Jun 03, 2012 | Written by Patricia Murphy

1 Week to Go: Humphrey’s Summit

At this time next week we will be arriving in Amsterdam, and then 2 days after that we’ll be arriving in Arusha, Tanzania. Our fearless guide Kapanya Kitaba has sent us several emails asking us when we are going to stop exercising. He says we need to conserve our energy for the hike. But we have had this Humphrey’s summit planned for some time as a celebration of John’s 45th birthday, so John, Cindy, Larry and I all went up and climbed the highest peak in Arizona. Sorry Kapanya! From now on you are the boss.

Cindy and Larry rented a house out on Hidden Hollow Road, in between downtown Flagstaff and the trailhead, and we all had a lovely evening there Friday night. At around 7:15 Saturday our dogsitter Jean-Paul came to the door. He’s the boyfriend of a former student of mine who is now attending graduate school at Northern Arizona. This brave man stayed with our 5 dogs for almost 8 hours while we drove to the mountain, hiked up & down, then drove home. Jean-Paul gets the true award for stamina today.

The Humphrey’s hike starts at 9,221 and covers just over 10 miles with 5573 elevation gain and 5576 loss. The Humphrey’s summit is 12,633, which is only about 7000 feet lower then the Kilimanjaro summit. But since John and I came from Phoenix, which is about 1300 feet, our total elevation change in less than 12 hours was over 13,000 feet. I’m glad we won’t have to do that again! We’ll have a lot more time to acclimatize while we’re in Africa.

Larry and John synchronizing watches.

The hike to the saddle was a steep but beautifully wooded walk in the woods. Once we hit the saddle we had some lunch. What a beautiful spot for a picnic.

At the saddle at 11,800 feet.

As soon as we started the 1 mile ascent to the summit, though, we were greeted with brutal winds. The trail was also very crowded, which made for lots of stopping to let people navigate up and down the trail.

Cindy taking a breather on the ascent.

After a few false summits, we made it to the top. It was pretty crowded up there but we managed to get some shots of the great views.

Trish & John and a stunning view.

Larry and Cindy and the beautiful view.

So now all that’s left to do is descend! The descent was even windier and more crowded.


After about 7 hours on the mountain we were back to the trailhead. What a wonderful hike with great friends. Hard to believe we’ll start our Kilimanjaro trek in less than 2 weeks.

Hiking fools.