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Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ
mini location map2019-11-17
2 by photographer avatarMountain_Rat
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Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ 
Gardner n Cave Canyons, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 17 2019
Mountain_Rat
Hiking15.00 Miles 4,700 AEG
Hiking15.00 Miles   8 Hrs   16 Mns   2.10 mph
4,700 ft AEG   1 Hour   7 Mns Break12 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
A few weeks back I tossed the idea to Linda to do this little loop, which would knock a few trails and peaks off of both of our lists and she liked the idea, so we set it up. I've wanted to get over to this side of the Santa Ritas for quite a long while, but even for a Tucsonan, it's a drive, so I really was happy that Linda was willing to make the trip down.

We got an early start, but ended up stuck behind a Wide Load on the Sonoita Hwy, so that kinda washed out, but we ended up starting about 07:45.

We headed up the Gardner trail, getting the sunny section out of the way early, so that Linda didn't have to use the 'H' word. This seems to have been a good choice, as we made good time and were topping out at Wrightson before we knew it (or at least it seemed like it). From there, we could see the rest of our elevation gain just across Baldy Saddle, and were not intimidated by it in the least, so we headed off to confront it. The trip across the Crest was beautiful and I spent some time to really orient myself as opposed to just charging through. I must say, there's a lot to take in. We got off track a little when trying to tag Mt Ian (or so we think), but eventually got our act together and headed on. Next stop, Florida Peak, this time with no trouble, except for the ladybug infestation during our break at the summit. From here it would all be downhill, and that's obviously what the bear thought too. Oh, did I mention that we saw a bear on the Sawmill Trail? Well we did. While Linda may have nailed a pic of it, mine turned out looking like the Loch Ness Monster dancing with Bigfoot. Moving along, we finished out the best section of the hike heading down the Cave Canyon. This section is as nicely groomed as any in southern AZ, easy to follow and with little dead fall (we had expected much worse). The canopy has a nice balance of tree to sky, while having a very open feel to it. The canyon bottom is wide compared to most canyon trails I'm used to. It had sort of a meadowy effect, and actually offered a number of level camp spots and a meandering stream bed. As you might expect, the nicest section came to an end too quickly. Really, the whole trip ended too quickly. The drive considered, this was a great hike with diverse terrain, and Linda is a blast to hike with, so it could have gone on longer as far as I'm concerned (but I didn't have to drive back to Phoenix).

Another great loop, over a few new trails = another great day outside.

Thanks for driving down Linda!
Fauna
Fauna
Black Bear
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Matt
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