Looks like I ended up doing this one myself. Arrived at the Firstwater TH about 8:00 a.m. Let my wife know that even though there were only a few cars, and it was mid-week, the lot would still be jammed later on.
Forgot my windbreaker, but at 52° it was nearly ideal hiking temperature (upper 50s) anyway. There was no wind, but I was boogering up anyway, while simultaneously sweating buckets. Must have been the humidity evaporating off the ground and grasses. (My shoes would remain wet all day.)
Passed a guy meditating just north of Parker Pass. He actually spoke first, and I looked around for where the voice was coming from. Turns out he was maybe 10 yards off trail. If it was me, I would find a place somewhat more isolated than the heavily travelled Lost Dutchman Trail #104 to achieve inner peace. I said sorry for disturbing you, and meant it. I certainly hope it did not sound sarcastic!
Couple of lady hikers caught up to me about the signed intersection where all the trails and canyons come together. I told them I was heading to Aylor’s Arch, and they mentioned there was a mine up there, but by the time I started my climb up the drainage, I had completely forgotten about it.
At the bottom of the Palomino Mountain drainage, I noticed a pointy rock, with a gap through which planes heading east could be spotted. Of course, as soon as I realized this would make a great photo, they stopped flying by.
When I set out, I knew I would at least hike to the base of Aylor’s Arch. When I arrived at the drainage, I figured I would at least climb up Palomino Mountain a bit to get a better photo. Once I got my better photo, I figured I might as well keep going. It was my first good decision of the day.
The drainage was steep, slippery, bouldery and heavily vegetated. Though there were not a lot of cat claw, holy jeebus were they the most painful cat claw ever! I basically followed the official route, which is also the cairned route. It goes up the left side of the drainage about 2/3 of the way, then crosses over to the right for the final third.
The views at the top were awesome, particularly of Weavers Needle. I tend not to read previous triplogs — which adds to my sense of discovery — so I was surprised to find a mailbox at the summit. It’s a relatively new log, ony three years old, so no Packard or Martin, though I am sure they’ve been there. The log did have a number of Hazards, including Outdoor Lover, Ray Houston and Teva Joe. And Kilroy.
It took me 55 minutes to get up Palomino Mountain, but only 50 minutes to get down. By the time I got back to the signed intersection, I was no longer feeling it. My cardiovascular system was feeling strained, so rather than stick to my plan of returning on 241 and 236 through Garden Valley, I headed back up Lost Dutchman. That was my second good decision of the day, as I was exhausted by the time I got back to the trailhead, and that despite taking multiple quick breathers along the way. I was particularly glad when I finally got back up Parker Pass, so that the final 2.5 miles were downhill.
Best part of the hike was the feeling of accomplishment — something I do not recall previously feeling about a hike.
Distance: 10.81 mi.
AEG: 1,554 ft.
Time: 5h 11m