Pole Knoll • White Mountains
• Springerville Volcanic Field
• Southern Apache County

Pole Knoll from FR-112

Where I parked

Lower slopes

Upper slopes

Approaching the top

Stick Scott gets around

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Prominence Peaks


Date: August 15, 2014 • Elevation: 9,793 feet • Prominence: 623 • Distance: 1 mile • Time: 35 minutes • Gain: 600 feet • Conditions: Humid with developing storms

After hiking Antelope Peak, the drive to Pole Knowll wasn't long, about a dozen miles. The day was cool but humid, with big puffy clouds. I hoped I had enough time to hike Pole Knoll before things got unpleasant.

I drove westbound on AZ-260 to Forest Road 112 on my left (south), immediately north of Pole Knoll. I drove south less than a mile and parked alongside the road near a small sign, which I think is directed toward cross-country skiers. This area would be perfect for Nordic skiing.

The sky was getting cloudier, but I still had mostly blue skies directly above me. The real action was to the southwest, where Mount Baldy was now socked in by gray and black storm clouds. I could hear regular rumbles of distant thunder. It was a matter of time before the whole area was under the clouds.

I started hiking directly up-slope through the shin-high grasses. I kept to the margin between a completely-open grass slope on my right, and a sparse forest of ponderosa pine. I hustled a little, and had gained about 570 feet to top out on a small knob, the summit being another couple hundred feet to the east and about 30 feet higher. I would hear thunder every minute or so.

I gained the top not long afterwards, propped up Stick Scott for a photo, kicked a few cairns and rocks, then hightailed may way back down. The open slopes and pleasant gradients meant I could almost jog-walk my way down. The entire round trip took just over a half-hour, covering about a mile.

I drove south toward Boardshack Knoll but by the time I arrived there, the storms were essentially here, so I didn't chance anything and instead, drove back to the Winn Campground. My wife was safe in her camp chair in the porch of our new mongo-tent. It was about 11 a.m. and for the next two hours, we sat in the porch as the rain drizzled down upon us. We never had anything stronger than a steady rain, but the lightning and thunder were putting on a show.

Around 1 p.m., I drove back to the camp hosts to buy a bundle of firewood. They weren't in, so I got back into my truck, turned the key over, and nothing. Completely dead. "What the...?", I thought. My lights worked well and so did the other things that required electricity, so the battery seemed okay. I had a hunch it was the starter/solenoid.

By now, the camp host re-appeared and he helped as much as he could. He knew a little about vehicles and was able to confirm that it was very likely the starter unit. So I called Triple-A, happy to have a cell signal up here. In the meantime, we played fetch with Dusty the german shepherd. In an hour, they sent a guy from Springerville. He did a little checking too, and agreed it was the starter. By now, it was close to 2:30 p.m.

You can't "jump" a starter, so the only option, other than a tow which would require another hour of waiting, was to do a push-start. I hadn't done one of those since I was in college. I was in the driver seat, put the truck in neutral, and the Triple-A guy and camp host guy pushed me. I put the gear into second and the truck rumbled and by gum, it started! That was good news because it saved us the cost of a tow. I quickly thanked the two guys, drove to where Beth was camping and told her I had to immediately drive down into Show Low for a repair. Beth was aware of the situation as I had walked back to camp a couple times to keep her apprised. She agreed it was our only option.

I drove into Show Low, about 30 miles from camp. I found a Firestone place in Pinetop-Lakeside, the "suburb" of Show Low. It was about 4 p.m. and they closed at 6. I explained my situation and at first, they said the earliest they could get to it was tomorrow morning. I was expecting this and had already made plans to stay the night at a nearby cheapo hotel, of which there were many to choose from.

The Firestone guys were totally cool and immediately put my truck to the front of the line, and in 90 minutes, had replaced the fried starter with a brand new one. Man, I can't tell you how relieved I was, and very grateful. They're actually a privately-owned outfit that franchises with Firestone. They are Young's Future Tire, with three locations in the area. If you have car trouble in Show Low or Pinetop, go there. They rock and roll!

By now, it's 6 p.m. and my truck is healthy again. I drove back up to camp, and Beth was actually surprised to see me because she, too, had expected this would be an overnight deal. I rolled in about 7 p.m. and built a nice fire, the rains having cleared out by now. What a day!

The following day, I hiked three more summits in the area, starting with Peak 9744, the peak immediately south of Greens Peak..

Dusty and his fetch ball

(c) 2014 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.