Iron Dike & Peak 4879 attempt • Mazatzal Mountains
• Gila & Maricopa Counties


Iron Dike
 

Below the talus slopes, a power line stanchion
 

The slope upward
 

Daniel near what we thought was the highest point
 

Stone walls
 

Stone walls from farther away
 

Daniel atop a stone wall
 

South view toward Peak 4879
 

A cairn, but not at the highest point
 

Now following a very old road toward Peak 4879
 

At the highpoint, we're pretty sure (or maybe not)
 

North view toward Iron Dike
 

West view
 

East view of Mount Ord
 

Peak 4879 as we exit, a stock pond below
 

Iron Dike as seen from the Mount Ord Road
 

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Date: March 19, 2017

Iron Dike: Elevation: 5,027 feet • Prominence: 427 feet • Distance: 2 miles • Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes • Gain: 547 feet

Peak 4879 attempt: Elevation: 4,879 feet • Prominence: 359 feet • Distance: 3.5 miles • Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes • Gain: 400 feet

Conditions: Clear, slightly warm • Teammate: Daniel Fleischmann

Dan Fleischmann emailed me, proposing two quick hikes to a couple of peaks near Mount Ord, about 45 miles from the Scottsdale area. It was going to be a hot day (mid 90s) in town, so a couple fast and easy peaks in the mid-elevations would be welcome.

Iron Dike is an interesting peak directly across the Beeline Highway (AZ-87) from the Mount Ord exit, where the highway crests the Mazatzal Range and starts downhill (if heading north) toward Payson. Aside from its cool name, Iron Dike appears to be a volcanic plug (?) of some sort, a hump of lava boulders with steep slopes and moderate brush cover, looking somewhat out of place among the nearby hills. It's one of those peaks that gets seen thousands of times every day by motorists but less than a dozen could tell you its name.

The other peak of interest is an unnamed mesa to the south, topped by spot elevation 4879. Together, both peaks would entail over 5 miles of hiking and nearly a thousand feet of vertical gain. Old ranch roads run nearby the peaks, so that the off-trail hiking would be minimal.

I picked up Dan in Scottsdale, and followed Shea Boulevard east to the Beeline, then northbound to the apex of the highway, where Mount Ord Road goes right and another road signed for Sycamore Creek goes left (this road is paved and leads down to Sycamore Creek and a number of other roads and trailheads). The one-way drive took about 45 minutes and covered about 50 miles.

I drove down the road a bit, then up a side road, both of us inspecting a way up Iron Dike. From the west side, the slopes look way too severe, parts being big scree and talus landslides. What wasn't rock was heavy brush, so we backed out and decided to go up a ranch track on the east side. I parked in a turnout about a quarter-mile in from the highway. We started hiking at 8:15 a.m.

We walked northbound along the southbound lanes of the highway, cars whizzing past us. To be safe, we stayed on the other side of the little barriers. There was an unbelievable amount of garbage on the slopes below us, stuff tossed out by drivers and just collecting there. We didn't walk very far, perhaps a half mile, coming upon a dirt track that goes up a slope to a gate. Past the gate, we followed the track past a stock tank, rounded a bend, and there was Iron Dike, right there before us. Big power lines ran across its base.

We kept to the track as far as was sensible, angling until we were a little northeast of the peak, where the slopes looked less steep and possibly less brushy. We left the track and barged upslope. The ground was grassy and covered in small rubbly volcanic rocks. There were lots of agave and big agave stalks lying on the ground. There were some small trees and woody brush. It was slow, but there were open lanes and we were soon on top of Iron Dike. I didn't check the time but the hike didn't take long, perhaps about 35 minutes.

The top is flat, rocky and brushy. The highpoint could be anywhere up here. We walked to a few places that looked good and tagged everything. On the south end, there are stone walls running about 40 feet, then angling for another 40 feet. Inside the crook is a stone circle about 15 feet in diameter. The walls stand about 3 feet high. As usual, we wondered who put them here. Cowboys? It seems unlikely since this would be an odd place to collect cattle (and why build a stone circle?). Indians? Maybe... but these ruins, if that's what they are, don't have that same look as other nearby ruins I have seen. Maybe it was an old military fortification in the most basic sense. Who knows. The internet says nothing about these walls.

We spent about 20 minutes up here, looking around and inspecting the walls. There is a cairn on a rock promontory, but it is not at the highest point. There was no sign-in log. After we gave the area good coverage, we started down. The downhill hike went well, and we were soon back to the "start", but we had no need to go back to the car just yet. Next up was Peak 4879. We just stayed on the highway.

We walked a little bit south to a point where there was a small patch of flat ground beside the highway, about a thousand feet from the side road where I had parked. The satellite images show an old road starts here. We found it, but it is very faint. There's a barbed wire fence but no gate where the road passes through it. Clearly, this road is not intended to be ever driven again. We carefully hopped the fence. On the other side, the road is a little more distinct but not much. It was good enough for a path to follow.

This road/path gains about 200 feet heading west, levelling off near a metal stock tank. The road drops a little, then swings southwest and gains up to the mesa rim. At the rim, there is another stock tank, a concrete one with relatively clear water in it. Looked good enough to drink directly, if you ask me.

