Well, the plan went something like this: Go in through Cave Canyon, take the Crest Trail to Baldy, take Gardner back down to the general parking area and link back up with Cave. Only one problem...the Gardner Canyon trail is totally gone at the junction with Super and route finding is impossible; I say again - *impossible*. Now, this isn't one of those "I can't do it so surely no one else can" claims, no sir. The trail is flat-out gone. After spending almost an hour scrambling around in the canyon and scrub referencing the GPS, maps, false leads, tape in the trees, a cairn or two, and anything that looked like a trampled-down path we finally had to haul bacon to escape the oncoming storm above (That, and I fell into a sinkhole
). We managed to find the first 300 meters or so upon exit, but the rest of the upper stretch of Gardner has been lost to the washouts and mudslides that ensued after the fires wreaked havoc here.
But, never-mind that, let's talk about the Crest trail!! The Crest trail is a real gem and facilitates access to the single most beautiful little meadow in AZ in one of its saddles. The shame was the pace at which we were forced to run past this miraculous place on our unexpected return trip there. Cave Creek was full of amazingly clear water and the canyon was lush as could be. Despite the unexpected detour there is no way to cast a harsh eye upon that trip - it was truly worth every drop of blood and every bead of sweat!!
BTW - The sheer volume of wildflowers along the trails boggled the mind...