Peak 9,269ft P500
Pastora Peak P2K
Newman Hill

Oct 1, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2


Day 3 of a two-week roadtrip to Colorado and New Mexico found me in Arizona, finally reaching Colorado in the afternoon. I was camped in the Lukachukai Mtns of Eastern Arizona, on lands that are part of the vast Navajo Nation. I would have quite a bit of driving today to get to Colorado, with much rough Jeeping and even a bit of actual hiking along the way.

Peak 9,269ft

This was my short sunrise hike, an unnamed summit with 600ft of prominence on the southeast side of Big Lake. My route from the southwest followed an easy ridgeline to approach the summit from the west, taking twenty minutes. No bushwhacking with mostly clear understory, modest brush found just below the summit. I got to the top just as the sun was cresting above Roof Butte, the P2K I had driven to the previous afternoon. There are also views south and southwest, trees blocking those towards the north. I thought I might find an Andy Martin register, knowing he had visited in 2014. Having no luck in locating said object, I ended up leaving one of mine before returning much the same way.

Pastora Peak

This is the northeasternmost P2K in Arizona. I had a few hours of highway driving to get myself to the north side of the peak along US160. Once I turned off on the access road, the real fun begins. This is a long drive, almost 14mi to reach the summit. The first few miles are well-graded, but once you pass the last homestead along the road, it becomes a challenge. As others have commented, it's the crux of the outing and can be scary in the wrong vehicle. There are washouts, deep ruts, boulders on the road, and lots and lots of rock. One has to watch the road carefully almost the whole way, making for a tiring drive. There were at least a dozen other vehicles on the road today, most of them driven by women. Seems 'tis the season to collect pinenuts, a traditional pasttime, for the women, anyway. The men I saw were either sitting in a chair, drinking, looking bored, or in the case of a young family, the husband was watching the two toddlers while mom collected pinenuts. They were picking them up from between the rocks on one side of the road or the other, one by one. Combined with the difficulty of the drive, this is one tough way to spend a Sunday. The ladies were almost all nice, waving back to me, the men just staring at me and ignoring my friendly waves. Even the wild horses I encountered from time to time looked less intimidating than these Navajo men. The last few miles I had to myself, traveling through some lovely oak woodlands before the summit finally comes into view in the last half mile.

It would take me an hour and a half to complete the drive to the base of the mountain on its north side, leaving less than a quarter mile hike to the top. The hike is steep, but not really brushy, taking less than 15min. At the summit cairn there was a very busy, somewhat disorganized register in a set of red nested cans. I didn't have the patience to try and figure out the oldest entry and who might have left it. It's a P2K - it's going to see a lot of traffic. Views are mostly blocked by trees, but if one wanted to walk the perimeter of the flattish summit, views can be had. The hike is easy, the drive is not, and I've not got much to recommend it to anyone.

Newman Hill

More driving, through Four Corners to reach Colorado, and then more driving still. I had thought I might try to do a bigger hike in the afternoon, but the forecast was decidedly against it. I got some rain on my way out of Cortez, but luckily nothing much. A cold storm bringing snow was due this evening, so I didn't want to get stuck camped away from the pavement if we got more than a few inches of the white stuff. I decided to visit Newman Hill above Rico, and old mining town along SR145. The oddly named "Hill" lies across the west side of Dolores Mtn, between Spear Slide and Deadwood Gulch. An unsigned, high-clearance road is found on the east side of the highway, just south of the town center. The rough road sees some traffic, but not a lot, probably kept clear by the locals. It's a lovely road travelling through aspen forests that are in the process of changing to fall colors - very scenic. I found several downed trees that were easy to move, then more serious, mature aspen downfall that stopped me about a quarter mile from the point depicted on LoJ as the summit. I had a lovely hike on the continuing road, then onto a lesser road that hasn't seen traffic in years. I passed by an old mine (mostly just a big hole with tailings) with a concrete foundation to a building that has long vanished. I noted several mountain bike trails that have been constructed on the hillside. One of these led just past the summit, leaving an easy cross-country through ferns to reach what passes as the top. No doubt, this was probably named for one of Laura's descendents who poured his life's blood into prospecting and mining in the area. To have been able to reach the summit before Laura brought me no small measure of joy. On the way down, I followed the mtn bike trail back to the road, easier than my ascent route.

After returning to the Jeep, I drove most of the way back down to Rico, stopping a few hundred yards short of the pavement where I found a nice spot to spend the night. If it snows tonight, I should have little trouble reaching the pavement in the morning...


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