A TALE OF TWO SEASONS - MT. UNION & HARQUAHALA MOUNTAIN
Snowy summit of Mt. Union
Where we parked on Mt. Union
This was along the curvy, steep dirt road en route to Mt. Union. Someone has a good sense of humor.
Joel on summit of Mt. Union
Looking down at Anji from the lookout tower
A winter wonderland
Bart posing with a Saguaro on the trail to Harquahala Mountain
Climbing higher through the Saguaros
The Harquahala Mountain trail was well-maintained and very scenic.
A small tarantula near our camp
Sections of the trail weave through dense Saguaro forests.
Despite the dreary weather report we stubbornly left Las Vegas in the pre-dawn hours and made the two hour drive down to the Kingman area. It sprinkled a bit on us on the drive, but as we approached Kingman and it got light, we could see significant snow in the mountains. As we drove the curvy road to the trailhead for Hualapai, there were several signs posted saying winter storm warning... but we kept driving.
A couple of miles from the trailhead the road started getting snow-covered and slick. As we climbed a steep hill on the road, my tires lost traction a bit. We got up to where a side road leads about mile up to where the trail starts, only to find that it was not plowed and covered in a foot of snow!
We had pretty good cold weather gear, but decided tromping up a snowy trail to a class 3 summit block in a snowstorm would not be a great idea. So, I carefully turned the car around and slowly went back down the progressively more snow-covered road. We knew we had made the right decision, but were a bit disappointed nevertheless.
We discussed possibly changing the planned order of peaks, but decided on going with the original plan heading down to the Prescott area to do Mt. Union, which was to be a short hike anyway. The hike turned out to be a bit longer than expected because again the road got too snowy to continue.
Anji was a bit disheartened at first by the winter weather conditions, but once we got moving, it wasn't bad at all. It actually made a usually trivial hike into quite a fun adventure. We reached the summit and Bart and I climbed partway up the lookout tower. It snowed on us almost the entire hike.
Anji expressing her feelings about the cold
From there it was more driving to Harquahala Mtn. We were planning to carcamp at the trailhead and had visions of it being a soggy mess. As we drove southwest, it snowed on us, and then as we got lower, it turned to steady rain. We were all imagining a flooded campsite, but about 20 miles from our destination, the rain completely stopped. When we arrived at our intended campsite, not only was it not raining, but the ground was dry. As well as being dry, it was a great camping spot, complete with an outhouse, and surrounded by Saguaro cacti and beautiful flowering ocotillo.
Our camp at Harquahala trailhead
We made camp, enjoyed food, drink, the scenery and the company. We even taught Anji how to play Hearts (the card game), which she vowed would be the first and last time she would play! We took in a magnificent sunset, then turned in early.
A lovely Arizona sunset
We broke camp and were on the trail by 7:00 Sunday morning. In sharp contrast to the previous day, it was a beautiful, warm, cloudless day. We were all fresh and made good time up the well-maintained trail, stopping to take a few photos of the spectacular scenery and plentiful Saguaros. The summit was very nice despite the proliferation of equipment. There were several buildings, various weather equipment, solar panels, and even a nice BBQ pit.
Signing the summit log
We jetted down and got home by late afternoon, only making a brief lunch stop at a Subway in Parker, AZ. It was an amazing two-day trip: one day winter, one day summer! Thanks to Bart and Anji for joining me for this memorable trip.
Gas station in Seligman, AZ
Joel on Harquahala Mountain
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