Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Harcuvar Highpoints

Smith Peak - 5,254ft
Aguila, Arizona
Mileage - 8.17
Time - 2:43
AEG - 2,689ft

Harcuvar Peak - 4,618ft
Wenden, Arizona
Mileage - 6.75
Time - 2:39
AEG - 2,355ft

On one of the coldest days of the year (and a near record low), Matt arranged a small group of people to hike in the Harcuvar Mountains near the tiny town of Aguila, Arizona which is approximately two hours West of Phoenix.  On Sunday morning, only Matt and I showed up.  Group hikes are always a blast, except they tend to make things a little more logistically challenging at times.  Now that it was only the two of us, we realized a possiblity that existed; we could summit both Smith and Harcuvar Peaks given their close proximity and knowing our rate of travel. This would allow us to take advantage of the long drive and bag two prominent peaks (numbers 31 and 66 respectively) in a relatively remote part of the state.

The challenge was getting there.  Reaching the trailhead for Smith was fairly straight forward, it just took a while. Also, the distance for each hike turned out to be longer than anticipated because of where we parked due to rugged, washed out road conditions. Smith Peak wasn't anything to write home about, other than being the highest point in the range.  Granted the mountain is designated as a wilderness area, the road to the top and cell towers make this hike a little less interesting.

We completed this one by 1:00pm and made a bee-line for the Harcuvar Trailhead.  I tried to piece together three different sets of directions to find where to begin.  Matt and I spent two and a half hours in the car scouting the area, driving through farm fields, and finally crossing paths with a rancher that granted us access across his land to find the four-wheel drive road to Harcuvar (left). 

The clock was ticking and we were losing daylight as it was now 3:30pm.  Probably not the best time to start a very remote off-trail hike on the coldest day of the year I thought.  With all the lucky breaks we caught getting there, it felt like we had to go for it.  Often times I get a bad gut feeling about these types of situations, but today was long as we didn't make any route-finding mistakes. 

The adrenaline was pumping from the start as Matt and I hiked/ran the remaining part of the road and up a drainage to reach the saddle where the real scramble would begin across the ridgeline.  The sun continued to drop along with the temperature.  Estimated mileage roundtrip listed three miles.  Not for us.  The parking situation tacked on nearly two miles each way adding to the challenge.  Pressed for time and daylight, turning back sounded like a good idea many times. We pressed onward and upward. At 5:00pm Matt and I had successfully summited Harcuvar and the picture below shows genuine satisfaction for such a hard effort.  This trek was as mentally stimulating as it was physically exhausing, and I loved every minute of it!  This one is definitely for the books. 

Matt and Boone at the summit of Harcuvar Peak - 4,618ft

An unbelievable desert sunset in the Haruvar Mountains (Photo by Matt Kalina)

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