Many times while riding my bike up Mountain Lemmon I have passed this inviting canyon at the first hairpin curve on Catalina Highway. I explored it last year but had to turn around due to darkness. With today being unusually cool, I decided to try again.
Massive boulders and other obstruction patiently wait while I figure out a way around over or sometimes under. I really enjoy the challenge of solving a way forward, balancing on gigantic boulders, leaping from one to the other but always being careful.....
....not to slide into some crevice where I would be required to hack off an arm or leg in order to escape. Looking back, cyclists are a steady presence on the highway but with the temp at the mountain top around 20 degrees cooler (around 40) most will turn around prior to the top.
Multiple waterfalls cascade down various obstacles, all known as Santa Catalina Gneiss. The color is amazing. The above 100' wall is a Class 2 scramble so not too difficult but a fall would be bad so I carefully ascend the left side which has good holds/ledges.
In the sand, I am reminded that various creatures have left their prints behind and are likely watching me from the above slopes.
When I was here last fall, there was no water flowing so I could walk where now water forces me to find alternatives. Always there was one.
That knife edge boulder can be climbed via the spine but that looks too tricky so I found an alternative up the left side. Upon finally exiting this pile....
.....I had the satisfaction of looking back, a good feeling of accomplishment.
Every once in awhile there would be some relief from the massive boulders and the walking was easy on slick rock. Just not often enough.
The remains of a huge Cottonwood tree.
Nearing the end and at about mile 1.8, a family of falls is navigated and then....
.....at mile 2, the canyon narrows considerable and I squeeze by the tree to find....
....a Class 4 wall to scramble. Doable even by me but the water limited some of the options and those options can be like ice so I decided not to do the final climb that brings you to a dead end. I have read that once above this wall, you can climb a steep slope and find the Solider Trail that would take one back to Catalina Highway, not far from where the car is parked.
I decided to retrace my route through this beautiful canyon, enjoying the many challenging obstacles. Finished with 4 miles and 1550' of climbing. Well, back to the bike!