After researching this hike, especially the elevation and especially after struggling up Mt Lemmon, I was very nervous plus I was thinking about the first 2.3 miles with the backpack that would have to include 5 liters of water. Wendy assured me I could do this so I headed down to Tucson for our Friday El Charro ritual of carne seca and a Prickly Pear Margarita. We took home some triple leche cake to have later; big time yummy on that!
The next morning we met the others at the TH and with much trepidation I started the climb with the heaviest pack I've ever carried. I was relieved that after about 1/2 mile that I felt I had my legs (when I did that mtn going up to Romero Pools my legs felt quite weak) and the trail itself is quite nice as compared to the other Catalina trails I had previously climbed.
I found myself talking quite a bit the last mile; somehow it made the hike easier. I told Wendy she didn't have to talk back.
I also took a banana for this part of the hike and it sure seemed to help restore energy. You will be happy to know I only took 10 pictures
for 2.3 miles (a little over an hour & 40 minutes). I am sure that is a record for me.
We set up camp. I had to wrestle with Big Agnes but eventually I got it all figured out and left the big pack in the tent. Now for Part II of this segmented day. Off we went to continue our ultimate conquest of the day: Mt Wrightson. On Baldy Trail it was only a couple miles and according to Scout, 1363 feet to the Saddle. As Wendy so eloquently described
Angela and I took our time, snapping lots of photos, playing with cheeky squirrels, listening to the birds and oohing-and-awhhing at the incredible scenery. Although the hills are recovering from the fires, it's still quite barren and offers amazing views to the west and the north. When we got to Bellows Spring, we found crystal clear water gushing over the lip of the cement tank. The locust bushes were so thick near the spring that it was almost like walking through a garden bower. Birds were singing, butterflies fitting by - textbook spring stuff.
The only thing I can add is that there was part of the mountainside that was covered by A LOT of beautiful ferns. They were just incredible in their mass.
As for getting to the Saddle, you can't see your destination until you're there. Sometimes I think that's a good thing. Fortunately for me this day, a lot of our destinations just suddenly appeared; altho now that I think about it, that really happens more often than not. The views from Baldy Saddle were simply amazing
. You just don't realize how many mountain ranges there are down here and with the fires cleaning off the trees, your vista is even more expansive. We had a quick lunch at Baldy Saddle and then finally headed to the highlight of this Sky Island. It was a great climb up to Wrightson as at each switchback there was something new to see. I told folks when I let them pass; "I'm in tibbermode
it's better for you to get ahead". It is a relatively easy climb up to Wrightson and before you know it, your eyes get wide and your heart beats even faster as you try to take in the 360 views.
"It was easier than I thot".
Once getting back down the mountain we took the Super Trail back to our campsite at Josephine Saddle. This part of the hike takes you through some incredible areas including one where the floor was covered in ferns and the tuxedo-dressed trees stood tall above with a crisp blue sky behind. I could have stayed here awhile but we pressed on. As you come around the west side the mountainside below Wrightson is covered in scrub oak and has the remnants of medium size bare trees sticking above. You also get to see the trail you would be taking around Wrightson Mountain. It was a wonderful hike that took you through all sorts of terrain. It got a bit toasty as we came around the west side and headed west but it was quite tolerable. The scree chute was totally cool as you get to walk right through the middle of it and look up at Wrightson staring you down.
We had a wonderful camp, Wendy made salmon patties with potatoes. Yummy! The sleeping temp was just right for me though sleeping was not something I got to do a lot of. I heard what I thought were hoofed animals going across the trail but one of the other campers said it was a rock fall. That made much more sense but it still got my heart racing.
The hike down the Super Trail is quite nice too though it did get warm toward the end. We were down the 4 miles in 2 hours. Once again I didn't get as many photos... you know how it is when it's horses back to the barn mode. As you get nearer the TH you do get to see and hear a creek running plus you get to cross it (it was dry). I thot that was a fitting end to an absolutely FAB backpack/hiking trip in the Santa Ritas. It was also great to hike with some familiar folks and some new faces too.
(after getting my camera back from United Camera to replace my scratched lens (covered under warranty), the company had cleaned the camera but had also put all the settings back to the default including the movie mode so it shot in wide-screen. I fixed that via my Premier Elements program but I think it definitely effected the quality.)
Thanks to Randy! this task was completed 8-10-10 (see last pic in photoset) If you summit Wrightson, could you take a picture of my entry for June 19th, 2010. I think it says "tibber" and "Hi Dad" and something about Wendy.