Epic Santa Teresa trek--
Left work early on Fri; Brian and I headed out to the Santa Teresas. I was wanting to rehike Cottonwood mtn, but looking at the map decided to try to get to the Devil's Hole and tank area and explore there. We knew weather was coming in but hoped it would hold off till later.
Great afternoon with the road drive in---stellar views as you ascend the rough road on the decomposed granite, of the Pinalenos, Galiuros and the valley. You drive in behind some hills right in front of the Pinnacle Ridge of the Santa Teresas, some amazing rugged rock forms. The road had some steep sections, if not 4wd you need a posi for 2wd and of course HC.
At a saddle incredible views into Buford Canyon which looked rugged and inviting. Again not that exciting looking on TOPO. The Devil's tank was a gem of large serene water in a bowl surrounded by cottonwoods and desert terrain of manzanita and brush. The reflections on it were wonderful in the evening and morning light. The road goes right to the tank and makes a loop. We car camped off that,had a wonderful campfire and the night was calm and great stargazing.
We hiked a little before sundown, on an old trail to a saddle overlooking limestone canyon (not good limestone), then to a hilltop for views in a rocky bowl, then hiked down in near darkness.
Next morning we decided to see how far we could get up to the Pinnacle ridge for an overlook using what looked to be a trail we had seen the evening before. Brush is tough for off trail here; there are also some open tiny park like areas on the granite. We found and followed at times what looked to be an old rancher trail, very old cairns in certain sections, lots of deer tracks. The old trail was overgrown in sections. One place we crawled on hands and knees about 50 feet through dense manzanita.
Onward and upward. We found what looked to be a forest service route that might have been marked for development. Some old spray paint on rocks and cut ( sawed) branches on the scrub oak. It was slow with the route finding. The weather was turning, we were gaining in altitude and could see clouds coming in, the Pinalenos' socked in and some virga falling to the west of us.
The route became steep and difficult again. I asked Brian if we could turn around, we were short of the top by only about 200 yards but it looked to be a tough bushwack and I was concerned with the weather. He agreed. We came down fast and altered our route some, cliffed out once, dived through a little rock alcove, then traversed down to a gully. Most of the small washes had some flowing water from snowmelt.
The wind had been cold and strong up top, lower down the weather seemed to stabelize. We decided to explore some in Buford Canyon. We found some small waterfalls and beautiful rocks in the canyon bottom, the walls got taller but not really narrow. It started raining but we were somewhat commited. We were down most of the way to our turnaround point and were climbing a side canyon out when it really cut loose. Ice pellets, high wind and then heavy wet snow. We both got wet and cold before we could get rain gear on. We were traversing on rotton rock walls in a near white out, and I had no gloves and my hands felt like red claws. We finally were able to get to good ground and cut a corner to get to the road and then back to the car. We deployed our umbrellas for the final hike.
The Toyota awaited us in the growing white wonderland. We packed up and got out of there. Fortunately the road is pretty rocky and the light snow cover had good traction. I took a picture at the saddle, and we took a little video descending the ridgeback in the blowing snow.
We decided to drive out to the Aravaipa area and see what was doing. We ended up exploring some side roads, a hike to a pretty colored rock canyon, and trying to help a couple of guys stuck in Aravaipa creek in quicksand. Unable to pull their one ton truck out, gave the one guy a ride to his camp area to get more help. Hope they got out.
Decided to drive on home, slip and slide on the wet clay road into Willcox. Great trip, with some added excitement with the weather.