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King’s Crown Peak Day Hike
November 18, 2000
by Ted Tenny
  Trail Map 
Shivering hikers pause briefly for a group picture.

Wind chill! With temperatures in the 30s and a stiff wind blowing, we skipped the introductions, formalities and niceties, and started hiking as soon as possible to warm ourselves up. All day the wind kept blowing hats off and untying shoelaces (we’re not sure how, but it happened). We saw patches of ice on the ground throughout the hike.

Seven winterized hikers went this time: Yu-ling and David Langford, Peter Ng, Chuck Parsons, Anatoli Korkin, Tom Van Lew, and hike leader Ted Tenny.

First we walked west beside the highway to get to the bridge over Queen Creek. Then we left the road, squeezed through a fence, and started climbing.

King's Crown Peak from Apache Leap.
Looking down on Picketpost Mountain.

There is a decision to make as you start northward toward the peak. Do you cross over to the left (west) side of the valley, or do you stay on the right (east) side?

Cross over to the left and you have a reasonable route across the lower part of the valley and along a western ridge leading up to King’s Crown Peak. Stay on the right and it’s easy to get too high. You either have to dip way down through the valley or continue walking the eastern ridge, which soon leads to peak 5083, a rugged butte crowned with jagged truck-sized boulders.

So we stayed on the right and walked the eastern ridge.

After boulder-scrambling to the top of peak 5083, we had to scramble back down to the saddle north of it.

Yu-ling and David had had enough, so I pointed out an escape route to the east that would take them down to the mine road, which we could see. They started down. We didn’t see them again, but I know they made it because their car was gone.

That left five of us. Tom and Anatoli headed straight across the valley toward the peak, while Peter, Chuck and I took a different route that turned out to be slower. When we crossed the stream, Peter went on ahead to join Tom and Anatoli at the top.

Chuck and I were just below the peak when we got a radio transmission from Tom, Peter and Anatoli. After climbing to the top they had already started down, the wrong way. Tom told us the wind was so strong that it almost blew them off the mountain, so we should turn around and join them down in the valley. I told them to stay there. Then Chuck and I contoured the east side of the ridge below the peak and climbed down to meet them.

King's Crown Peak and Silverado Ridge from peak 5083.
The view from the top.
When we got there we learned that Anatoli wasn’t dressed warmly enough. He had to get going to keep warm. Peter would go with him. I wanted to stay in contact, so I had them take a radio. Then we discovered that the batteries in the radios were dead. So we borrowed batteries out of flashlights, cameras, and GPS receivers to get the radios working again. I pointed out the way, then Anatoli and Peter left.

We were watching them climb the ridge northeast of King’s Crown Peak as Tom, Chuck and I got under way. This wasn’t our planned return route, but I knew that the mine road was way down below on the other side of the ridge. To get to the ridge from where we were, we had to climb above a big thicket of manzanita. Finally we made it up to the ridge, just north of peak 5121.

Then we got the full blast of the wind! It almost blew us down. The day had warmed up to the high 40s, but nothing could have prepared us for the wind coming over that ridge.

We also had a big manzanita thicket below us, and no way go get around it. So we bushwhacked. The good part is that you can slip without falling. If the wind doesn’t keep you from falling, the branches will catch you. The bad part is that the branches are an enormous drag on your feet. It is really tiring to have to fight your way through them.

The going got easier when we were through the thicket. But it didn’t last. We soon came to the canyon that flows east between peaks 5083 and 5121. It’s full of brush.

We tried to get above the brush by climbing up on one side of the canyon or the other, but to no avail. So we bushwhacked right down the middle, with Ted in the lead serving as bulldozer. Finally we came to a tiny waterfall, which we had to go around. The ground was clear of brush on the north side! We stayed the course, and soon found ourselves on the mine road.

Then an angel appeared. Actually it was Anatoli, who had brought Peter with him and driven down the mine road to look for us after they walked back to Oak Flat. The road was smooth, the wind had calmed somewhat, and the afternoon warmed up to 50°, but it didn’t take us a millisecond to decide to ride with Anatoli and Peter back to the trailhead.

Finally, let me accentuate the positives about our hike to King’s Crown Peak:
•  3 of the 7 hikers – Anatoli, Tom, and Peter – enjoyed the lovely view from the top.
•  The air was clean.
•  No one had heat exhaustion.

   This hike is described in Footloose from Phoenix, by Ted Tenny, pages 200-204.
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updated September 3, 2017