|Humphrey's Peak: 12,633'|
One week prior to our attempt I saw a post from Ray. His bike leaning against a tree with a large backpack & baseball hat attached to it. Almost instantly I knew what he was up to!! Ray and I come from the same mold when concocting routes, it's no surprise we came up with the same idea!! He knocked it out that day and gave me a good sense of timing required for the hike.
I threw a few short rides together for our drive north. First up: Sedona and a Hiline loop since Kelly had never been on that trail, such a crime!! We rolled into town around 11a and it was already 94º, so much for a cooler ride.
I had recently picked up a Dakine chest mount bag for my DSLR camera and was curious to see how it rode. It sticks out quite a bit while walking, but isn't noticeable at all when pedaling. I kind of feel like a kangaroo with it on, so many pouches.
We finally hit the trail from the Bike-n-Bean parking lot. Neither one of us had been on Made in the Shade, so why not? Well, it's pretty tough sledding, especially in the warm weather. We were sweating early on and seemed to be constantly off the bikes. I crested the high point of the trail and rolled around a drainage to a short steep drop. A minute went by, no Kelly. Another couple of minutes of silence followed. I thought she may have had enough of the trail and turned around! I called out and she replied from the other side of the drainage that a cleat bolt had fallen out of her shoe making it more difficult to ride. We were barely a mile into our ride, so we finished off Made in the Shade and headed back to Bike-n-Bean for a quick fix. (I normally have a few extra bolts, but took them out of my pack since I've been riding on flats lately)
|Here's proof that we actually rode in Sedona!!|
As soon as we walked in the door and explained what was going on, they told us there was nothing they could do as it was a warranty issue. Apparently the SRAM Guide brakes have been known to stick in hot conditions over time. As we began to wonder if we would be able to ride the next day, the guys offered a temporary solution: spray down the brakes with cool water & see if the piston retracts. There was a bike wash station out back and it did the trick!!
By now it was apparent there would be no Hiline ride today, oh well. We made up for it by grabbing some ice cream before pointing the car north once more.
|Ice cream & goofiness cures all.|
The Kelly Pocket trail is an isolated piece of singletrack tucked in a forested ravine. It has great flow and for the most part is downhill with some obstacles to play on: logrolls, ladders, etc. I had the good camera with me, so we stopped for some photo ops along the way.
|Focused and ready for takeoff!|
|The Voodoo is always the center of attention, who needs a head anyway?|
|Notice the crumbling left side on the landing log?|
|Over...oh, wait, remember that crumbling section?|
|Rut-roh!! Down goes Kelly!!|
|Forest full of ferns & hero dirt.|
|We didn't have much luck with this one.|
|Blasting off towards another climbing challenge!!|
|Way steeper than it looks and loose!|
|We took a few cracks at it, ending in a draw.|
We were up shortly after 5a and made our way over to Safeway near Buffalo Park. From there it took a bit longer to get moving, but we were rolling out to the trails at 6:40a. We agreed on making a decision to ride Rocky Ridge when we arrived at the Elden Lookout rd. I would've been content to ride the road over to Shultz Creek, but Kelly was game for the Ridge, so off we went. I tend to forget how good this trail is, so much fun and just the right amount of tech.
We started the long slow grind up the mountain on Shultz Creek. I was a bit surprised to see so many riders out that early, both climbing and already heading downhill. Everyone seemed to be taking advantage of the hero dirt conditions! A few miles up the trail Kelly began to whine about...err, talk about, how uncomfortable her new seat was. That's one aspect of your gear you never want issues with, saddle sores suck. We kept grinding along, then I heard a very distinct chain noise behind me. Her chain dropped into the rear wheel and luckily she stopped quickly. What the hell is up with that bike, I thought. I could easily tell how frustrated she was at the situation, but we managed to get things right in a timely manner. Up at the Sunset trailhead we made some minor adjustments to her seat hoping that would help ease the discomfort as we still had 11 miles or so of mostly seated climbing to do.
|Happy bikes make for...|
|Happy adventurers!! Photo by Kelly. (my selfie skillz suck)|
|That's some wheelie determination!!|
|This makes me look like a good wheelie rider. I am not.|
Our leftover pizza and fresh spring water lifted our spirits as a bunch of other riders came by. There was a good sized group doing an Around the Mountain ride for the first time. We fed them some stoke before making our final push up the upper Inner Basin trail to the Wilderness boundary.
