us to the trail once again at the top of the ridge. The trail on the ridge leads to the peak. Thanks to Bob Wyka for a description of this route. The summit rewarded us with a fantastic view of the Flagstaff area.
Thanks to everyone who joined us on this long weekend adventure. The participants were:
Edna Erspamer, Judy Ware, Ron Grau, Paula Peterson, Charlie Knapke, Vi Grasso, Gene Mauk, Pete Yamagata, John Connelly, Rich Gnagy, Delores Holladay, Jim Fujimoto, David Hammond, Tom Moumblow, Ron Young, Jeff Koepke, Mirna Roach, Eric Beck, and Theresia Beck.
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