Humphreys Peak, AZ

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Humphreys Peak is the highest point in <normally> warm Arizona.

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We were down in Phoenix at Joan's house for Christmas. Joan is Julie's mother.

The weather report was for a nice day on Christmas eve, then a storm that would drop the temperature and also drop some snow. I couldn't get Julie to go for it on Christmas eve, so we went the day after the storm.

We drove up to Flagstaff, leaving Phoenix at 3am, and had breakfast at Dennys. Walking from the car to the restaurant was painfully cold. (this picture was taken on our return)

Again, another picture from our return.

The normal route starts at the Ski Bowl, somewhere between Humphreys on the left and Aggasiz peak on the right. But when we started up the road, it was gated shut. What the heck?

We drove back down and stopped at a motel that was at the bottom of the road. The proprietor was quite nice and suggested there were other ways to go. Fortunately I had printed off some pages from SummitPost so had beta on another route.

But time was not on our side. We had a bunch more driving to do and roads to find. Then it was off on a lonely dirt road through the trees. Later the road condition deteriorated and the snow depth increased. We were following some tracks through fresh snow, but the width of our car didn't match, so we were bouncing around a lot. And we were dragging bottom.... just what I wanted to do- get stuck miles from the highway with no one around.

We finally got to the marked trailhead, but no one had driven the road. I wasn't familiar with or confident in Julie's car, so I did several laps around the parking circle to pack a track so I could get out.

I would later realize that Julie's car, with all-wheel drive, was never in any danger of getting stuck. But her car also has a thermometer, and it was -10°. Yes, ten below zero in Arizona.

We put on our snowshoes and took off. The trail followed a shady canyon, and it was cold. Too cold. I was wearing plastic boots, but Julie was in leathers, and despite the uphill climb and fast pace, her feet were going numb. We did the emergency thing: bare feet on my stomach. But I told here I was only willing to do it once. It didn't take, so we headed back down.

As we drove off, I stopped to take this picture of the snow plume coming off the summit. With wind like that, we weren't going to get to the top on this day, regardless.

Mr. Natural Home | 2003 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski