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Vault Mine - Josephine Saddle Loop
15 Photosets

mini location map2008-08-10
12 by photographer avatarPhilipMueller
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Vault Mine - Josephine Saddle LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 10 2008
Hiking6.10 Miles 1,880 AEG
Hiking6.10 Miles   3 Hrs      2.03 mph
1,880 ft AEG
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Rode my bike down to the Santa Ritas this morning for this great little hike. There was another vehicle going 100+ mph on the way down there from the Ol' Pueblo. Don't ask me how I know that; I mayhave gotten a little less than my usual 50 mpg, though. Speaking of mpg, in case your car happens to be on "E" for empty next time you are leaving the top parking lot of Madera Canyon, please note that I'd bet the ranch you could coast all the way down the 10+ miles to the stop sign at Continental Road. I seem to recall 2 clowns that did just that last weekend. Anyhoo, as I rode toward Canyon, I could finally see for the first time why Elephant Head is called what it is with the head and the line of hills that look like its trunk. I suppose I've always been more focused on peering into the canyon, and looking up at Hopkins, and "The Eye"/Wrightson (for all you Lord of the Rings fans) than looking at Elephant Head. Glad I finally met the Oliphaunt (again, for you Lord fans. Not sure why I keep referencing Lord since I've actually been subjugated by Harry Potter this week. Alright, I confess, I've grown from tolerating Harry to actually enjoying those movies, too). Upon entering the canyon, a couple of deer pranced across the road in front of me--welcome to paradise.
As I started the hike, "The Eye" was completely in the clouds. Somebody up there hoping for those awesome views must have wanted his money back. Actually, I thought it would be pretty cool to be up there in the clouds. Alas, Vault Mine-Josephine Saddle Loop was my hike. Vault Mine wastes no time in shooting you up, up, and away. There is a stretch where you go up about 1400 feet in about .6 miles. It is a relatively "well-kempt" trail, though, with nice cover so while it shoots you up, its nothing like Finger Rock Trail in the Catalinas for example. I found it to be exactly what I was looking for as a part of this hike--a heart pumping, yet short and lovely trail with excellent views here and there and a place to get a read on my level of physical fitness (still needs work). Once you reach the intersection where you can either continue on toward Agua Caliente Canyon or head up the Josephine Saddle, all the tough stuff is pretty much behind you. I liked the rockfalls here and there that opened up the forest to views of the canyon, the crest, and the peaks. Had half a sandwich at one and just enjoyed the view with the birds singing, the bugs buzzing, and the breeze playing the leaves. Good stuff. Passing through mini-meadows and carpets of ferns, under mighty oaks and pines and even a few Aspens was excellent. Got off the trail for a moment to look up at Hopkins. I drove up there once as far as I could go and walked the rest of the way. If memory serves me correctly, they had a photo-map up there that labeled various mountain ranges. Several people were at Josephine Saddle when I got there--coming and going in various directions. Met a guy named Randy--talked bears--and a girl named Jennifer and her cute dog Lucy--talked shop (my wife and I own a dog daycare). Pressed for time, I took Old Baldy down rather than Super. I ran for a while...until I did a face plant. Did a fast walk after that.
Excellent loop. My favorite part was probably from the intersection previously mentioned to Josephine Saddle--easygoing, quiet, peaceful. Didn't see any Hobbits though.
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