NOV "Run of the Month" - Harquahala Observatory, Sat-Nov16

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Alright, guys - I volunteered to head-up the November Run-of-the-Month many moons ago, and have been really busy at work, so I'm looking for this to be a great kick-off to the cool weather wheeling season! This is a West-side run, so if you've been waiting for a chance to see the 'other' side of Phoenix, this is your trip.

DATE: Saturday, November 16

TIME: 8am @ Meet Up Point, quick Trail Run walk-thru, radio checks and departure at 8:30a, SHARP. If you're running late, call ahead, as cellphones work out there (602-738-6508 is mine), or CB channel 7. Smoke signals will not be returned.

MEETING PLACE: On Carefree Hwy (74) where it meets Grand (US60), North side of Carefree (*see map below)

RUN: From Meet up, 10mi NW to Wickenburg, 25mi E to the town of Aguila, 18mi S on Eagle Eye Rd, and 9mi of dirt N up the mountain to the observatory (yeah, I know that's 53mi of pavement one-way for 9mi of dirt, but no other way to see the observatory! - *see map below)

EQUIPMENT: There are some steep sections and rugged terrain, so higher than stock ground clearance MAY be required - no lockers are necessary. We'll plan to air-down just off the pavement from Eagle Eye Rd. If somebody has run this recently, I'm all ears... but I'm not going to call this one 'stocker-friendly'. (*I'll let the rest of you guys argue about that!)

No permits are required for this area.

History:
For those not familiar, Harquahala Observatory has some cool AZ history when it comes to Smithsonian tracking of meteorological conditions. From the BLM site, their description reads:

"Harquahala Peak Observatory was built in 1920 by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to measure and record solar activity. Although deserted now, from 1920-1925 a hardy group of scientists lived and worked atop the highest mountain in southwestern Arizona (5681 foot elevation). At the time, it was about an hour's drive from Wenden, Arizona, to the mountain, with a 3-hour hike to the top of the peak. Burros were used to pack building supplies, living supplies and equipment to the mountaintop. Most difficult of all to transport were the delicate recording machines and laboratory equipment. Even water had to be transported by burro until collection tanks could be built."

"Harquahala was an observatory without telescopes. Rather, a theodolite was used for measuring the sun's altitude above the horizon. Pyrheliometers, mercury thermometers with shutters that opened or closed at set intervals to record heating and cooling, measured energy from both the sun's direct rays and scattered rays, and a pyranometer, an electric instrument, measured heat from the atmosphere around the sun. After tedious observation and data collection, the raw information was mathematically calculated by hand, sent to Washington, D.C., compared with data from another observatory, and used in forecasting weather."

And,

"For the scenic enthusiast, the summit is the highest point in southwest Arizona (5,691ft) with breathtaking 360 degree vistas. For hikers, a pack trail leads from the summit down the mountain through the Harquahala Wilderness Area designated in The Arizona Desert Wilderness Act of 1990. The trail has several difficult and steep portions. For the history buff, the drive displays old mining debris, shafts and stone houses from earlier miners. The grand finale is realized at the summit with the Harquahala Peak Observatory. The observatory was built by the Smithsonian in 1920 to measure and record solar activity. It was abandoned in 1925 and in 1975 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has since been stabilized."

Link: http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/cultural/harcs.html

They even have a .PDF map: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/az/images/cult.Par.20992.File.dat/HarquahalaMap.pdf

CSC Maps - Meet-up Spot (Carefree & Grand) - North side of Carefree (74), there's a wide-spot just before you hit Grand that you can't miss. If coming up Grand Ave (US60), turn North onto Carefree, and you'll see us right there - I'll be there early:
huf1ac.jpg


CSC Run-of-the-Month Destination - Harquahala Peak Observatory:
iqvjpc.jpg


The buildings you see above are a desert visitors center, and I'm digging for info to see what's there regarding amenities. Plan for lunch at the summit to take in the views, and this falls within the Harquahala Mountains Wilderness area if you're planning to camp or hike - there should be plenty of locations off the main trail.

I'll state up-front, I'm not a hard-core wheeler (like some in this group), and tend to take it easy on most runs, generally avoiding obstacles if unnecessary, and I take good care of my Landcruiser. That said, I picked this route so that nobody would be apprehensive about the run - this should NOT be a difficult drive, and the road up is mostly graded and even light paving in places (I Google-Earth pre-ran this tonight!).

Plan on a quick bring-your-own lunch at the top, and departure will be whenever everyone gets bored. Given this is only about 80mi W of Phoenix, it's relatively close - so this will be a day-trip, out and back. For those going back to Central or East Valley locations, it may be faster for you to take Eagle Eye Rd South to Salome Rd and down to I-10 to get back to Phoenix on the hardball - so you can make your own decision.

