[This triplog really should be under a heading like "Finger Rock Guard," but I didn't see any such category. So, since I found my way up this beautiful rock pile thanks to an earlier writeup under "Finger Rock Summit," that's where I'm putting this one. Round-trip 8 miles, one-way up 3-1/2 hours, 3400' elevation gain (plus 200' in and out of the canyon).]
A cloudy day, some wind, chance of rain. Maybe not the best day to hike to the Finger Rock Guard. But I just put one foot in front of the other and was soon 3 miles up the Finger Rock trail, a good 2000 feet gain above the trailhead. I could see Finger Rock for most of the way, though it eventually disappeared behind the Guard, its blocky tower of a neighbor to the right (east).
About 5 minutes after I lost sight of Finger Rock, the trail flattened out and began its sharp turn to the right. At this point it was easy to spot the modest track that heads to the left and down into the canyon. From here I could see this track as it worked its way up out of the other side of the canyon.
This rough path loses 200 feet to the canyon bottom before gaining 1000 feet to the broad saddle to the right of the Guard. Just past the firepit at the saddle, one little trail goes right (to Finger Rock, I believe), while the left-hand route sends you up 500 feet of lovely scrambling to the summit of the Guard. Many thanks to the people who pioneered this nicely cairned route through these colorful rock faces and spires. There were only two spots where a conservative sort like myself might have preferred less exposure.
The summit was cloudy, windy and cold, even with my gloves, wool cap and fleece shirt. I wanted to stretch out on the gracious rock slabs at the summit for lunch and a nap, but instead I headed down. A good bit of artfully applied buttage got me back down to the saddle.
[PS: Now after hiking Wasson, Pusch, Picacho, Safford and the Guard on my November visit here from the Seattle area, I'm ready for Window Peak, the Thimble and Ragged Top. If only I had a partner . . . . . ]