Pinal County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: November 2, 2004
Author: Gordon J. MacLeod

At long last, we succeeded in bagging the high point of Pinal County from the east over Rice Peak in the traditional fashion. We drove about a mile up the Peppersauce Canyon Road and walked the rest of the way up to the summit ridge and followed the Arizona trail/road to Rice Peak. We found a register placed by Richard Carey and Gail Hanna in October 2003 (to replace one burnt during the 2002 fire). Only one party had subsequently registered before our visit.

We found only one cairn and it was located at an elevation with which both Gordon's SUNNTO and BRUNTON SHERPA altimeters (whose least count were 10 and 3 feet, respectively) concurred. Both altimeters were calibrated to read the same value on Rice Peak and then we looked for a drop of about 270 or 280 feet between Rice Peak and the Pinal County boundary line -- to agree with 275 foot drop as indicated on the Campo Bonito 7.5' topo between the peak's elevation and the boundary line's interpolated value.

We looked around anyway for additional cairn(s) and, in the process, noted a steep road (which perhaps should be characterized as a "cat track") leading in the direction of Arizona trail/road we had used in the ascent of Rice Peak. We elected to take our chances and avoid the 300 foot gain back to Rice Peak. We followed the "cat track" down to a point where it appeared to have an eastward bias, so we left it and contoured cross-county downward and northwestward to rejoin the Arizona trail/road after about half a mile and a drop of 200 to 300 feet. This shortcut worked really well but it was facilitated by both the brush suppression the fire had afforded and by the recent rains, which provided for excellent footing.