From here to the top was a flat trek across the brushy and rocky mesa top. The top is along the north-facing rim, so we walked a trail for a few hundred yards, then cross country to what looked like a highpoint. Once there, we saw a higher point nearby, went to it and determined we were at the highest point. The elevations dropped off in both directions. The views were good, including looking back at Iron Dike, plus big surrounding peaks like Mount Ord, Saddle Peak and Pine Butte. There was no registry here and I doubt this peak gets climbed more than once every few years.

We walked back the way we came, the only variation being a trip into the brush to avoid a big bull standing under a tree, staring at us. Neither of us wanted to walk directly past him, fearing he might take our motions as an agression. Once back to the fence at the highway, we took another detour, dropping down to a small stock pond then up to my vehicle, rather than walking along the highway.

Together, Dan's GPS said we'd covered 5.5 miles. I put my parking location at 4,480 feet, so the two hikes together come to nearly 1,000 feet, perhaps a little more if some ups and downs are accounted for. We had been gone for just two hours and forty-five minutes.

Each peak by itself would probably not be worth the trouble to drive all this way, but together, the two peaks make for a good half-morning hike. Iron Dike is a pretty peak, but I can't say the same for Peak 4879. However, we got two for the price of one, and that is important too, in this day and age of being frugal. Thanks to Dan for suggesting these hikes!

Dan wanted to see the road up Mount Ord, so when we exited, I simply drove across the highway onto the Mount Ord Road. I was last on it in 2006. It is paved, then good hardpack. I drove in about a mile then turned around at a wide-spot. We took photos of Iron Dike from up here, then started back down the road to the highway. When we drove back to Scottsdale, the temperatures were in the low 90s. It was a warm day for March, but clear and blue, too. Actually, not too bad except for the warmth. I dropped Dan off at his vehicle, I went home, showered and napped and did housework.


Postscript: Dan feels we may have missed the highest point on that mesa, Peak 4879. When we were at what we thought was the highest point, it looked fairly definitive, but in studying the GPS track with maps and imagery afterwards, we cannot be sure. Until further notice, we both consider this peak as an attempt, not a completion. If (or when) I go back to reclimb it properly, I'll add the story here.


Peak 4879 Re-do
Date: March 25, 2017 • Distance: 3 miles • Time: 1 hour • Gain: 400 feet • Conditions: Overcast

I returned a week later to rehike Peak 4879. It bothered me we had "missed" the top somehow. I figured I should take advantage of the opportunity to rehike it, especially while the urge is strong, and the weather cool. I left home at 6 a.m., got gas and snacks, and arrived to the parking area a little before 7 a.m.. The day was cool (about 55 F) and cloudy, muting the sun.

I locked everything up and followed the same path as last week. I got to where the road levels off near a metal stock tank. Here, I barged directly up the rocky slopes, gaining the mesa-top a few minutes later. I was east a few hundred yards of where Dan and I had hiked to last week.

I left nothing to chance. I walked all the way to the eastern rim of the mesa, then systematically walked west across the mesa, tagging or stepping on any rockpile or promontory I could find. It becomes clear that any highpoints will be at or very near the mesa rim. There are no unusual rockpiles or spires set farther away from the rim.

Near one rock promontory, about where the spot elevation is shown on the map, I found a three-foot high rock cairn. It was clearly human-made and may be where the spot elevation was taken by the surveyors. However, there was no other evidence of people such as a brass disk embedded in the rock or sign-in register, or geocache full of worthless plastic crap. I then walked to the other promontory, the one Daniel and I stopped at last week. I also sighted between the promontories. I feel that the one where Dan and I got to last week still may be the highest, and the next one to the east, with the rock cairn, maybe close, possibly within a foot or two. Everything else was definitively lower.

I tried to keep my time here short. There was some bull cow mooing in the brush nearby, not sure if he was upset at me. It was all business: find a high rock, tag it, look for other ones, tag them, and repeat. By the time I had walked west back to the concrete stock tank mentioned in last week's report, I was certain I had touched the highest point at some point. This was a Schrodinger highpoint: I touched it but know not when, and at some point in time I touched the highpoint, but know not where.

I knew where I wanted to be next, which was down and back to my vehicle. The hike out went fast and I was back to my vehicle after about an hour on this mission. It was just a bit after 8 a.m.. With time to kill, I drove down to Sycamore Creek to where the road is gated about four miles in, about a mile past the Cross F Ranch property. I wanted to see what was down there and look for possible camping options for a future visit. Then I drove back to the highway and back home, arriving a little after 9 a.m.

I was happy to get this peak done right. It's not an exciting peak at all. I only suggested it last week as an add-on when Dan and I hiked Iron Dike, figuring we could get two for the price of one and some extra exercise. Otherwise, I'd never come here for this one bump on its own. If you're reading this for ideas, don't bother with this peak unless you're also going to hike Iron Dike, and also enjoy lots of rubbly rock and cow poop.

Images taken March 25 on the "re do" hike.


Beline Highway, seen
from East rim

Looking west at last
week's promontory
 

The rock cairn I found

Another man-made rock thing

(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.