A day of rain followed by a day of sunshine. Been a relatively wet winter for southern AZ but as I have said many times, it rains and then it has the decency to get out and not linger for multiple days. Two of us depart the Pima Canyon trailhead at 9am. Kind of a late start for the off trail hike to Bighorn Mountain. I give us to 12:30 to reach the peak and if not there, turn around, no exception. The descents can be tricky and take more time than the ascents.
While it is officially winter, really more like fall as leaves are turning and dropping too. At mile 2.1, we exit the trail, push through some dense brush and.....
…...stumble upon bones left behind by a mountain lion or maybe a bobcat or even a rare jaguar.
Rather than off trail ravine hiking with all the associated nastiness, this hike is via a ridge so while there is some nastiness, it isn't bad at all. We rise higher and the trees with fall like colors are now far below.
The route is rather obvious. There are 2-3 knolls that are reached, each revealing another long slope that must be navigated.
How about that!? Table mountain comes into view and I begin to doubt my route finding. Ahead, nothing resembles a peak for Bighorn. Have I strayed to far toward Table? I continue to chart a course following the ridge while meantime.....
….hiking buddy Amy appears to be enjoying herself. I inquire as to her status and am always greeted with enthusiasm. No whining with this able hiker even though it is her first off trail/bushwhacking experience.
Topping out at another knoll, I see what I believe to be the ridgeline between Table and Bighorn!!! We have got this. Alas, looking at the time, I concur there is no way we will make it to the ridge and then make the left turn up to the peak. Amy's knee has begun to ping too so we decide to turn back although.....
….we were so close and I was relieved I did have us on track. I promise myself I will be back in a few days. Lambing season begins on the first so have to do it before Wednesday. Otherwise, off trail hiking is not allowed until April and by then, the rattlesnakes will be out.
While there are some patches of nastiness, it's easy to navigate around these things. Meantime.....
….my partner utilizes her downhill skiing skills to make quick work of the descent. It is kind of rugged with lots of boulders, all of which at least partially obscured by the grass. Towards the bottom.....
….we hit some broad slickrock areas and in the distance I can see the Cleaver, last week's summit adventure. I'll be back and this time, there will be snow up there and perhaps I'll see lion tracks. I've been loaned a hand gun, given expert training and will have that along for my solo effort (I've owned a gun before so am no rookie). Several times in the last few years, I've gone on solo hikes and become uneasy about something I can not describe and end of turning around.