Humphreys Peak: Nepal Training Hike

It was time to get in some higher elevation training hikes and with Humphreys Peak right up the road, there was no excuse.

On the drive up from Phoenix, we passed a forest fire and were concerned the smoke would be a problem when we got to the trail. From a risk perspective, the last thing we wanted to do was hike with smoke in the air which could cause long-term health issues. Our fears were calmed when we arrived at the trail and the winds has pushed the smoke south away from the mountain. Thankful and eager, we were good to go to hike.

The hike started out pretty calm, with a minimal incline, and surrounded by beautiful volcanic rock formations. After 10-15 minutes, the trail started to steepen and we found ourselves in rockier terrain with more dust in the air. Thankfully I had my buff, which I always bring with me, to put over my nose and mouth. We took many breaks, both for rest and to take in the scenery, and slowly made out way up along the trail. The trail was quite crowded, but the further we went up, the number of hikers began to decrease.

Once we got above 11,000 feet, the trees started to thin and we could see what felt like a million miles across Arizona. At the 11,000 foot marker there was a sign stating that no camping was allowed beyond that point. The air was thinning and we could now feel our breath getting heavier and the slightest of headaches coming on.

After several hours, we made it to the top where the temperature had dropped over 20 degrees F. The ridge, which sits at 11,800 feet, is the remnants of extinct volcano. Standing there, we could see where the volcanic crater once stood and visualize how the last mega explosion happened. There was still a bit more hike up to the peak, but we decided we didn’t wanna go all the way up because we had a dog with us and the trail became pretty rocky and treacherous. We decided the ridge was a good spot to turn around and go back down.

On the way back down we were making really good time. We stopped for a few photos and one little rest, but most of the way down we were just trucking along without needing to take any breaks. We could feel the temperature drastically heating up as we went down and how much easier it was getting to breathe.

As we got pretty close to the bottom, there was this couple sitting on a log, with a cheese and crackers plate, and an open bottle of wine to celebrate. I thought this was hilarious because if you can’t celebrate your accomplishments, what’s the point?! They offered us a glass of wine, but we declined considering we still had to drive all the way back down to Phoenix. All-in-all it was a great hike, was a good eye-opener on my current fitness level, and gave me added confidence for my upcoming Everest base camp trek. 

For anyone interested, here is the trail map with more details about elevation gain, difficulty, and location. Enjoy and happy hiking!

About the author

Erin Bonilla

I am a curriculum developer, technical trainer, communicator, and adventurer with a passion for human space exploration and training. I am actively involved in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) educational outreach efforts and advocate for the deep connection between the arts and science education.

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