I'll take a final count of Landcruisers in attendance on Friday night, November 15th - which will be our participant checklist for Saturday's meet-up. I'm really looking forward to getting out, as I've been working a lot of weekends lately, and missed the last 2 club meetings. I hope to see some of you guys on the trail!

P.S. - I told LCPhil I'd post this at midnight on Friday, Nov15th before the run - so consider this 'advanced' notice!
 
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Was up there a couple months back - all stock - I think I needed to lock the rear end at one rock pile on the way up - and used 4x4 low on the way down. I'll be trying to join this trip.

The larger building is a working microwave repeater (closed to the public); the smaller building (photo below) is the old research station. The site is pretty run down - all info signs removed, no amenities I could find.

TDM_0536.jpg


TDM_0553.jpg
 
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@GWcruiser - thanks much for providing a recent report, I really appreciate it!

Would you consider a stock Landcruiser (no lockers) would have any issues getting up that section?

@msahr - those ATV's made it from the bottom to the top in less than 30min, and back down in the same, so for those who didn't watch the video, plan on this being a fairly quick trip.

I have a feeling most of our time will be spent on top for lunch and pictures. Thanks again,
 
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Longduck,

Any real 4x4 will handle the road. The trip is pretty easy, I only locked because I didn't want to back up and go around the rock I was against -- I just pushed the button and kept going. At no time was I concerned about the road, clearance, etc. - and that was with street tread tires. But it was fun and is worth a second trip.

As for the video - those guys were scooting and slid around most of the corners. I personally didn't make it in 30 minutes and don't plan on trying. The road is bumpy and washed out in spots and my "off-road" suspension isn't that kind to my back and bum :) it took well over an an hour up (almost two?) and about the same down (granny 4x4 to manage speed in the steep parts). There are plenty of places to let people pass us slowpokes.

http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/autotour/harq_summit.html

Another YouTube has a couple larger dual-sport bikes turning around due to the rough road... took them 25 minutes to make it half way up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulmcnKDDojM
 

LandCruiserPhil

Peter Pan Syndrome
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VJC did this run on 9-22-13, rated it a 2.5:rolleyes:

Today was a great day. Not challenging as long as common sense is used. It is steep, and switches back over some narrow areas. Once up top of the highest peak in So. AZ, the views are phenomenal. Nice group to wheel with. Too bad well be losing a couple great jeepers to other regions.

Sounds stocker friendly
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Anyone up for camping?
 
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As far as ratings go: anyone care to rate Colorado Overlook trail in Canyonlands NP? I did most of it, but wimped the last 1/2 mile or so -- no rock rails to protect against that last narrow spot that looked like it'd take door paint if you missed the line.

ps: not intending to derail the Nov trip thread; just a quick lazy question :whoops:
 
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I actually did this back in June in my 05 4Runner. Only mods were a daystar spacer lift of 2.5" and another 1" of height from tires, no lockers. The trail was easy then, just took my time to get up to the top. Like everyone else says, awesome views from the top.
 
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Bump to the top for ROTM, November. I have it in my calendar the Monthly CSC meeting is this Friday night, with ROTM on Saturday morning, so I'll go for a count here and a count at the meeting of who plans to attend.

Thanks, guys - and looking forward to it!
 
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i'd love to make this one, especially since its on my side of town, but my kids have a swim meet all weekend. Bummer. I'll be at the Friday meet though. Gotta get back in the CSC'er swing of things again.
 
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Some new members over the past few days so one last bump to the top for visibility. This ROTM is tomorrow, Saturday, Nov16, and if you're interested, please post up here or catch me at the CSC meeting tonight, so I can keep an eye out for you at the meetup.

My LandCruiser will be clearly marked tonight with my Mudname, but I shouldn't be hard to find. Thanks, and hope to see everyone at the meetup at 8a sharp, OR at the Eagle Claw turn off onto dirt for the air down at 9:30a - another club member contacted me who will be making the drive out across I10, which is easier for him.
 
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Some quick pictures from the run yesterday - Meetup point:
bhzvp5.jpg


CSC Parking Only (*note the wind sock in the background = 25kt winds):
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View of the lower parking area:
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Looking out to the West and distant horizon:
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I had a great time on this run, and thanks to GWCruiser for making this a fun event - always nice to spend time on the trail and meet new people with common interests! Looking forward to the December ROTM,
 
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25 knots of wind is a good wheeling day, keeps the dust from rolling in behind you for the follower.

Any signs or plaques that described what took place there? Pictures?

Sorry I missed this, have wanted to drive up there for years and never made the time. Thanks for posting up.
 

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