Three peaks and three springs. I expanded on my usual journey up to Wrightson and back via the Old Baldy Trail and made this a larger loop to check out some places I hadn't visited in many years. Since I was going to be up on the high ridges much of the day, I gambled on the weather, hoping it would be storm-free up there. I lucked out!
I started out by going up the Old Baldy Trail to Wrightson. One of the missions for the day was to honor a request by Angela (Tibber) to get a picture of her logbook entry from June 19th, when she made her first ascent. http://www.youtube.com/user/RWX316#p/a/u/0/uFTWJSpVg3U
So, as this was a Tibber inspired trip, it was not to be a day of racing up the trail. No it was to be a day of exploring and taking my time to savor this magnificent area. Tibber mode it was, and of course that meant there would be a lot of flower pixels!
On the way up I heard a trogon in the lower canyon, which was the first one I had heard on my hikes so far this summer in Madera Canyon. That is always a treat. The summer rains have been good to this mountain so far and the seasonal flowers are increasing. It has been interesting to watch the transition from the spring bloom.
After spending some time on the summit, it was back down to Baldy Saddle, where the change of routine ensued. I headed north on the Crest Trail, while listening to thunder from storms which were east of Sonoita. That's not too far away, so I was keeping a wary eye on the sky. I wanted to hit a few peaks along the Crest, but the weather was going to be the deciding factor. I made my way up to Mt. Ian, which is really just a bump off the trail, but it does have two things I really like: beautiful rocks and a killer view right down the spine of Elephant Head. Saw Sirena's entry from earlier in the summer (hi). She's right, it is a seldom visited peak. Next it was on up to Burnt Pine Saddle, while not letting my guard down with those building cumulus clouds. I hadn't been on the Crest Trail since the big fire of 2005, and was happy to see it was in good shape.
Burnt Pine Saddle is a really nice place along the Crest that gives you a view to the west, as most of it stays below the ridgeline and yields only views east, which are wonderful also. Another reason I like Burnt Pine Saddle is it gives you an option of getting off the ridge in a hurry if you need to, plus by bushwhacking down a ways you pick up the Four Springs Trail at Shovel Saddle. This means you can create a shorter loop hike instead of having to go all the way to Florida Saddle if you don't want to.
I now wanted to head up to my third peak of the day, 88 Mac, which is just above the saddle. There was a very large cloud building up between me and Hopkins that almost made me call it off. Unlike Ian, 88 Mac takes some time and the going is slow in spots. This was going to be a gamble, but I went for it. Once I made the peak, I signed in, took a few pictures, then got the heck out of there. Back at Pine Saddle I knew I had it made! Bushwhacked down to Four Springs Trail and started my trip back to the car. By this time new storms were cranking out some lightning and rain, both back where I had been and in lower Madera Canyon.
Making my way down the Four Springs Trail to Kent Spring was just perfect, as I picked up some cool breezes from the nearby storms. This was most welcome after a long day on the trail! The old jeep road going down from Kent Spring is very steep, so I had to be extra careful in this section. When I got to Sylvester Spring, a light rain began falling as I filled my water bottle with fresh mountain water to enjoy on the home stretch. The stream in this section was running strong, and it was great being serenaded by the water and the sound of thunder!
As I started up the old jeep track that gets you to the pipeline connector route to the Super Trail, a couple of close cloud to ground lightning bolts let me know that there was still a little danger present, even though I was close to the finish.
Okay, made it over the high point (phew) alive and now it was on to the finish line via the Super Trail. The lightning abated and the heavier rain stayed away. Almost back to the parking lot, a trogon flushed out of a tree as I walked past. I tried to get a decent picture, but they don't let you get too close. I'll post the blurry one anyway. Perhaps it was the same fellow I heard in the morning? This just put an exclamation point on what turned out to be a fantastic day.