|No need to filter here. Photo by Kelly.|
|End of the line for the bikes.|
|Inner Basin trail was more loose, steeper & longer than we had hoped.|
|By the time we saw this rock the initial hiking excitement had wore off.|
|Finally reaching the Weatherford trail junction. Oof.|
|Cool section of trail cutting between the pines.|
|It's almost a flat trail!|
|DSLR selfies are fun!!|
|Somewhere around here my GPS had a hiccup and stole 700' of elevation. My unit was only reading 10,700+ ft. here.|
|We were ready to experience the promised better views from this side of the mountain. Here, looking down into the Inner Basin.|
|The summit is still a long way off, but all is well.|
|ok, maybe a little winded.|
|Starting to leave the trees behind.|
|There's Flagstaff way down there, back where we started.|
|Splashes of purple were everywhere.|
|I'd love to ride this section!!|
|Looking back towards Fremont Peak. (11,969')|
|Doyle Peak. (11,460')|
|Near the 12,000' line.|
|Agassiz Peak sits at 12,358'|
|I'm not a fan of losing hard earned elevation just to go back up!|
|Yeah, we're on the trail.|
|Dropping down the saddle where the Humphrey's Peak trail joins from the ski resort. All of a sudden the route became a bit more crowded.|
|Only the final pitch remains.|
|Hands were required on occasion.|
|Top of Snowbowl Ski Area.|
|The first of a few false summits.|
|Amazing view to the south.|
|High above the Inner Basin.|
|Large posts marked the way.|
|There it is!! We can see the summit sign.|
|Woohoo!! A fitting way to celebrate!|
|This was Kelly's 7th time to the top and admitted it was the toughest yet. Glad I could help!!|
|Finally, after all these years I stood on AZ's highest peak.|
|That's the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the far right horizon.|
|What an amazing view. The bug situation wasn't horrible, but you didn't want to hang out too long. Temperature was pleasant, no jacket needed and the wind was light.|
|Happy to be here or happier that we're going downhill?|
|Here's an awkward DSLR selfie.|
|Looks like our weather window is closing, keep moving.|
|Somewhere around here, Kelly declared her legs 'dead'.|
We rounded up the bikes and had more pizza, only 37 miles of mostly downhill terrain remained...at least that's what I hoped we'd be doing.
I don't think we were riding more than 5 minutes down the Inner basin trail when....psshhhhtt. Kelly's front tire punctured, spraying sealant everywhere. If it were me, I might have just walked down the mountain at this point. She's been getting a crash-course in trailside maintenance lately.
We tried to get the hole to seal, nada. Tried some tire bacon (apparently, if you keep that stuff in heat, it melts a bit to the wrapper and makes things difficult to use), nothing. Then it started to rain again. Great. We opted for a tube, but trying to get the bead off her rim was quite the challenge. It took both of us a few minutes to finally break it free. I think we messed with the wheel for a solid 30 minutes before we started rolling again. I urged her to keep things slow at least until the spring. That trail has too many protruding rocks over loose terrain to rip through it running a tube. I don't think she knows how to ride slow when speed is calling, but she must've let off the gas a bit since I was able to keep up.
Down at the spring I made my case for the remaining portion of the route. She listened, but didn't commit to anything, except Aspen Alley photos.
|What an incredible area.|
|Ride up to ride down. Photo by Kelly.|
Down at the Sunset trailhead I sent K at text on Kelly's phone (mine was dead) letting her know we were going to be late. It was time for some AZT action and I knew Kelly would tear this section up. I did warn her about a crappy climb a few miles down the trail that I often walk because I'm tired.
Well, we dropped in and I did my best to keep her in my sights. There were some sketchy moments for sure, but I was hanging on...barely. We hammered all the way through the descent and started the climb. I got dropped, quick. I walked a bit, then rode, then walked while Kelly waited for me at the top of the hill. I caught up and found her wearing the biggest grin you can imagine. 'That is my new favorite trail in Flagstaff!' Hard to argue when given conditions like we had. What about those dead legs, I asked. Adrenaline cures all. Once again: Sandbagger!!
|I swear the trail is sandy here. Photo by Kelly.|
|It's gotta be the socks.|
|Fiery sunset over Mt. Elden.|
|Waning light and our last pic of the ride-hike-ride.|
We opted for some high calorie McD's just before closing. Freshened up and decided to camp out again, just too whooped to make the drive home that night. I wasn't going to get home until after 2a if we left. So, back over to Shultz Pass.
This may become an annual thing. Other than getting a little sleepy near the end, I felt pretty good. The hike was a bit tougher than I had thought, but wasn't horrible by any stretch.
I can't say enough how amazed I am at watching Kelly's day unfold and her unwillingness to give in. Rule #5 applied today. Really, just about every ride we've been on she's had to battle through some bullshit. We've only been riding together for about 1 1/2 months, if I'm recalling correctly she's had a laundry list of trail woes to deal with:
- Doubled her longest single day ride mileage
- Almost ran out of water
- Stolen bike
- Lost cleat bolt
- Bent seat
- Bad seat
- Dropped chain
- Seized brakes
- Sliced tire