Wow! It had been12 years since I did this hike. Now I know why :) Actually I felt good during the entire hike. I was never very tired and I had no cramps or physical problems. I coated my feet three times with Blister Buster and never even had a hot spot.
Four of us made all four peaks. We started with seven hikers. One dropped out as we entered Juniper Canyon. It was hot even at 6:30 in the morning. I was concerned about the heat, but it was not a problem after Juniper Peak.
Although I felt I was hiking slow, we made it to Juniper Peak in 71 minutes! That is super fast and beats my time 12 years ago by 13 minutes and it was not as hot back in 1997. At that point there were four of us and we were soon on our way to Gunsight Notch Peak. As we were descending the backside of Juniper, we heard Sirak yelling. He and Calvin somehow managed to find the route off of Juniper and were above us. We waited a few minutes for them to catch up.
We beat the sun hiking up Gunsight Notch Canyon thus we had shade. 88 minutes after leaving Juniper Peak five of us were standing at Gunsight Notch Peak. Sirak was doing his own hike and was on the other side of Gunsight Notch. So far he only made Juniper Peak, but was within 200 yards of peak number 2!
We were over 6,000 feet now and had a slight breeze which really made the heat tolerable. A mere 69 minutes later we were standing on the summit of Rainbow Peak. We were smoking! Sirak again did his own hike and this time came within 150 yards of Rainbow Peak!!!
We began the 3,000 foot descent into Oak Creek Canyon. With each step the temperature rose. It was decision time when we came to the junction down in Oak Creek. Calvin and Sirak headed home. Mark, Hector, Shin and I headed for Mt. Wilson via Cleaver Crack.
The Cleaver Crack route involves some serious climbing with one traverse that results in a death fall if a hiker makes a mistake. As we made our way up the route Shin was cramping badly. He stopped and stretched as best he could just before the scary traverse. Once beyond the traverse it's a safe, but still strenuous hike to the summit. Some four hours after we left Rainbow Peak, we were standing on Mt. Wilson, the fourth and final peak of the day.
The descent off of Wilson was uneventful and we actually had a lot of shade. We were back to the trailhead by 6:15 pm.
Elevation gain: ~ 7900 feet
Hiking time: 11 hours 44 minutes.
Click here for a great slide show of the hike. (Thanks Shin for the slide show.)