This is one of those hikes where the distance won't impress but the hike has everything else. Route finding challenges, exposure, steep climbs, awesome views of the region's mountains, etc... The route takes one clockwise up and around Bushmaster Peak and its adjoining ridgeline. I talked a couple of hiking friends into joining me so we park at the scenic view parking area off Gates Pass Road.
We immediately begin climbing. Thousands of people have parked and scrambled around on the slope so there is no trail, I just pick a ridge and we pick our way around thorny plants. Occasionally, you must pause and look at the magnificent surroundings.
Upon reaching the ridge, I find a faint trail. Note the Jumping Cholla on the left. The area has hundreds of these plants and on this kind of windy day, I am thankful the wind can not pry the cholla segments and send them flying. That threat would eliminate hiking on a windy day. Note the sun light against the Saguaros.
The trail briefly follows the ridge before turning up again. In the distance, Tucson Studio.
Higher now, we get a good view of the valley and Gates Pass Road.
The route gets a little hairy as we ascend the slope on the left which is covered with pea gravel and makes footing difficult. Oh and the trail borders the cliff so we are very careful.
My fellow hikers ascend the steep section and are glad when that is over.
We circle around the ridge line, make a sharp right and head toward a narrow band of rocks where we find.....
….someone recently placed a summit registry. Oh and note the hiking poles. At least one is a very good idea on this hike.
The route continues as we go up and over many times this ridge.
It's kind of dangerous as falling would be a bad idea.
We drop down and then ascend again. The route is not always obvious and sometimes counterintuitive. I'm glad I have done this hike a couple of times and even with that, I'm sometimes briefly stumped. Of course, can't allow the others to see the confusion as that only sows fear and undermining confidence in me:)
Although an idiot painted an arrow on a rock, indicating to exit the ridge to the right, that way doesn't look doable. Maybe it is but it appears to be too steep and too exposed. Instead, I exit the ridge to the left and head toward a saddle shown above. Actually, I exited a bit too early and it was all bushwhacking down this.....
….steep slope. Had I followed the ridge a little farther, the way down would still be steep but there would have been some cairns to follow. Either way, the saddle is the destination where....
…..next we descend the above ravine and head towards the road where we'll walk to our cars. This ravine was.....
….rough. I do not remember it being such a difficult bushwhack and was glad when we got through the worst of it because I could sense some dissension in the ranks. There was no foot trail but I managed to find a game trail now and then so if it is good enough for the Javelinas, it's good enough for us. Finished with 3.6 miles and 1400' of climbing.