What?!?!? I was not glued to the tv for the 10:00am start of the MI v OSU game? I was obviously torn but the temp was forecast to be 76, I didn't want to possibly sit through the agony of a loss (even though I thought they'd win in a close one) and I hate an inactive day so...a short drive on Skyline, left on Avernon and bingo. I am at the parking lot looking at today's destination, not Finger Rock which can only be reached via a rope but Finger Rock Guard, 4 miles distant on the right.
A rough idea of the route, hiking steeply up while staying above a canyon kept to the left, then down into the canyon and up to a saddle, hang a left and take a circuitous route through spires to the top of the Guard. I'll gain 3300' while covering 4 miles. It seems like the elevation gain is greater than that.
For your reference. I've not been to Prominent Point. Entirely off trail but probably will give that a go. I read a description that said toward the top of that the area is populated by an abundance of rattlers. Probably all in hibernation now.
The trail follows, sometimes closely, to the rim of the canyon. While the trail is called "Finger Rock Trail" it goes to Kimball Mountain instead. Every time I have hiked this, I run into people who tell me they are going to Finger Rock but are oblivious that at a broad expanse of slick rock, you leave FR trail for a spur trail that leads to FR. Today was no different. I took a break at the head of the spur trail and .....
...how about that, another Tarantula, my 2nd sighting this week. A couple came along and said they had seen another farther down the FR trail. Oh, I also had a snake slither in front of me but it was harmless.
The aforementioned spur trail plunges into the canyon and then climbs steeply up the other side toward the above saddle.
Reaching the saddle, great views northwest with Table Mountain on the left. It was a cloudy day so views were muted.
Oh boy, time to resume the climb. Sometimes a slight trail, sometimes not but watching for the small rock piles to indicate the way. Geesh, a couple of steps and there was.....
....another Tarantula! Must be the time they are moving south for the winter, from one side of the trail to the other? I always watch where I put my hands when climbing but became especially vigilant.
Kind of a neat area at the base of a spire.
There in the middle is Finger Rock and to the left, a 15' wall that must be climbed to go forward to the Guard. Lots of people turn around here but so worth making the climb. I can't make a step to a foot hold so roll a small boulder to give me a 1' advantage.
Eventually, I come to another wall and climb it too. Very careful as a fall would be bad.
I scramble higher and there are unreachable spires to the east.
Throughout, my wonderful wife had been texting me game updates. I sat to enjoy a snack and turned on the game, carried by a Tucson radio station. Not good so I turned it off.
As you sit on top of the Guard, you stare directly across at Finger Rock but it blends in so well with its surroundings, it is difficult to make out the outline of it.
Actually, I navigated my way to the wrong spire and could see a pile of rocks indicating the summit register on the adjoining spire. Oh well. I made my way down the steep slope to the canyon bottom when the Buckeyes scored to tie the game and send into OT. I climbed the other side to reach FR trail and headed down while listening to the ESPN broadcast. When Curtis Samuel scored for the win, I shrieked, "YES!!!! A few hours later, I found the edited replay and watched the game, of course. Finished with 8 miles and 3800' of climbing.
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.