Dawn, Superior, AZ. With a forecast high of 79 and an average daytime high of about the same, I am perplexed that practically all the hikes and bike rides still are scheduled for sunrise departures. The upside and maybe part of the reason is the sunrises are spectacular. Across State Route 60 is the Superstition Wilderness but we are on the south side of the highway..
We rise through the foothills of Picketpost Mountain and are rewarded with stunning views of the "Supes".
Directly to the west, more good views but a bit subdued compared to what is north. Our group is comprised of....
young and old, men and women and a dog that acquitted itself well on what is a somewhat treacherous, steep and exposed trail. At the trailhead, we invited a woman from Switzerland, Anette, to join us since we had shared goals and with her came "Paux" her dog.
We got spread out a bit as you can see some of our group in the bottom left of the above image. The trail, which is kind of difficult to follow at times, crosses.....
....narrowly over significant drops. The pucker factor causes me to shift my center of gravity toward the mountain.
I was leading the way but missed a turn and rather than climb up a left chute, I found myself mucking around in a bush covered right chute. I decided to head north and try to regain the left chute. Turning, I was greeted to more fine views and eventually, stumbled on the correct route. Behind me, the group, led by Reed, an experienced Picketpost hiker, made the correct turn but another guy, Andy did not and he too wandered in the thicket before also escaping via the left chute.
The trail continues to climb and once at a ridge, climbs some more where eventually an opening in the rocks reveals the incredible scenery to the south.
A final slope to traverse and then.....
....I'm at the summit with the city of Superior in the distance. What a marvelous place to be at 8:40am on a Sunday morning. Winds are light and spirits are high as the others, sans Andy who is still fighting the bushes, arrive.
Way, way in the distance, about 70 miles south, is Mount Lemmon and the surrounding mountains. We gathered our stuff and began the trek down the mountain. We passed Andy, who had extracted himself from the canyon and was completing his journey to the peak. In places, the trail is very sketchy. Difficult to follow and footing unsure. I heard a yell above me and looking up.....
....Anette had slid into a cactus. She asked what she should do and I yelled, "Don't try to pull it out." because as soon as you attempt, now both face and fingers are attached. Sliding/stumbling into a cactus is omething we have all done but this was more serious as a large cluster had penetrated the side of her face and shoulder. Her dog looks on, concerned. Fortunately, one of us had gloves and that, coupled with needle nose pliers, extracted the cluster but left 20ish needles embedded in the skin.
As we waited, a couple of guys from France passed through. Way in the distance, Superstition Peak and Weaver's Needle. Anette, part porcupine now, was unable to shoulder her pack so I inserted her pack into mine and we were good to go. However, the left and right zipper were zipped to the top of the opening in my pack and that is always a mistake. Both zippers should be pulled to the bottom right or left
We soon arrived at the top of a steep wall that leads us through the cleft in the ridge above. Too steep to stand, I sat at the top of the ledge and at that point, Anette's pack was kind of jettisoned out of mine, now laying on the rock behind me. Of course I was oblivious to this, distracted by the need to "butt hike" the slope. We arrived where the slope moderates and.....
....finished the down climb. How I did not realize I no longer had approximately 20 pounds in my pack is a statement to obtuseness or something. Geesh. I hung back so if she needed water, she could access it. Awhile later, I finally realized something was amiss and said what is common in moments of revelation when you realize you have to climb back up the mountain cause you lost something. I apologized for my language, dropped all my stuff and headed back up. It's not the climb it's the concern I would fail to accurately retrace the route because there are 2-3 different ways to go. I found the wall and there was Andy, standing next to the pack, wondering what he should do with a pack that is without a hiker.
We worked our way through the obstacles and reunited the pack with owner. Finished with 5 miles and 2300' of climbing. It is a 90 minute drive to home, a long way for such a short hike but it's the views, the adventure of the route, etc... that justifies it.