Sarae and I went over the mountain to see what we could see... and guess what, the other side of the mountain was all that we could see!
But it's so pretty!
After kicking around many more ambitious plans, we settled on this hike which neither of us had done, and both of us wanted to gather more beta on in terms of connecting trails. I was still fighting headaches, and I had the little dog along, so it seemed like a perfect match.
It was a hot day, even on the mountain, and there was a forecast for afternoon rains. We started from the Butterfly trailhead on Mt. Bigelow, from the radio tower parking area. Once we found where the trail left the maintenance road (it's not signed - so you've got to look), we were on our way, switching back down the slope of Bigelow. This part of the trail is unspectacular, but pretty enough and very quiet. The first saddle along the ridge was the junction with the route out to Davis Spring... This saddle was a bit torched and over used, but open and ferny. We headed on toward Incinerator Peak, heading up and down smaller points for another half mile or so. The burn scars in this area are from both the Bullock Fire and the Aspen Fire, and there's a lot of new growth coming back in the form of thorny, stickery and generally pokey shrubs right at hiker level. Luckily, the trail is well used enough to keep it from being a serious navigation problem. It was just hard to keep track of the pooches! From time to time, the views opened up and were wide open to the east, south and north. There were combos of peaks that I'd not seen together before, and it was lots of fun!
Second saddle was the junction with the Incinerator Ridge trail and the Knagge Tr. Sarae and I both want to come back when we've got more mojo and attack the Knagge/Davis Loop. Looks like a good hike with amazing views.
I wasn't timing our trip, so I don't know how long it took us to get to Incinerator Peak. It's not a hard hike, though, and there's some fun but very low-key scrambling up near the peak itself. From the top the views are just incredible, as Sarae already described. We took a few photos, then walked back toward Bigelow. During the whole hike, we were watching storm clouds forming over each of the major ranges around Tucson - including ours. By the time we made it back to the parking area, it was looking decidedly stormy over Lemmon, though Bigelow was still pretty clear.
We drove down the Mt. and got some awesome Yucatan Yum pizza at Eclectic...and I still had time for laundry and housework before my family arrived the next morning. Not a bad way to spend the first part of a lovely weekend!