I decided to attempt to highpoint Arizona which involved a mountain called Mount Humphreys. The trail to the top started at 9200 feet and the summit is at 12,633 so I thought this might be completely doable. I woke up in Flagstaff Saturday morning to falling snow but that rarely stops me. I hit the trailhead at about 9:30AM, the first 200 meters in were perfectly nice. Things went awry after that. Springtime has not visited Mount Humphreys yet at the end of April. Trail conditions were icy and treacherous, but that rarely stops me either. I came upon a trail club which will remain nameless. I decided to hike with them since I thought it would be safer.
Some members of the trail club started to turn back but the majority surged forth. I thought it was strange that none of the trail club people had poles or gaiters but who am I to judge?
Perhaps they do things differently out here or they are all superhikers. My poles were preventing me from falling on the ice and these folks were falling down left and right. I also noticed that none of the members of this club were speaking, we were hiking in silence. When I got to the treeline at 11,500 feet I noticed my tube had froze, so no water. I was feeling slightly light-headed from the altitude, it was starting to snow really hard and trail conditions were terrible. I told the group that I was going to head back and was very happy that I was not a member of this club so I could make the decision on my own.
This was the first time it took my longer to descend than ascend. I was happy when I got back to the trailhead. I headed to my car and heard a voice from the parking lot. Someone was asking me about the group at the top. I told them that I left them at the treeline and they were headed to the summit. The man said, "I am the group leader, I didn't feel the trail was safe so I returned. I am waiting for the rest of them to come down."
I had to ask, "Well, what are you doing at the parking lot while your own group is on the mountain?"
He said, "There is another group leader that is pushing them all to the top."
I replied, "Well, that guy is an idiot." Turns out these folks were training for some big hike and most of them had less than 2 months of hiking experience. The hike leader on the mountain was insisting they all attempt to summit, and refused to carry a phone to stay in communication with anyone else. Naturally, I had to give this leader at the trailhead a piece of my mind, he should have never abandoned his group. Now you all know that I am usually the queen of stupidity when it comes to hiking but this situation really took the cake. If my tube had frozen then their tubes were also frozen so none of them had water. There was no way to get anyone off this mountain had someone broken a limb, which very well may have happened given the trail conditions. Since this wasn't my club, my event, or my responsibility I decided to get away from this place as fast as possible. Can someone say "gross negligence"?
I'm making the rounds at different national monuments, Tonto, Tuzigoot, Saguaro, Sunset Crater and Wupatki.
Right now I am in Page, AZ.