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Quartz Peak Day Hike
Sierra Estrella
March 24, 2001
by Ted Tenny
QuartzPeak

Today the Motorolans climbed Quartz Peak, 4052', the crown jewel of the Sierra Estrella. Dave Langford was our hike leader. Quartz Peak gets its name from its mineral content: the top of the mountain is a hunk of quartz the size of an 18-wheel truck.

flatland
The trail starts out flat, but sure doesn’t stay that way. [photo by Chuck]
Bigelovi
Teddy Bear chollas thrive in the Sierra Estrella. [photo by Chuck]
trail
Ted made it this far. [photo by Chuck]

Though the highest point of the Sierra Estrella is only 4512', they are wild, rugged mountains with no water anywhere. We took the only trail, a 3-mile route which climbs 2500' from the end of a primitive road up to a lookout point 1/2 mile west of the peak. The trail climbs relentlessly, zigzagging its way up to and along three parallel ridges, each higher than the one before. There’s plenty of quartz and mica along the way.

tiptop
How’s the view from the top? [photo by Chuck]
lookdown
Don’t look now, but it’s a long way down. [photo by Chuck]
benches
Those quartz boulders make good benches. [photo by Chuck]
bushwhack
Bushwhack to get back down to the Quartz Peak Trail. [photo by Chuck]
thisfar
O.K., we’ve made it partway down. [photo by Chuck]

Quartz Peak is clearly in sight at the end of the trail, with Butterfly Mountain another mile beyond. The last half mile is a rock climb over jagged boulders the size of trucks. In several places the route is marked by cairns. More often, there’s nothing to help you decide whether to go left, right, or up and over the next rocky pinnacle.

The peak has massive deposits of quartz and mica. Those who made it to the top were treated to an awesome view of Phoenix, the Gila River valley, Montezuma Peak, and other mountains all around.

hedgehog
The hedgehog cactus in bloom. [photo by Chuck]

It must have been something in the air. Halfway to Quartz Peak I got sick on the hiking trail: chills (not good on a hot day!), nausea, and an uncertain stomach.

sevenmile
Sevenmile Mountain from the Quartz Peak Trail. [photo by Ted]
springtime
Sierra Estrella Springtime! [photo by Ted]
peaks
Looking back on Montezuma Sleeping, Quartz Peak, and Montezuma Peak. [photo by Ted]

Fortunately I was carrying a Motorola 2-way radio. So I called Dave and told him of my condition and my intention to turn around and go back. A hummingbird and some lizards kept me company. Otherwise I had the Sierra Estrella wilderness to myself on my way back down to the trailhead, but can’t say I enjoyed it.

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated September 29, 2018