Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weatherford Trail 07/31/10

Mt Humphreys via Weatherford
Coconino National Forest
Flagstaff, Arizona
Mileage 23.25
Time 7:27
AEG 5072ft

Rain was the theme of the day, beginning with a torrential downpour at 1:00am in Phoenix and holding steady all the way to Flagstaff. As we arrived, the mountain range was completely engulfed in a storm cloud that didn't look promising for our 23 mile hike.

The seven of us left the trailhead at 7:45am with a light drizzle quickly turning into a heavy rain coming down from the mountains. I intended to run the entire 11.5 miles to the summit in preparation for my next race, although...two miles in, I had to break under the shelter of a large Ponderosa Pine. The group pressed on and caught up to me. After much contemplation whether or not we should continue hiking (or go for coffee) we decided to hike an additional mile and see what happened with the weather. The further we went, the better things looked. Two miles became four, then four became seven and before we knew it, the summit looked like a feasible goal.

Surrounding views were absolutely amazing, the forests appeared to be on fire with bright white clouds spewing up from each side canyon and ridgeline. Often times the summit completely disappeared as passing vapors were so thick I could literally touch them with my hands. As challenging as the conditions were with the rain, it really made the hike more interesting and reaching the summit all that more rewarding. I broke away from the group in the final mile on our way to the top, upon reaching the peak, I was treated to a little solitude above the clouds on Arizona's tallest mountain at 12,633ft. This would be the fourth time I've summited this peak in the last two years, and each time it's an entirely new experience. It always amazes me that I'm still in Arizona. The Weatherford trail has to be one of my personal favorites in the state for a number of reasons, mainly because it's runnable, which is what Matt and I did on the way back down.

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