To my southeast lie the Huachuca Mountains, about a 2 hour drive from Oro Valley. The mountains tower over the city of Sierra Vista as I drive through, on my way to the Nature Conservancy Preserve which lies just outside the 1.75 million acre Coronado Wilderness of which the mountain range and the Miller Peak Wilderness is part.
Our group has arrived for an awesome hike of 11.2 miles, 3300' of climbing but more importantly, the fall colors. We were not disappointed as the changing leaves were at peak. We began our hike at Ramsey Canyon trail head. I had underdressed and shivering even though the temperature at our elevation of 5500' was 54 degrees. My condition improved dramatically as we began our hike with a decent climb.
The network of trails are well signed and easy to follow as we frequently pass small pools of water fed by, yes, a babbling brook. Today's hike was led by....
....Bill Bens who has an encyclopedic knowledge of all trails throughout southern Arizona. OK, I happened to take this image the solitary moment he was slightly, directionally confused. He quickly recovered and we continued our upward trek.
After crossing a stream, the climbing began in earnest as we passed densely forested slopes on either side but at one point we arrived at an overlook and got a great look into Ramsey Canyon.
This section of our climb was 3.5 miles having an average grade of 12.5%. Seemed steeper to me but eventually a saddle came into view and we reached.....
....the Huachuca Crest Trail. I expected a spectacular view but not yet as we took a break having gained about 3000' in 5 miles. At an elevation of over 8000'....I was freezing in my long sleeve and perspiration dampened, shirt. Glad I thought to bring another shirt so not all my clothing choices were stupid ones. That helped but I was glad when Bill made the "2 minute" announcement and then....
....off we went. Big thanks to Chris and I think Sid and perhaps one other who offered me excess clothing but I was in the mood for self flagellation, lol. I expected our pace would remedy things anyway and was correct. We followed the crest trail for about 2 miles and the views were....
One had to pay some attention to the trail as a fall to the left side of the trail would only be broken by a tree trunk. Rather steep in there.
We passed a group of I think Agave in a sort of rock garden. We descended to Bear Saddle,.....
...where we caught a final view of the amazing vistas that included portions of Mexico. Thus began a long and steep descent.
Regaining Ramsey Canyon where relief of the knee buckling descent portion of the trail ended, we saw the largest Alligator Juniper I have seen. Hiking buddy Lorna poses to give size perspective.
I'm unsure of the history of this structure but a sizable fireplace remains which I think is still put to good use on some evenings. Regaining the parking lot, I was eager to get going so hustled up driving companion Kathy and began the long drive back home.