Every year we managed to do at least one trip up to the highest point in Arizona, Mount Humphreys. There are three common routes to the summit. The shortest and most popular starts at the Snow Bowl ski resort and climbs for 5.12 miles to the summit. One of the less traveled routes starts at the Weatherford Trail and leads to the summit. This route has a more gradual approach to the peak but is 10.5 miles one way. The third option involve starting in the scenic Inner Basin and making a push for the summit. This option has an aggressive climb but shorts the trip to 15.6 miles roundtrip. All these trails link up to another at some point because there is only one route to the peak.
But these have all been done, multiple times, so we were looking for a new challenge. I came across the Bear Jaw/Abineau Loop and discovered that you could link this trail will other trails and make a push for the summit. Starting from the Bear Jaw Trail, you would make your way to the Waterline Trail. This trial would connect with the Inner Basin Trail and take you to the summit. The appealing aspect of this route, besides a change; was the 24 mile round trip route and the 5,200ft of elevation gain. Absolute type two fun.
Retracing our steps we made our way towards the car, but not without a hiccup. Even though we began the hike with 4-5 liters of water each, the heat had drained our reserves a few miles from the trailhead. Luckily we were all fit enough to tolerate some minor discomfort and were relieved that we had cool water waiting at the car.
As you hopefully have figured out by now, this route is not for beginners. There is no water along the route; it contains high altitudes; difficult climbs and high mileage. In 10.5 hours we managed to cover approximately 23.5 miles and 5200 ft of elevation gain. The entire day our small group was pushing the pace to ensure we were not benighted. If your interested in attempting this route, you can find all the trail information at hikearizona.com and can put together a map there also.
Checkout the complete photoset here.