Looking for an excuse to climb in Arizona, Dinah and I found it in Mount Wilson, a mountain just minutes from the Nevada-Arizona border. For this trip, we met with Shin. Shin had Wilson on his “bucket list,” but he didn't have a high-clearance vehicle required to get to the trailhead. Following Branch Whitney's instructions for Wilson, we drove our rented SUV up Black Joe Mine Road and after much jolting and bouncing arrived at the trailhead. After determining the correct ridge to start up, the way to the summit was obvious and we soon dispensed with the route description. We stuck to the ridgeline and steadily drew closer to the summit.
The hike was more beautiful than we expected. Each section of ridge held its own delights whether they were unusual rock colours or tall yuccas. We also saw an assortment of lizards and one snake, but except for the sluggish horned lizards, all wildlife quickly disappeared into rocks or bushes. Along with the eye-catching desert scenery, twists, turns and ridge undulations kept us engaged the entire time.
Two hours and 45 minutes after starting out we reached the summit. As we relaxed, a pair of swallows soared and swooped about the peak. They were so swift and flew so close to us – as close as two or three feet – we could hear the “swoosh” of air.
We spent a delightful 45 minutes on top before heading back. The return trip was uneventful until we reached the last section of ridge above the trailhead. There two swallows suddenly appeared and sped towards us. They zipped so close to our heads that we flinched. And then they were gone. It was as if the birds were giving us a farewell flyby as we left the mountain.
The trailhead: we'll ascend the ridge on the left.
Starting up the ridge
Within minutes of starting, we were scrambling.
We investigate a mined area.
Following the ridge crest
Shin waits for us on the ridge. The summit rises above him on the left.
Hiking through enjoyable desert landscape
The summit (left) remains far off.
Lake Mead and Fortification Hill in the background
On a striking ridge section (mouse over to look back)
Another area I enjoyed
Desert mariposa tulip so brilliant I spotted it a hundred metres away (mouse over for a top view).
Continuing along the ridge
Studying the summit
Arch Mountain in the foreground on the right
Steep, rocky slopes below the summit
I scrambled up a chimney but Shin and Dinah easily hiked around it.
The summit is just past this rise.
Shin climbs a chute to reach the summit.
Relaxing on the summit
Heading back down
Passing a gendarme
We leave the summit behind.
While other lizards quickly disappeared, horned lizards were slow enough for us to photograph.
We saw four horned lizards in all including this baby (mouse over for a close-up).
More great desert scenery
Mount Wilson 1:24,000 Topo (4.5 mi, 5,433 ft, 2,457 ft)
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