E J Peak • a.k.a. Lone Mountain • Goldfield Mountains (?)
• Tonto National Forest/City of Mesa
• Maricopa County


E J Peak as seen from the car park
 

Still down low
 

About halfway up
 

Almost there
 

Not a benchmark in the usual sense, but literally, a bench mark
 

East view of the slightly lower east bump, then the Goldfield Mountains and in back, the Superstitions
 

South view of Pass Mountain
 

West view of Usery Mountain
 

Northwest view with Mount McDowell, Arizona Dam Butte, and the McDowell Mountain in back
 

Virga falling, looking north toward the Four Peaks
 

View of the top from the eastern bump
 

Wildflowers and cholla
 

Arizona PageMain Page

Arizona's
Prominence Peaks


.

Date: February 26, 2017 • Elevation: 2,809 feet • Prominence: 609 feet • Distance: 2.5 miles • Time: 90 minutes • Gain: 770 feet • Conditions: Cloudy, some sprinkles

On the maps, this hill is called Lone Mountain, and is located along Usery Pass Road where the Tonto National Forest borders the city of Mesa. It is across the road from Usery Mountain, and immediately north of Pass Mountain, which is part of the Goldfield Mountains. I am not sure what range this peak belongs to. I would lean to Goldfield going by the road being the boundary. Locally, the peak is called E J Peak, going by a bench someone installed in the summit. If there were benchmarks, they were gone on my visit. I do not know what E J stands for, but it's been known by this name for awhile, so it is quasi-official, although you won't see it on any maps.

This past week, my wife and I bid goodbye to our beloved 17-year old cat, Sassy, who passed away early in the morning on Friday (the 24th). She had been ill for awhile and had really gone downhill in the past ten days, the last couple being a long vigil as she was checking out. We were devastated by her death, but also relieved for her, for she was now no longer infirm nor in pain, and could now go to the big farm upstate and play forever. Friday and Saturday were zombie days for us. We stayed home and did little, letting the grieving process run its course.

So Sunday, I just needed to get out for a couple hours and do something. This peak was close by, looked easy, with decent parking. I have already climbed the two aforementioned peaks, the last being Usery Mountain about a year ago. I left home about 10 a.m., the day cold and gray with low clouds and spotty rain. The drive took about a half hour, and I rolled into the Bulldog Canyon parking area, squeezing in between the other cars and horse trailers. I was hiking by about 10:40 a.m., the temperature about 60 degrees but chilly with a breeze. I packed light and started in.

I followed Forest Road 3445 a few yards, then because I didn't know any better, followed a trail toward the hill which petered out quickly, and fed me back to the main road. I walked the main road a few more dozen yards to a split, and I went left. I got up about 100 vertical feet and all along doubted if I was on the right path. And I realized I never locked my vehicle for certain. I decided to play it safe, and walk back to the trailhead, lock my vehicle (it was unlocked) and start back in, this time "looking harder" for a trail to the top.

I found another promising-looking path that was great—for about 100 feet. It then petered out in the low brush. I decided to cut across to that road mentioned earlier. In a few minutes, I was at that road again, where I had been about 10 minutes earlier. I still wasn't 100% sure this was correct, but I figured I would follow it and see. I could always go cross-country if necessary.

The good news was that this was the right trail. It meandered a little but soon started angling more up than across. I soon gained a ridge, then a high saddle, then a steep slope to the top. The trail along the way was well kept, with rocks forming the outer rim and small "gardens" where the rocks were laid out like little walkways.

On top, I inspected the bench, with "E J PEAK 2787" routed into it. The bench looks recent, or it's possibly replaced on a regular basis by the E J Peak Marching & Chowder Society. The highest point are some rocks about 15 feet away. I tagged them, but could not locate a register or any other markers. I was the only one up here and had not seen anyone once I started going higher on the trails.

From the top, the views of the surrounding mountains are plentiful, with Usery, Pass and Dome Peaks all close by, and bigger peaks like the Superstitions, the Four Peaks, the McDowells, Red Mountain, and Camelback all visible. I snapped photos, but the sky was a deep gray and the colors were not the best. Looking to the northeast, a mound of rocks seems about as high, so I walked to these rocks, and looked back. The first summit with the bench is definitely higher. I walked back to the first summit and sat some more.

I was in no hurry, and decided to veg a few minutes up here, having the whole place to myself. There was a helicopter buzzing Pass Mountain... possibly a rescue? There were campers down below me in the desert draws surrounding the hill. I could hear trucks and ATVs on the forest-desert tracks below, vehicles engine-braking on Usery Pass Road, and incessant gunfire from the shooting range near Usery Mountain. So it wasn't very quiet. I allowed myself a few minutes to think about little Sassy, hoping she was happy in her new place.

A steady sprinkle started to fall while I was on top, so I started down, going slow to keep from slipping on the gravelly sections. I got down about 200 feet and could see a couple with their dog in the saddle below. As I got nearer, it was clear something was awry, so I walked over to see what was up. The dog, a beautiful brown-and-black german shepherd, had walked into a cholla patch and got a bunch of cholla balls and spines on its legs and within the pads of its paws. He was in distress, but as his owners would try to remove the spines, the dog would kick, making it all worse.

I was able to help knock off some of the cholla balls and pull out some of the barbs from its paw. He would kick and squirm, his owner holding him as best he could. In about ten minutes, we got as much as we could get off, hopefully allowing the dog to walk without pain. None of us had pliers (I left mine in the car for such a short hike). I felt bad for the doggie, but happy to help. I want to keep my positive animal karma as high as possible right about now.

I was back to my vehicle slightly before noon, a 90-minute hike, give or take. I felt good, a little tired, and happy to have got out for a little while and not be so continually sad about my kitty. I drove home, taking a slightly-scenic route to inspect some other short bluffs and hills in the area, getting some ideas for short hikes to do when it's hotter.

Back home, I showered and rested and did some work for my online class. Beth was feeling good and resting herself. The pain of losing a family pet is profound and even as I write this a few days later, I still feel deeply sad. There's just no way around it, and I accept that. I am grateful to have had this wonderful cat as part of my family for so many years.


Sassy

(c) 2017 Scott Surgent. For entertainment purposes only. This report is not meant to replace maps, compass, gps and other common sense hiking/navigation items. Neither I nor the webhost can be held responsible for unfortunate situations that may arise based on these trip reports. Conditions (physical and legal) change over time! Some of these hikes are major mountaineering or backpacking endeavors that require skill, proper gear, proper fitness and general experience.