Monday, January 2, 2012

Vulture Peak Hike & Climb

Vulture Peak as viewed from the parking lot.
The 940 foot ascent to the saddle gets steeper.
So last Thursday, we planned to drive 43 miles outside of Phoenix to Wickenberg to the Vulture Peak Trail.  Vulture Peak is actually 7 miles South of Wickenberg, wonderfully remote.  We never would have known about it if not for Mahtab's "60 hikes within 60 miles of Phoenix" book.  Nathan Jr and I were to meet Mahtab at 10am at the tail head's gravel parking lot.  There were 4 other cars, and we saw 9 other people the whole hike, over the next 4 hours. 

Vulture Peak starts off deceivingly slow and gradual, as the trail meanders through washes and very gradual inclines with no shortage of weaponized "teddy bear" cholla fields..  After a mile and a 1/2, the trail reaches the foot hills and climbs steeply to the saddle crest between the peaks.  Upon reaching the saddle, the "maintained trail" ends, and you get to blaze your own path up narrow crevices and sheer rock faces to reach the summit. 
Chartreuse lichens thrived at the summit

Nathan Jr scampered up to the summit well ahead of Mahtab & I. We consumed the apricots, almonds, and more than 1/2 our water.  The trekking poles were a serious encumbrance when scrambling over massive rocks.  Nathan Jr secured my old walking staff "Donatello Style" into the back of his camelback. 

At the peak there were USGS markers, and an old ammo box with pens and notebooks.  We each wrote our names and dates in the books and put them back in the ammo container.
Nathan Jr said "this is what I wanted to do the whole trip!".  Mahtab said it was the most fun hike & climb she'd ever been on.  I thought it was great.  Highly recommended for anyone looking for a challenging trail that is sparsely populated, and that provides beautiful 360 degree views at the summit.

At the summit, looking NE (the White Tank Mountains are out of frame to the right).
Nathan Jr scrambled up the the secondary peak, and snapped this photo of me, 240 feet below.  The primary peak, that we had just climbed, is behind me.

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