Apache County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: September 8, 2008
Author: Dave Covill

On Monday 9/8/08, we drove to the TH for the northern trail to Apache Baldy. Important note! They are still working on the road. Do NOT approach from the S or SE. The north approach leads you down SR 273 for about 9 miles, to a point where the road is blocked off. This spot is 100 feet S of the gravel cutoff road to Greer. They have created a temp trail through the meadow and along an old road for about a mile, to a point where it joins the old trail. I have used my TOPO! software to calculate a new distance of 8.2 miles to 11,400+', another 0.4 mile R/T to 11,403', and 2,700' of gain total. The trail is in fine shape most of the way to the ridge, whereupon it simply cruises straight up the ridge through the pines via a use trail, and does not cross under the peak to the saddle between the two Baldys. Weird....

Meanwhile, we marched up the ridge, came to a couple of posts and USFS signs, but NEVER saw any negative signage. We walked up the N end of the long 11,400' contour to the summit cairn, and I hand leveled over to the 11,403' point atop the small hill within the rezzzz. I determined via my 5X level that I was about 2-3' higher. I jogged over to the small hill, in fading weather, and sighted back. I could see I was about 2-4' lower, although this way was less precise, since I could view the cairn but could not accurately discern the highest actual rock back at the cairn. I picked up a few scraps of candy wrappers, and returned, making the R/T in 21 minutes.

It began to rain and hail and thunder on my return, and we beat a hasty retreat. We tried to go down the trail shown on the map, but it was cutting far to the SE under the 11,403' summit, and we doubled back and went down the way we had come up, via the long ridge on the N end. Our R/T time was from 6:40AM to 4:30PM, 10 hours, a pretty fast time given the distance. You can walk 2/3 of this hike and only gain maybe 800' of elevation along the bank of the headwaters of the Little Colorado River.

We met a very attractive native White Mtn Apache girl about 17 heading up solo, in bad weather, jeans, no raincoat, etc..... She pressed onward... She said the road on the Rezzz side was closed for some reason, and she was using the FS trail for her first attempt of the peak. Odd....

One important note; the trail passes through severe downed trees at about 10,000' where it makes it's first big switchback to the right back towards the ridge line. We picked our way through it on the way up, but cut down through the woods on the way down, eliminating maybe 0.5 miles of bad trail, and saving >15 minutes easily. There were probably 40-50 trees to cross over in that half mile section, and the woods we cut down through had maybe 5 fallen logs we simply paralleled on the way back to the good part of the trail.

It's also important to note that the trail at 11,100' on the ridge leads you right up the final N ridge, and does not appear to connect you to the trail which contours at that elevation as shown on the map directly under the eastern faces of both peaks. We had a nice stroll in the deep woods right up to the summit area.

I suspect the situation may be resolved by summer 2009, but for now, plan on a long but easy day of it. Also, I see no reason to have to cross over to the lower peak, which I feel is at least 1 and maybe 2-3 or even 4' lower than the northern contour. Ken Russell repeated our feat a day later in 7+ hours.