This last Saturday I hiked up Humphreys Peak with my classmate that’s also here for internship. He had heard about the hike and on Friday we had just driven up to the start to check it out and decided to hike it the next day. It sounded like he knew enough about the hike for us to be able to do it and the sign said it was a 4.8 mile hike (one way) so I figured that was enough info for me to be able to do it the next day. We got to the parking lot somewhere between 8 and 8:30am on Saturday. There were a ton of cars in the lot but fortunately not too many people were starting right at the same time that we were. I realized I forgot my Camelbak at home in Iowa so I ended up hiking with just one of those basic drawstring gym bags which actually looked out really well. I had also decided to use my Garmin 410 watch with the heart rate monitor for the hike which turned out to be a great idea. The hike is 4.8 miles one way which means 9.6 miles round trip, so it’s not a quick hike. I think the elevation started somewhere around 9,500 ft, maybe a little lower than that.
We started hiking and quickly were into the trees and stayed that way until we were above tree line.
The trail was pretty rocky but not too hard to handle. The hike really wasn’t too steep except for one area maybe 3 miles or so up that my calves were not very happy with me, besides that my legs actually didn’t feel too bad going up. Breathing on the other hand was a challenge. We really didn’t have to stop much on our way up but breathing just felt difficult and my heart was definitely working to keep up. I checked my Garmin and my HR was between 170-180 bpm for most of the hike up. 170 bpm and lower is usually my average HR when I’m running, so it was not an easy hike. We got to the “saddle” where the two trails actually split off, one goes to Humphreys Peak and then I think there is also another peak. Up to the Saddle and past it to the peak the trail gets a lot more rocky and requires some big step ups and a little more “climbing”. It’s not too difficult but it was very slow.
I think it’s about 1.25 miles from the saddle to the peak but it took around an hour which was a lot slower than our pace for the rest of the hike. Once you’re out of the trees it just got progressively windier and colder. It was a really nice day out but the temperature dropped significantly as we climbed higher. After 3 false peaks we finally made it to the top after just over 3 hours. Having my Garmin was great because I knew exactly how much farther we had to go, no tricking me silly mountain. It was so windy!! Like ridiculously windy, it was almost hard to stand up. There are a bunch of spots at the top with little rock walls built up that you can sit behind to get out of the wind a little bit.
Apparently the wind is a normal occurence, not just that day. The view was gorgeous and I was so happy we made it to the top.
After sitting for a while I noticed how incredibly cold it was. I had already been cold since we hit the Saddle but after not moving much for a few minutes I was really feeling it. So after a break and snapping a few pictures I was ready to head down.
Especially since there were some big dark clouds looming and I knew there was supposed to be a storm that afternoon. We made our way back and although it was much easier than going up I was surprised by how slow it seemed. I thought it would be way faster to get down to the bottom but it it took about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get back down. I think since it’s so rocky I was being pretty cautious and so it still took a while to hike down. Again I was so happy to have my GPS watch because I would have had no clue how close we were. Sometimes I can recognize parts of trails on the hike back but this one I could not tell at all. It was very reassuring to be able to look and see how much farther we had to go. We finally made it back to the car after about 5 hours and 45 minutes. I was completely exhausted by then and I was tired the rest of the day. It was a tough hike and very tiring but definitely worth it.
Here’s a little more info about the peak. It’s actually the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 ft. It’s part of the San Francisco Peaks mountain range which are actually volanic peaks. My other big mountain hike was in Colorado on Mount Elbert which is the highest peak in Colorado at 14,433 ft. Apparently I just go for the tallest peaks right away… Compared to how I remember that, which was almost 6 years ago and when I was considerably less in shape, this hike was fairly easy. So if you’ve hiked a 14’er this hike if probably not too bad. If you don’t really hike much than this is going to be pretty difficult but it’s very doable. Good shoes, extra layers, lots of water, and snacks are a must! Some people had trekking poles and huge packs but honestly I don’t think it’s really necessary, at least not for this time of year. 6 hour round trip with an average of about a 30 minute mile pace and limited rest breaks. Lots of fun and a beautiful hike