Saturday, June 6, 2009

Humphrey's Peak

Several months ago the Deseret News did an article on climbing Humphrey's Peak , at 12,633 feet, the tallest mountain in Arizona. It brought back some fun memories. The article says, "Hikers need to be cautious of incoming thunderstorms...as lightning is the main hazard above 12,000 feet." I knowingly knodded my head. One thing I learned from the article is that the San Francisco Peaks used to be one gigantic 15,000 foot volcano, with a pyramid shape, like Mt. Fuji, about 200,000 years ago. It exploded or collapsed and left Mt. Humphreys and four other nearby peaks. It also states that the Highpointer's Club (America'sroof.com) ranks Humphreys as the 10th hardest climb of the state peaks.

Below is Humphrey's Peak, near the trailhead at about 9,500 feet.


The following is something Judy wrote after we made the climb:

"Sept. 9, 1998

Last weekend we drove to Flagstaff to climb Mt. Humphreys, the tallest mountain in Arizona (12,000+ feet). It was a little disastrous. We woke up Sat. morning to a terrible electrical storm, but since it moved over us quickly, we decided to hike anyway. We got on the trail at 6:45 A.M. It was 4.5 miles to the summit. With about a mile to go, it started to storm again, and I mean STORM. The clouds blew in incredibly fast, and thunder and lightening hit about every 30 seconds. It drizzled, then hailed. We were above tree line, and the wind was very strong. We were miserable. When lightening came fairly close, Sam, who is afraid of lightning, refused to go on. His attitude had been bad from the start anyway. We had maybe 1/4 mile to go, but it was very steep and completely unprotected from the elements. We decided I would head back down to tree line with the boys, and Bob and Rachael would summit anyway. We turned around. When hit some shelter, we stopped for lunch. We were drenched and cold. My knees started to ache. Sam did an attitude turn around and became very supportive, telling me to try not to think about my knees and not to stop. He was great. The storm did not let up. About half way down, Bob and Rachael caught up to us. They had made it all the way, and Rachael was feeling pretty good. She loves her mountain-climbing connection to her dad. At this point, all three kids were doing amazingly well, and I was the wimp of the group. The rain stopped with about a mile or so to go, and we made it to the car muddy, smelly, exhausted, and cold. It's amazing how something so awful can be so fun. Thanks, Bob"

Below, the summit, shrouded in mist, as Rachael and I approached. At about this point, our hair started standing on end from the electricity in the air from the thunderstorm.

The summit sign.

Because of the lightning danger, we quickly had someone take our picture on top, and hurried back down the mountain.

Rachael was 17, Sam 13 and Andrew 10. It remains a fun memory.

2 comments:

  1. This is a scary post considering someone was struck and killed by lightning a couple of days ago not far from here on a city street. Geesh, Bob, the things you put me through.

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  2. This was one of my all-time favorite family hikes. Despite the fact that we were pretty stupid to run for the peak, I'm still glad we did it. :-) Makes for an awesome memory, even though I would NEVER want my girls to do the same thing in the same situation!

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