Having climbed to the summit of Sombrero Peak many times, I decided to find a route to it's neighbor, Panther Peak. Not a lot of hike reports can be found on the internet but one had a gpx file of the mostly off trail route and with my Garmin trex-20 in hand, I was good to go.
There are a couple of ways to access the route but I chose to start from a turn-out off Picture Rocks Road where Panther Wash Trail crosses. Almost immediately, the trail drops into a wide, sandy wash, which is followed for 1.5 miles. I walked past the point at which I should have gone off trail but my new, trusty Garmin showed me I was off route so I turned around and found a faint trail headed up and out of the wash.
Classic Sonoran landscape. Not overgrown and that made for easy hiking. The route, while officially off trail, enough people have walked it that there is a worn path that is fairly easy to follow.
The route enters a drainage/ravine and soon I rise out of the valley with good views. However, the ravine closes in around me and.....
....becomes very boulder but the cairns are plentiful and show the way (if you look closely, you can see at least one cairn/pile of rocks center-right). The climbing is steep but not too challenging.
Close to a saddle, I have risen high enough that many peaks populate the horizon.
At the saddle, looking to the east, I can see Sombrero Peak as I follow cairns and the faint trail to the summit.
As always, the views are good, I find and sign the trail registry and then head back down. I have gained only about 1200' so not a difficult hike. Just good to knock out a peak. As I had the advantage of height, I could see that the route went away from the trail head and if I went really off trail, I could strike out for the sandy wash and cut the trip a little short. I entered a narrow wash and arrived at a narrow, horizontal slit in a wall where a lot of cholla clusters had been pulled together. There were no cholla cactus nearby so I thought that odd as I stepped up to begin the climb out of the wash, my foot slipped and......
...dang it!!!!! I brought my hand to the ground to catch my fall and picked up several partial clusters in my hand. Fortunately, I always carry a pair of tweezers and once I reached the Panther Wash Trail, I would stop every 10 minutes, yank a piece from my palm and by the time I reached my car, they were all removed. Well, this being Friday, I was jacked for the Buckeye game and for an epic Sunday hike. More to come.
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.