On a somewhat hazy, cool-ish mid morning, with the Alt Hiking Meetup, I traversed this teddy bear cholla ridden trail. The trailhead is on the eastern end of the main Gates Pass parking lot. Our fearless leader previously posted a GPS route here: http://hikearizona.com/map.php?GPS=11433
The trail is fairly easy to follow for the first mile, though felt narrow. Every time I hike in the Tucson Mountains, I remark on how pretty it is. I don't know why I always forget it, but in spring time in particular, it's just lovely. On this day we were greeted with lots of little wildflowers and, as noted above, those pesky teddy bear chollas. I think most of us probably experienced hitchkikers along the way - make sure you have tweezers and/or a comb with you
. I had one attached to my hand for a bit and it wasn't so fun.
Moving at a quick pace with loose footing and menacing cacti, it was a little difficult to attend much to the scenery. As we got higher up and made short stops, though, the views were hard to miss. The trail was at times hard to follow as it's quite rocky, but cairns (if you can find them) do mark off a path and, since the destination is highly visible, it's relatively easy to forge your own way.
I'm not terribly sure footed (I have a penchant for stepping directly on rocks that are begging to roll), especially when it comes to heights. I slipped more than a few times, but only felt a little leery on the way there as you cross a short, somewhat narrow saddle (not sure it's technically a saddle). If you have poles, it wouldn't hurt to bring them
It's a short hike, but that last bit takes some time because of the (loose) rocky, severe grade. The views are well worth the efforts and cacti spines, though. I only rued that we hadn't gotten an earlier start and it hadn't been quite so hazy that day. Ah, the sorrows of a very amateur, hobby photographer.