At the western end of the Santa Rita mountain range lies an odd rock formation called, "Elephant Head". Use your imagination...you can see it can't you? It is south of Tucson, opposite Green Valley, AZ. I have been there once on a group hike 3 years ago but wanted to do it again.
Once you leave Mt Hopkins Road, there is a ungroomed forest service road. I had to pull off to the side after half a mile, rats. Too many boulders, ruts, etc... I was unsure how far I would have to walk on the road so grabbed a waist pack that holds a couple of bottles, shouldered a small day pack with several fluid bottles and trudged into the wilderness. I reached the above roundabout thingy and found a trail to the left after 2 miles of road walking.
I followed a trail for about a mile before it dead ended at a really crummy forest service road where I made a right. The crude road more or less ended at.....
....an abandoned mine that had ample warning that you should not explore. The road petered out but a trail remained and I continued to follow it as it climbed higher into....
....the mountains. Beautiful for sure. So far, Elephants Head had been hidden but eventually.....
....it sprang into view after rounding a curve. So close but one must leave the trail to drop 500' into the canyon shown above and then, oh boy, climb 600' to the saddle slightly right of center. So steep and the surface so crummy.
About 3/4 of the way up the other side I turned and enjoyed the view.
Reaching the aforementioned saddle, I turned left and headed up. Drives me crazy that images make it all look so benign and easy.
The way forward is confusing and many times I had to stop to calculate, "OK, which way now" as there is no trail at this point.
How about that. a shallow cave as I skirted it to the right and continued.....
.....on up, often via fairly steep slick rock that is fun to climb. There above is the summit.
I reached the top and looked back the way I had come. Sure hope I can navigate that back to the trail. It ain't as easy as it looks and I did get cliffed out a couple of times and had to back track but did get back down.
At the top, a circle of rocks with many elephants that people have left. Odd but odder yet, I never came across another hiker. Perfect weather, a weekend day and no one. Weird.
I ate an apple, drank lots of fluids and headed back down the slick rock and the saddle and then ugh, that freakin canyon.
At least he views are terrific.
I was relieved to reach the forest service road and to know I only had 2 miles to go. Finished with 10.5 and 3500' of climbing. I have watched the movie "Deliverance" too many times but out here in the middle of nowhere, a guy in a truck approaches. He has Maine license plates and stops alongside. Good guy and have a nice conversation. He is reconnoitering, looking for good hunting spots. Oh, by the way, I saw a car this week with plates from......Hawaii. How bout that? Haven't see that plate since I was on the island of Molokai, several years ago.
Mark is a long-time cyclist who enjoys poking fun at himself but most especially at his friends. No nicknames or comments are intended to offend, accept them in the humor they are intended.