Friday, June 1, 2012

Mount Humpherey Arizona and Flagstaff Camping

Box Canyon in NM (outside of Los Alamos)

Horny Toad

Tree Hugger

Jemez Creek Fun

On Thursday we drove over to Arizona Snowbowl, just 7 miles outside of Flagstaff.  At the base of the ski area is the trailhead to Mount Humphery, Arizona’s highest peak at over 12,637ft.  The trail is about 5 miles to the peak and starts at an elevation of 9,000ft.  Recently I have been running on the trails around Shultz Pass where we have been camped maybe 5 miles outside town.  The trails are at 7,500-8,500 feet and roll and climb through beautiful Pondersoa pine forests with scrub oak.  At higher elevations the forest turns to spruce, pondersoa and aspens.  I haven’t been doing huge climbs, but have been doing decent climbing on the trails everyday. 

The legs felt decent at the start of the climb up Humpherey.  The trail starts wit a lot of back and forth climbing  through thick Pine and Aspen forest with a lot of technical rocky running.  At around 2 miles the impossible happens… there is snow on the side of the trail.  While Flagstaff has amazing Ponderosa forests, trails, cool weather (for AZ!), mountains close to town, there is a serious lack of water in the form of creeks, streams, alpine lakes and certainly no rivers.  
Dense Forest and Technical Trail Running

I am blown away by how the forest has such amazingly huge trees with zero creeks.  Anyways, the snow is nice to see.  3.5K of climbing in just under 5 miles is significant, but for the most part the trail climbs in such a way that most of the trip up is very runable.  High alpine peaks are a rare thing in AZ, so Humpherey sees a lot of tourists and people who are less than experienced in the mountains and have a tendency to share their shock and awe of being at high altitudes with me, furthermore giving desperate warnings of how “extreme” things are just ahead.  People are just excited and impressed by the mountains and so am I, just thought I’d share.  
The Start

At around 11,300, the trails affords some views of the ski area, which has some pretty decent steep terrain considering how close to town it is.  
The ridge to Humphrey

Also in view is Humpherey’s neighbor Agassiz Pk at 12,300 feet.  
Agassiz Peak, 12,300feet (and AZ Snowbowl)

After a few hundred feet more climbing, the trail hits a saddle where you can take a left and climb Agassiz or take a right to continue up to Humpherey.  It is at this juncture where there is about an eighth of a mile of real steep climbing that I power hiked.  The wind kicked up just above this climb at treeline.  The last mile is obviously rocky, but on the ridge and runnable.  The heart pumps while at a slow jog at 12K feet, the views are awesome atop this relatively lone peak in northern Arizona.  I arrived at the summit, enjoy the view and head down. 
Summit with my Ryders

  Just below the summit, I get a “wow, amazing… you know Badwater is that way”, I responded with a “too hot for me”.  It took me 69 minutes to reach the summit.  I had more fun on this run than I have in a long time.  The descent was great and I felt fast and strong. 
The Ridge to the Summit

The following day Maggie, Felix and I hiked up Humpherey.  The wind was unbelievably strong especially above tree line.  We had a very hard time just standing up.  Felix was not too happy with the wind either and after some serious yelling and crying… then fell asleep.  The following day after our hike a 53 year old runner died just below the peak.  Here is the article.   
The Family on Mt. Humphrey

We had a great week in Flagstaff.  We rode our bikes with Felix in the Chariot down to town and explored the area.  I played a round of Frisbee golf on the nice 18 hole course in Thorpe Park.  We went to the Aqua Plex one day where we played on the water slides, fountains, lazy river and of course enjoyed a nice shower.  I enjoyed and furthermore, we, as a family, really like Flagstaff.    “Flag” has great trails, a smaller, fun community, great mountain biking, it is close to Phoenix (flying), the Grand Canyon, has a decent University (NAU) with a good Physical Therapy program, something I am considering when we return next year from New Zealand.

The family is doing well.  We are, at the time I’m writing this, over two weeks into our trip.  We are keeping are costs very low only spending money really on gas and food.  We have used our outdoor shower, we cook everyday on our 3 burner stove, we use the furnace when it is cold, things are going well with camper living .  We have managed to find forest service roads where we can camp and hang out free, hit the trails and bik


  1. Awesome! Glad y'all are having fun! Maybe I'll catch you around Telluride in July. Steven, ATX.

  2. We would love to met up in Telluride Steven! When might you be there?

  3. When are leaving for Utah? Looks like a great trip so far. We are thinking about heading to SW CO in July. Looks like some amazing running.

  4. Did you take the chair up there?. It is a long way up there.
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