Navajo Mountain Humphreys Peak
By: Patty Kline
The place is Arizona. The date is September 13, 1997 A.D., and the rest which is my quest for the list may well be the intended spoof on "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Our group of 6 met on US Highway 180, 8 miles north of Flagstaff at the signed road for the Arizona Snow Snow Bowl Ski Area. The big volcano of Humphreys Peak was lost in the mist. Little did we know this was the beginning of an El Nino year. No wonder the monsoon was late and heavy rains in September 1997 went from Mexico and Arizona- reaching all the way up to Zion. Our Knights of the Roundtable, who numbered 6, were Patty Kline, Bill Bradley, Rich Gnagy, John Dodds, Barbara Reber and Gary Craig. The knights wisely decided to drive some 3-4 hours north (after having a huge breakfast in which some of us partook of libation) to the roadhead for Navajo.
Entering the Navajo Nation, we stopped at a Trading Post in search of souvenirs in our quest for the Holy Grail. John Dodds took a Kachina Doll as treasure. At the northern end of our journey, which took us into the southern end of Utah, we were lucky that the dirt road hadn't turned to mud in the rains of the last few days. We camped next to a small radio repeater station on level ground. This was 5.8 miles and 3500 feet below the summit on a road impassible to all vehicles, even 4x4,only 1-2 mile beyond our campsite. Passage was possible to knights on horseback or mountain bikers. Sorry this is not a drive up.
The next morning we had a leisurely 7:30 am start. On the way was a sign, "White Man Go Home." At the radio towers is the top. We hiked about 3/4 mile beyond to an overlook of the upper reaches of Take Powell, Rainbow Bridge National Monument and Glen Canyon in bright blue and pink relief. The aspen on top of Navajo were turning yellow and orange. It was fall at 10,388 feet. After hiking down the road and breaking camp midafternoon, the group reduced in size. Rich went home. The 5 remaining decided to make yet another stab at Humphreys the next morning, Monday.
On Monday morning we reconvened at the Snow Bowl Ski Area road in a downpour so bad no one wanted to get out of their vehicles. As of this writing I have yet to climb Humphreys, over 6 months later. My other fall attempts were blocked by El Nino. Gary Craig waited until the downpour stopped and flashed the peak. He started hiking at 8:15 with 2 hours to the top, which was whited out. He left the top at 12:30 PM and was back to his car at about 1:30, just before the heavens opened up with a down pour. That was lightening fast for 10 miles round trip and 3200 feet of gain. Bill and Barbara went back home, while John and I explored the Museum of North Arizona in Flagstaff. It is worth seeing with great Native American exhibits as well as botanical and geological exhibits. We also saw Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, with heavy rain in the afternoon. Rain again, how strange!
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