ARIZONA CHALLENGE DAY 7: Peterson Peak
On the morning of day 7 we were surprised by enormous wind gusts that seamed to be almost strong enough to knock us off of our feet. Tom and I managed to find a stone to use as a wind screen for our stove as we made our morning coffee. The possibility of postponing the trip a day crossed our minds, but we decided to brave the wind, and make a summit attempt. We estimated that in order for us to summit the peak, and return to camp in one day we would need to cache some of our gear to make our packs lighter.
I used an army poncho to camouflage my gear at the bottom of an old Apache pine. For this day we would carry only water, what food we had, and emergency bivy gear. From camp, to summit, and back would amount to just over 10 miles of rugged travel.
The trail was steep, as we'd expected, but the wind kept the temperature relatively cool. The dry winds blew dust at us all day as we climbed in elevation. The wind wasn't the only thing that ticked us off that day though. Around 8500 feet we experienced a major sign of illegal immigration. The sides of the trail were heavily littered with cans, clothing, old backpacks, and water bottles. None of the litter we encountered was recent, but we were still heavily saddened by what we saw.
We reached the summit a little bit after 12pm. It was really a beautiful, challenging climb, but our minds couldn't escape the thought of all the trash that litters these mountains. This expedition isn't making me a big fan of illegal aliens. We stayed only long enough for me to make a couple of phone calls, and to take a few pictures documenting the litter that we saw.
The hike back to our gear turned into more of a pain march after a while. This peak was steeper than most that I've climbed in my life, and my legs let me know that. At one point Tom picked up his walking stick and jogged down the trail for about 50 yards doing his "Apache run" or whatever he had called it. It made me laugh. Show-off.
Just as we had returned to camp the wind picked up. We thought it had been bad in the morning, but by the time we returned the gusts had doubled in force. Our original plan was to make a big dinner to celebrate the summit, but fearing the fire danger, we just cracked open a couple cans of sardines and hunkered down.