Failing on Mount Humphreys, Arizona

This is not going to be a sugar/spice everything/nice post so skip this if you don't like negativity. First of all, I'm not that impressed with people from Phoenix, they have an arrogance about them that rubs me the wrong way. I have visited Sedona and Flagstaff which are perfectly nice places except for the obnoxious people that are there, the rude ones seem to hail from Phoenix. Think Annapolis. Mind you, there have been a few wonderful folks with whom I have conversed but the majority suck. Phoenix is off my list of places I wish to visit.

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. Update: New plan, I don't have the heart for the Grand Canyon, too many tourists, I am going to head northing into Utah.


Mr. Drew said...

Hi Cham,

I'm not a hiker, but I am a birder. Once I did a road trip kind of like your current one, and I went to Arizona and I hiked up a canyon south of Sierra Vista (possibly off Miller Canyon Rd.) I was hoping for trogons, but no luck there, I did see a Yellow-eyed Junco and a Bridled Titmouse though. Anyway, it was an amazing hike, at one point I was on this overlook, and there was a rock wall across the way and it was bright yellow from sulfur seeping out of the rock. South of Sierra Vista. It was cool.


some guy in Tucson said...

Phoenix was nice 20, even 10 years ago. It's been nothing but Californian's ever since then. Just like everywhere else, when you sell a 1.5 million dollar home and move to where homes are around $200k, Phoenix turned into "inland California East."

There's still good people there, just takes a little lookin'.

And the arrogance won't last. They built millions of homes, but very few jobs. Commutes are now horrible due to how far you have to go to find an affordable home, all the new homes for 15 years have bedroom communities with only Starbucks for jobs. Then there's the water and the way more concrete makes it hotter every year.

Don't let a few idiots don't represent the whole area. But for the record, Texas was the friendliest state I've ever lived or been in.

If you swing back this way, try Bisbee for the night. Nice little town.

Cham said...


I'm not a birder but I took a wonderful photo with my crappy digital camera of a cardinal that was redder than red. Amazing colors out here on the birds.

SGIT: Everyone in Arizona has been wonderful, except for these Phoenix people who definitely scream California. I am waiting for one of them to call me "dude", when that happens they will rue the day. Texans were great, so were the New Mexicans. There are definitely some serious commuters around here, I spent the night at the Cottonwood Wal-Mart right off of 89A, there was gridlock at 8AM of people heading south from Sedona to Phoenix. I guess you have to make the money to pay for that gated community in the middle of bumfuck.