We’ve spent a few days hanging out at a friends cabin on Haigler Creek just north of Young, Arizona. Arizona actually got hit with a pretty good rainstorm on Saturday so it was nice to have somewhere comfortable to hunker down and enjoy a nice grey day. After a few days of staying cooped up inside, we set out on an adventure to the top of Oxbow Mountain.
The summit of Oxbow (6,448′) is rather brushy and mostly frequented by elk but we did get some views up towards the rim and out to the Hellsgate and Mazatazal Wildernesses.
While we were exploring the Sierra Anchas, one of my goals was to hike Aztec Peak, the range’s highpoint at 7,748′ and home to a fire lookout manned by Ed Abbey during the late 70s. Last Wednesday we hopped on the quad and headed up Workman Creek Road to start our hike.
Just above the Falls Recreation area, the road was closed so we parked the quad and started walking up the road. I hadn’t done a ton of research on just how far it was up to the peak so we decided it was probably a bit far for the “short” morning hike we had planned. Instead, we took our time ambling up the road, admiring the rock formations above us, marveling at the large rock slide obscuring the road above Workman Falls, and enjoying hiking as a family through the pine forest.
After awhile, we reached an open meadow. F started to feel the springtime call of antler hunting and convinced me to wander through the meadow and then taking the ridgeline back to the quad. About halfway up the meadow, I convinced him to hit the peak and then head back. We cut through a large swatch of burned forest, splitting up to do some antler searching along the way calling back and forth to each other “Marco” … “Polo.”
Ascending the last bit of the hillside to Aztec Peak’s broad summit, we started picking out landmark mountains to the south and west. This is my furthest northeastern Arizona peak so it provided exciting glimpses of new mountains along Arizona’s border with New Mexico.
In the middle of this photo is Zimmerman Point which we got a look at on our exploration near Asbestos Point, which is poking up just to the right:
And a view to the southeast, reminding us of just how much more of Arizona we have to explore:
From the summit, the Baker Mountain ridgeline looked like a nice walk and we set out in high spirits, while I was already dreaming of lunch back at the camper.
As we made our way northwest along the ridge, we found it hard to figure out where to drop off to the southwest: the entire mountain appeared to have a 100′ cliff face in the direction we needed to head. Eventually, I got a glimpse out to the west and noticed a familiar mountain: Sprocket and I had clamored up its slopes the day before. And then I realized that we were on a mountain that I had noted primarily for it’s giant, neverending cliff…
It was about here that I sorta had a pouting breakdown: I was sure that we were further north than our quad and hungry hiking is not a good look for me. F made a very reasonable observation: what other choice did I have but to keep going? I amused myself by thinking about how few human pairs and their canine child get to do what we were doing on a Wednesday afternoon.
It seemed that we hiked around endless numbers of drainages to find a place to descend before F noticed one that we could probably pick our way down. Turns out the drainage we picked was just below the the summit of Baker Mountain—after all that we missed it by just a few hundred feet!
Fortunately, the way we picked “went” and as that became clearer, my spirits rose. I had finally transcended the “hungry” place and was starting to feel the glow of a lovely day in the mountains with my boys.
As it turned out, we’d overshot the quad by a mile or so on the road but we all trekked happily back up the road to find it and head back to the camper. We quickly loaded up and headed on into Young where we had a well earned dinner and beer at the Antlers Bar & Cafe.
Hanging out in the woods again after so long in the desert feels amazing: