Bear Mountain South P300
Black Mountain P1K
Anderson Butte

Wed, Oct 19, 2022

With: Eric Smith

Etymology
Bear Mountain South
Black Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX Profile

Continued...

It was our last day in the Sedona area and over the course of the past few weeks I had managed to tag all of the twenty summits in the area found in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles save one, Bear Mountain. This morning we would make an attempt on this, but give up before reaching its summit. It would leave a bad taste in my mouth that would be short-lived - not all summits deserve to be climbed, I concluded.

Bear Mountain South

The Bear Mtn Trail starts off paved Boyton Pass Rd, the same location as the popular Doe Mtn TH. The trail climbs 2,000ft over the course of something under 2.5mi. The trail is decently maintained and includes a lot of rock steps to work through several cliff areas. In places it simply follows across slabs. Painted white arrows are so plentiful as to be annoying. There are several PB-only points enroute, neither with much prominence or other noteworthiness. The trail ends at a third PB-only point called "Bear Mountain - False Peak" that has little prominence. It took us almost 2hrs to reach this point at a pretty relaxed pace. There is still more than a mile to reach the highpoint further north, but things begin to devolve once the trail has run its course. At first, it appears there might be a use trail continuing past the large cairn that marks the end of the trail. We spent about 40min covering the short distance to the next prominent point called Bear Mtn South on LoJ, Bear Mtn - Middle Peak on PB. The hoped-for trail never materialized and much moderate bushwhacking ensued, not much fun. We found no obvious summit at this intermediate highpoint and after looking around for a register, ended up leaving one we carried with us. We waffled for 5-10min about continuing to Bear Mtn, still about 0.8mi away as the crow flies. Nothing about the route ahead of us looked easy, far as we could tell. I think Eric was ready to let me do this one on my own while he started back, which certainly would have made it faster, but it was not enticement enough to suffer what Purcell describes as "an agonizing bushwhack." My pants were already partially shredded from the last several weeks and I wasn't sure they could endure much more. In the end, I didn't want to leave Sedona with this last uninspiring experience, so I suggested we turn back and forget it. It would be difficult to forget it of course, but I would get over it soon enough - there were far more interesting peaks to spend effort on. We headed back to the trail and then to the TH, taking about 3 3/4 hours for the roundtrip effort. Where we had seen nobody when we'd started out before 7a, on the way back we saw 7-8 parties, suggesting it was a more popular trail than we had guessed it to be.

Black Mountain

This flat-topped P1K is located about 9mi west of Bear Mtn. A rough Jeep road climbs nearly to the summit from the southeast. TRs on PB describe parking much lower due to the road condition and hiking something in the area of 6mi roundtrip. While we were determined to drive higher with the Jeep, I would be satisfied to stop when the Jeep was no longer moving faster than we could walk. We plied dusty backroads from Boyton Pass across a mix of NF and private lands, most of these in good condition. We left Eric's Rav4 at the junction with Black Mtn Rd near Wheatfield Tank No 1, then drove north on Black Mtn Rd in the Jeep. The road sees little traffic and has been modified in several places to get around washouts, but not really maintained. The spur road (FR761C) forking off that climbs the SE Slope in long switchbacks and is very rocky and quite slow. Eric got out several times to move large rocks that had rolled onto the roadbed. We drove to an elevation of around 5,800ft, little more than a mile east of the summit before I decided I was tired of the rough driving. I probably would have stopped earlier if not for Eric's subtle but effective encouragement over the last several miles. The hike took us about 30min over a combination of continuing road travel and then cross-country through pinyon/juniper forest with rocky ground. Past a small antenna near the top, we wandered about and eventually found a cairn with a John Vitz register dating to 2006. It was really just a few scraps of paper in an unprotected casing, so we stuffed those into a new register we left atop. Views are lacking and there isn't much to encourage others to do this hike, so the P1K status will have to suffice.

Anderson Butte

After returning back down to where we'd left Eric's car, I noticed named Anderson Butte, a minor summit less than 2mi to the southeast. MacLeod and Lilley had paid it a visit in 2009. I tried to use this to entice Eric to join me, but he was content to stop for the day. He would shower and relax while I was off doing this last summit. I found Jeep roads that got me within a quarter mile of the summit on its southwest side. I made haste up to the summit through forested slopes, happy to find open views at the top. I looked around several places for a register, finding a surprisingly busy one that was only recently placed by a local to the area. There was a broken glass jar among the summit rocks that might have been placed by MacLeod/Lilley, but the contents were nowhere to be found. Sadness. Nice views to Black Mtn to the northwest and east to Sedona, however.

Back down, I returned to find Eric fresh and relaxed. We planned to drive on to Cottonwood and Jerome on our way up to the Prescott NF where we planned to hike the next day. Purcell had mentioned in his guidebook that Jerome possessed "a strange charm and a few good restaurants" so we ended up having a very good meal in that old mining town in the hills above Cottonwood. The restaurant/hotel (8 rooms upstairs) was Clinkscalel - good food, service and atmosphere - the best meal we had on this trip. Afterwards we drove up to the Woodchute TH where I showered (brrr) and then to a nearby dispersed campsite where we had a nice campfire, something prohibited in Sedona area...

Continued...


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