Mesquite Mountains (Arizona), North Comobabi Mountains (Arizona)


By: Mark Adrian


P>While there are many fine peaks in Arizona, some on the DPS list, Arizona has yet another well-defined set of desert destinations for the offering. Originally printed in John Annerino's Adventuring in Arizona, pages 346-358, these are the highpoints of the 193 named mountain ranges either completely or partially contained within the state of Arizona. Actually, this list, "created" by Doug Kasian of Tucson, AZ, has had a couple of changes within the last year or so and has been updated to reflect the USGS's 7.5' maps. Furthermore, since some of the ranges span across state and international borders, there are 204 distinct destinations in order to contain both the geo,oraphical/geolo,oical and State high-points . For some, this seems daunting, but for Dave Jurasevich, this was the weekend of his AZHP (Arizona Range Highpoints) list finish. Having shadowed Dave around this list, this is no minor effort. I could go on and on about the rigors involved, but suffice to say there is a lot of challenge and sacrifice pursuing this goal. Of course, too, is the beauty and scenery that's like no other.

A diverse group of peaks, the list boasts a 5.6 70' pitch summit block on the Eagletail Mountains' North Feather, to any of several enduring marathon hikes in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Doug Kasian, list creator, is the first one to have completed it back in the late 1980s. We were fortunate to enjoy Doug's company on Mt. Devine, Dave's list finisher peak near Sells, AZ. Also in our group were of course, Dave Jurasevich, Richard Carey, Shelley Rogers, Philip (our Tohono O'Odham Indian escort) and myself. We had spent some time climbing in the area only a few weeks prior, but fierce El Nino rains made a mud bath out of several approach roads, so we waited for a span (several weeks) of dry weather before returning to claim Dave's last two highpoints. Unfortunately, Fl Nine had no mercy as we awoke Saturday morning to cloudy skies and we departed Mesquite's trailhead in the pouring rain. Hey, we "needed" the peak and this after an elusive drive in. Thankfully, the route was relatively easy, albeit bouldery through the golden poppy fields on the approach to the cliffy summit plateau where we arrived in a near-whiteout. Standing on benchmark Mesquite (3,789'), El Nino kicked in to high gear and began pelting us with rain, wind and hail. Standing in defiance, trying to sign the dampened register, Fl Nine finally receded and we had momentary views. Trying to stay dry was ajoke. Furthermore, we were wondering what had become of the then-dry approach roads through the mesquite fields. We would soon find out. Returning to our vehicles, the ground had become noticeably slick and muddy and it wasn't until the final mile of dirt road that we had extreme mud. Dave's comment was to keep it going at any cost. None of us had ':'ever" driven in mud (wet clay) that bad. Slipping and sliding, no steering to speak of, windshield wipers going full speed to wipe away the mud spray, it was 4WD E-ticket back to asphalt. El Nino was getting revenge. Fortunately, other than the trauma of uncertainty, we all made it back to pavement where it started to rain some more. A mixed blessing, it helped clean the layers of slick clay off our trucks, yet caused numerous deep water pockets as we drove north to highway 86 towards camp. We were thankful to be out of that mess. Onwards we drove, towards the next peak, Mt. Devine, highpoint of the North Comobabi Mountains. Sunday morning, a bit clearer but still threatening, we met Doug Kasian, consolidated in to 4WD trucks and then spent the better part of an hour groping for access roads, a common event when there's no guide to help you. But, we go armed with 7.5' maps and GPS, without which, we would be spending even more time hunting around for access roads.

The climb to Mt. Devine (4,783') was sublime through saguaro forests and wild flowers. Occasionally, to liven things up, we'd find some class three here and there. Clouds continued to flow and ebb around our route and we were greeted near the summit by a white-tailed sheep of some variety. Nearing the summit, the sky and Fl Nine seemed to have some mercy as the views became far and wide. The last few steps to the highpoint commanded applause, cheers and congratulations for Dave as he stood atop the summit's benchmark and his "final" (204th) Arizona Range Highpoint.

After sharing a bottle of sparkling grape cider and numerous pictures, it was time to return to the trailhead and head back to California, yet another state with several hundred range highpoints. Jeese Dave, what could possibly be next?

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