Navajo County Highpoint Trip Report

Black Mesa (8,168 ft)

Date: April 12, 2006
Author: Dave Covill (with Gerry and Jennifer Roach, Charlie Winger, George Vandersluis, Rick Hartman)

This CoHP has been documented rather nicely, but only briefly mentioned coming from the north side. Leave the stop light in Kayenta at the 160/163/591 intersection, zero the odometer, and drive south on the Tribal Road for 0.2 mile on good dirt roads. Don't worry about the locals, they shouldn't care too much about you. There was a huge county fair going on right there on the day we climbed. Turn right at 0.2 mile just past the last houses and proceed southwest on dirt, leaving the wider road behind as it goes due south and, at 1.2 miles, cross a cattle guard and continue straight ahead. Turn right again at 1.8 miles, leaving the power lines behind, and proceed southwest on fair dirt. Here the road will curve south and then west. The crux move on this approach is to go left at 2.0 miles, uphill. Proceed to the 2 water tanks you can see from a mile back and reach them at mile 2.9. You will be just east of spot elevation point 6,262. Do not continue to the end of the road by the house but park next to the tanks. By the way, none of the roads on the topo appear to match modern roads on the reservation at all.

Walk downhill south-southeast and cross a wash and make your way on a faint trail up onto the first plateau. A poor trail meanders into the gully, passes east of the 6,601-foot point, and heads towards the 6,823-foot point. Pass over this plateau area, then approach the steep wall of the cliffs at about the 7,000-foot level, again on a faint use trail. No cairns. You will be directly under the actual summit of Black Mesa. You need to angle to the right and make for the lower weakness in the mesa edge, near the 8,000-foot annotation on the topo map. To do so, you must climb slightly but stay under the most prominent cliff band of rock for about 1/4 mile, while angling to the right (west). Soon, arrive at the edge of a modest gully. Stay up on the left edge of this gully, and don't descend into it. This gully edge will lead you all the way up to the summit plateau. It is steep but reasonable, with some trees for shade. It was about 70 degrees the whole day for us. Once on the mesa top, follow it as in other reports for a 1/2 mile or so to the east to the high ground. We found the cairn after some searching and thought other areas on the rim were close to the same height but a bit of wandering should satisfy all visitors. Great views to the northeast from a lunch spot about 200 feet north of the cairn. It took us 3:20 up and 2:10 down.

No one seemed to care about our presence. Somebody signed in and said they had driven to within a 20 minute walk of the summit, although I have no idea what they were talking about. The usual cast of suspects had signed in and we were honored to join them. A very nice CoHP, earned by a tough hike.