Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mount Ajo

A couple of visitors came into the visitor center last Sunday. Clint and Julie were talking about hiking up to Bull Pasture, but they did want to take their motor-home up the Ajo Mountain Drive. I told them that Sherri and I were going hiking in that area on Monday and they were welcome to go with us. We talked and decided to make the top of Mount Ajo our destination and to meet at 7a the next morning. We met at 7a and drove up to the parking area for the Bull Pasture/Estes Canyon loop hike, the trail to Mount Ajo starts at Bull Pasture. Pictured are Clint, Julie and Sherri at the start of the hike with Mount Ajo in the background.
The temps were cool in the valley, but as we started out it warmed up quickly. We came across some interesting rock formations and had great views from Bull Pasture toward the mountains in Mexico.

The trail to Mount Ajo winds around the southern end of Bull Pasture and in an area known as the Cones it heads straight up.
Notice the window in the rock on the right, this is the biggest one of the four that we saw. It was at this point that Julie decided the downhill was going to be too hard on her knees, so she left us.This area was the toughest part of the hike, not only is it straight up but the rock is loose and there are cactus waiting to bite.
We made it to the top of what appeared to be the crest.
This area is described in the hiking guide as a false crest and the summit with the solar panel and radio tower are still a ways off.
We made it to the top of Mount Ajo and were rewarded with spectacular views. The solar panel and antenna were installed by helicopter a few years ago.
There is an ammo can with a registry for names of hikers who made it to the top, by some counts only 100 hikers make it to the peak each year. Sherri is signing us in and we are posing on Mount Ajo.

It was a beautiful 70deg day, not bad for Nov. 27 and we felt great for our accomplishment. Clint was an excellent hiking partner and it was nice to have pictures of Sherri and I together. The hike down was harder than up in places, what with the steepness and loose rock. I did wind up on my butt a couple of times. Julie was waiting for us when we got down and as a thanks for driving Clint and Julie took us to dinner on Tuesday night in Lukeville, right on the border. It was great meeting Julie and Clint and safe travels back to Washington.
Later on Tuesday night we had a campfire in the VIP campground to say goodbye to three volunteers, we will miss Sherry, Joyce and Judy. As a few leave many more are coming in for the busy season which starts after Jan. 1.
On Thursday morning I went out in search of a large Cristate, which is an abnormal growth that occurs on Saguaros and Organ Pipes. I was led by the two Jims, who are both volunteers.
The lead Jim found this Cristate one year ago from a photo that a visitor brought in to the visitors center. Jim thought he knew exactly where to find the cactus but we went up and down washes with no luck. I finally came across a large dying Cristate and called Jim over. Sure enough the Cristate had dyed within the past year although the rest of the organ pipe cactus was fine. Jim wants to see if the Natural Resource office will allow us to remove the Cristate and use it as a learning tool on the patio at the visitors center.
It was a nice morning hike but by the time I started my shift at 1p it stated raining. We received just over a tenth which is always welcome in the desert. The massive storm which has blown away LA and much of the southwest has cooled things off in Organ Pipe.We are having highs in the 50's and lows in the 30's. Cool for here, but in comparison to the rest of the country not too bad. It is expected to warm back up soon and we will be out hiking on our days off next week.


  1. Congrats on "signing in". Looked like a very nice hike. I often find that down is actually harder than up.


  2. What a wonderful hike!! Sure hope to get back to that area and spend some time seeing and hiking all the beautiful places we missed;o((

    Really enjoyed the photos of you look so happy and healthy:o)) Can't wait to see more!!

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