#22  Humphreys Peak, Arizona (12,633 ft.)

My hike up and down Humphreys is a tale of Plan Bs. Plan B because my cousin and I were supposed to hike Utah’s King’s Peak, but an early winter storm scotched our ambitions. Plan B because I had not intended to do the Utah trip at all until until my personal life fell apart one bright Sunday afternoon in June. Plan B because the letter B itself represents the one imperious command with which no argument is possible, at least initially. Sometimes you just have to go on.

In the end, the hike was remarkable only for the clouds that socked in the ridge and the high winds over the summit cone. I didn't suffer from any effects of elevation, at least that I could tell, and the switchbacks made for a fairly civilized walk up by White Mountains standards.

But the wind on the summit was fierce, especially the last 100 feet up! The plunging temperatures also shut off my aging iphone 4s until my warm breath over its lifeless case revived the innards long enough to snap a few summit photos and a shoot a movie of me hunkered down in the famous shelter.

Dolley Shot: Hunkered Down on Humphreys

I was an early bird for once, and I met only one other hiker on the way up: a woman taking a weekly stroll up the mountain to keep in shape for her search-and-rescue duties. I met dozens on my down, however, plenty of them dressed in tight jeans and sneakers and woefully underprepared for the freezer that awaited them up top. I warned them. They never listen.

I’m going to tick Humphreys off my 50 states list, but I’ll add an asterisk for a possible return date so I can attempt to see the rough slit of the Grand Canyon on a clear, or clearer, day. 

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