Decided to do a Generic Hike on this, as I couldn't find any Triplogs that took off from the National TH on the NW End. Parked on what would be Estrella Road, but it's not paved here and I believe this part is a dead end at some point. It's just an access for the houses built here. Very limited parking, you basically just have to find a wide point on a fairly narrow road.
I worked a half a day today, so didn't get started up the trail until 1:30. The Trail climbs to a small saddle, turns west and follows a hill around. Then I followed the trail down to the San Juan Overlook, which I don't believe is accessible by car anymore. The trail split here with Alta heading up the mountain. I took National around the west end. Fairly level trail but with lots of loose rock, which turned out to be the norm for most of this hike. Got to the National/Bajada Junction and took Bajada going east. The trail was level for a little ways and then began a small, gradual climb. Further east on the trail, it starts going up and down alot through drainages and washes. Got to the Bajada/Alta Junction at San Juan Road and started the climb up the switchbacks on Alta.
Contemplated not doing the Alta Trail as I was unsure about finishing it with daylight to spare, but I'm stubborn about finishing what I start out to do, so up I went....
Made it to the top side and followed it back to the West. There would have been really nice views here, but the air was filthy throughout the valley, so I didn't even bother with pictures here. The Alta Trail is a lot longer than what it looks like from the San Juan Overlook and about 1/3 of the way down, I realized that the "uphill" wasn't over...
It's almost like the Trail Builders played a dirty trick on you and just teased you into thinking it was all downhill going west.
Now the light is starting to fade and my suspicions that I'm not going to finish this in daylight are rapidly coming true.
I get past the nice, 2nd uphill section and start down again. The Alta Trail is pretty narrow in spots and there was a hint of exposure, but I made good time until it got completely dark. Just about the time I hit complete darkness, I came upon a pretty steep section that was nothing but slanted rock. This time, I was ready for it. I had a light....
Time to get it out and start negotiating the downhill on a trail that I had never been on before, I figure I have a little over a mile left to go.
Several spots were steep and rocky requiring careful footing even in daylight, so it really slowed me down now. There is one spot on the Trail where it looks like there has been a small rockslide, there were small and medium rocks and a few boulders piled on the trail. It was a very narrow slide, so it was negotiable without any trouble, I just had to pick my way through it. Finally made it back down to the Overlook and then back down to the TH and my car.
I was really in a hurry at this point because I was running late for a date to go harass some Photographers I know, who were hobnobbing it in Scottsdale, showing off their work. Got back so late that I missed one of them, but the other one, along with a couple of other HAZers that I know, was there, and later they actually convinced me that this Beer joint they were going to around the corner from my house, would have a Beer that I would like, and as it turns out, they were right.
First Beer I can honestly say I really enjoyed. Perfect way to end the day. Thanks Guys!