Mica Mountain and Miller Peak Trip Report

Mica Mountain (8,664 ft) and Miller Peak (9,466 ft)

Dates: October 23-24, 2004

This was part of a larger trip that involved guiding John Mitchler to the summit of "Forbidden Peak". The latter ascent was done on the morning of Friday, October 22, and entailed navigating the top 1,000 feet in a cloud using GPS and map/compass skills. The weather improved for the remainder of my journey.

John and I returned to Arizona for Mica Mountain, the Saguaro National Park highpoint. We camped at the Turkey Creek drainage to the southeast, parking just off the road leading the next morning to the trailhead. Bill Jacobs arrived from Prescott around eleven p.m. after we had fallen asleep.

Scott Casterlin and John Hamann arrived on schedule at 6:15 a.m., about sunrise. All five of us piled into his pickup truck and drove the rough road north to shave-off some distance and elevation gain.

The climb began at 7:05 a.m., and we reached the broad summit after a maze of trails at 11:25 a.m. Every person performed well - a necessity for an all-day hike during the shorter days of fall.

A long summit siesta ensued, wherein we ate our lunch food and took pictures. I provided a Ferro Rocher hazelnut truffle to each person - quite decadent, and best, at least for my sake, with coffee. My round boule of sourdough bread was a "hit" with Scott C.

All but John H. and I walked to Spud Rock for a great view of Tucson far far below. As we waited for the three others to return, John and I talked about various mountains and climbing them.

We departed at 1:07 p.m. and were at the vehicle around 5 p.m. - a shade under ten hours elapsed time. The time would have been nine hours were it not for the extended summit break.

The net elevation gain was 4,000 feet, and the total gain was 4,200 feet by my estimate. The round-trip hiking distance was sixteen miles - a full day.

I transferred all of my belongings to Scott's vehicle and we drove to his Tucson home, stopping for dinner at a casual restaurant that Scott frequents. I enjoyed a lemon/lime margarita, followed by a main dish of mesquite grilled whitefish on a large bed of lettuce and shredded cheese inside an edible tortilla shell.

John Mitchler drove to Andy Martin's home. The following day they both "did" the Casa Grande (former) National Monument highpoint - a trivial hike - followed by a lengthy drive with Andy Martin to Mount Union, the Yavapai County highpoint (500 miles).

The following morning, Scott C., John H. and I departed for Miller Peak around 7-7:30 a.m. Scott and John M. purchased a pair of Subway foot-long sandwiches for their summit lunch. We then drove up Carr Canyon on the northeast side of the Huachucha Range immediately next to Sierra Vista and the Mexican border.

The hiking route starts on TR107 bound for the uppermost slopes of Carr Peak. After a trail junction, our route makes a broad semicircle from west to south. The route then meets a trail accessing Miller Peak well to the east.

John H. and Scott C. encountered some illegal aliens, a few remarks being exchanged. I was ahead of them at the time and was unaware of the encounter.

We started at 9:53 a.m. and attained the summit at 12:30 p.m. give or take a few minutes.

The carpark is at 7,450 feet, some making for a 2,000 foot of net elevation gain. The route drops from 9,000 feet, on the north slope of Carr Peak, to an 8,400 feet saddle along the west ridge of Miller Peak, prior to resuming its upward course. Thus the total elevation gain is 3,200 feet. Together with an estimated eleven miles round-trip hiking distance, and we are looking at a "two-thirds day" hike - one which ended at four in the afternoon.

Miller Peak is my final Arizona ultra summit, i.e. one with at least 5,000 feet of prominence. The other four Arizona ultra summits, being county highpoints, were climbed by me years earlier as part of an Arizona state completion. Miller Peak has 5,006 feet of "clean" prominence.

In Sierra Vista we got snacks, including, for me, a pint of coconut sorbet, into which I mixed a large number of leftover items from the previous hikes - assorted chocolate candies, nuts, and part of a pecan fudge bar purchased at a winery in Bowie, Arizona Thursday afternoon while John M. and I drove from Tucson to Hidalgo County.

I again slept at Scott's home. John M. returned around 8 p.m. with Andy Martin, and we all reviewd the Fifty Finest lists for various western states in the effort to determine how many prominent peaks John Hamann had climbed without realizing it. I am impressed by his climbing accomplishments for the western United States. John H., single, lives in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

John Mitchler and I arose at the awful hour of 3:30 a.m. and, after fresh coffee thanks to Scott C., drove to Tucson Airport for our flights home - John to Denver and myself to San Diego.

From my left window seat I noted our track paralleled Interstate 8 as it progressed from Gila Bend to Yuma and into California. I identified the Mohawk Range which the highway passes over at mile marker 52, along with that most precipitous peak a few miles north of the road. After noting Yuma, Arizona, I spied those sand dunes on the border's California side, followed in perhaps sixty miles by Mexicali and its smaller neighbor, Calexico.