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mini location map2017-02-12
14 by photographer avatarAZHiker456
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Gardner Canyon #143Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Feb 12 2017
Hiking10.56 Miles 3,708 AEG
Hiking10.56 Miles   4 Hrs      2.71 mph
3,708 ft AEG      6 Mns Break
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I’d routed up about 5-6 summits on the N/NE side of the Santa Ritas but, [after doing 13 miles on the treadmill the previous day… ](*,) ], my patience was paper thin and the off-trail nature of those summits wasn’t gonna cut it in terms the pace I needed to go & AEG I needed to log to let out the piss and vinegar. Thus, on a whim, I decided to head for the Gardner Canyon TH with the *intent of doing Mt. Wrightson, [*weather permitting… I’d gotten a very late start and was fully aware before committing to the hike that I’d have had only about 4 hours before the T-storms were supposed to hit the area].

I’d never been to the Gardner Canyon TH but have heard from a few folks who have that the road in can get pretty shitty, [but that a Forester ‘should be able to make it without hitting bottom… although in order to do so, I might need to get out in a few places and really scan terrain.’]. I also heard there were several creek crossings en route to the TH, [and that the bad parts of the road were primarily where it crosses the creeks].

All I can say is, the way in that I took was an absolute breeze. While a car / low clearance vehicle certainly isn’t going to make it, [thanks to the creek crossings], there were only 2 creek crossings as opposed to the several I was anticipating. While they definitely comprised the ‘worst’ parts of the road, [which was otherwise very, very good], they were by no means difficult… and they can’t hold a candle to the ruggedness of even the easy creek crossings that are required to get to the Bassett Peak TH…!].

By far the best part of the hike was in the very beginning where the trail crosses several creeks. The water was gushing, [which I’m guessing was the result of snow melt since it had been an unseasonably warm for several days prior to my hike]. In addition to the many beautiful mini-waterfalls / pools, there was also one place where the water had a beautiful, blue-green color [the ‘Havasupai blue’]. [ photo ]

After the waterfalls in the beginning, I focused on pushing the pace a little… while the T-storms were not supposed to hit for another 4 hours or so, the surrounding skies did NOT look good, and I was hoping to go fast enough and/or get enough AEG under my belt to work out the piss ‘n’ vinegar. Despite many stops in the beginning (to enjoy the waterfalls/pools, make a layer adjustment, then a ‘fluid adjustment’, then get around some deadfall, and finally take off a shoe in order to remove a sharp thorn…), I still managed to hold a respectable pace of 3+ miles per hour for the first 3 miles which took just under 57 minutes… however, shortly after that, what originally started as some fun log-hopping turned into an extremely annoying game of going under/over/around large trees that had fallen across the trail.

No sooner did the section with all of the downed trees let up when the trail must have changed direction, [likely to the North face], because the ‘footing’ almost instantly went from dirt/earthy ground to feet of snow. It literally came up to just above my knees in the places where I broke through, [which were surprisingly/luckily were very few]. After lifting my leg up in such places, I was unable to see the ground where I had sunk in, and I wasn’t in the mood to ‘dig’ for it.

As I approached Baldy Saddle, the wind had really started to pick up, and the storm clouds were closing in fast. I passed a trail sign indicating that it was less than 1 mile to Baldy Saddle, [I can’t remember the exact distance since I didn’t take a photo]. From the saddle, reaching the summit would take another 20-30 minutes in GOOD conditions]; and from what I could see of the trail leading up to the saddle, most of it was buried in 2+ feet of snow, which would easily double and possibly triple the time it would take me just to get to the saddle, relative to good conditions. Thus, with bad weather fast approaching, I decided to play it safe and turn back.

After returning to my vehicle, I was planning to do 1-2 quick summits in the area; and my planned parking spots even panned out beautifully. However, [still full of piss and vinegar – and with very dark clouds overhead], I bounded out of my vehicle and headed for the first peak, [or so I thought], which should have been about 1 mile, one-way. However, [after my GPS apps announced my 1 mile split], I hadn’t even started my ascent, and when I consulted with Route Scout to see what the hell was going on, it now informed me that the summit was 2 miles away. Apparently I’d headed 180 degrees in the opposite direction. :doh: With storms still approaching, [and by now daylight starting to run out], I decided to call it a day.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Gardner Canyon - Santa Ritas Heavy flow Heavy flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Middle Cave Creek - Santa Ritas Heavy flow Heavy flow
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