I received the Golden Ticket invite from Lorna and Marc to attend a hike to Ragged Top. I've been there once, several years ago but as an out and back hike while today's would be a loop. We drove in two SUVs but the one I was in, bottomed out on the knoll to the left while Lorna's made it. We parked, gathered our gear and began trudging. Soon, Lorna came back and picked us up, delivering us to the trail head. Sadly, Amy was absent with a case of food poisoning.
We enter Ironwood National Monument and begin our hike, first via a wash.
There was some debate about which saddle was our intermediate goal and we agree on the one having the saguaros. We strike out, bushwhacking.....
....up a steep slope, really steep. Finally, we....
....reach the saddle and enjoy views to the other side. The day was a little windy, mid 50's start with some cloud cover. Now we discuss which saddle in the distance is our next goal, agree on one and shove off.
Marc and Lorna check out a nearby cave. I was going to see it too but only if they discovered a wild animal to make the climb worthwhile. I look back to the saddle from which we came and note all the Jumping Cholla plants. They would become a real pain over the course of our hike, literally.
The 2nd saddle was so much higher than where we were. That looks steep!!! It was. I had downloaded a GPX track and was checking it occasionally to make sure we were on the correct route. Since doing so drains my battery at an alarming rate. I'd turn it on, check and then turn it off.
Lorna must swerve when she walks as she was frequently bumping into the Cholla. I had one encounter with a clump that attached itself to my left calf. Lorna had a pair of pliers, counted down from three and gave it a hard pull, OUCH! I think she gave it an unnecessary twist while extracting, to add to the pain.
Marc discovered a recently stripped leg bone of either a deer or bighorn sheep. Mountain lions are around, watching us but never to be seen.
The climb to the saddle had an average grade of 41% so mostly it was 4-point hiking/climbing. Checking GPX, we were right where we needed to be and concluded, the above chute was what next needed to be climbed. Lorna led the way and I was surprised it was not as nasty an experience as it appeared. There is a distinct, social trail that was pretty easy to follow.
We passed these small caves but saw no evidence of any animal activity. No sane animal would make a den in such close proximity to a trail.
Our route continues to be steep and over loose rocks. I dreaded the down climb.
While we regrouped momentarily, I scouted around, found a faint trail and began climbing. Such a rugged landscape. At last....
....we scramble a bit of a wall that had some serious exposure (meaning a fall would be injurious to your health or death) and reach....
....a small and barren peak. We had a good view of the Silverbell Mine which is now closed, as well as....
....the Catalinas and many other mountain ranges. What a thrill for us all to reach this seldom visited peak. We eat, drink and gear up for the down climb.
Ugh, all hands and feet are required and an occasional butt slide.
Lorna takes the above image of me as we descend to a saddle from where we make a right, to continue our clockwise loop. The ravine that we follow is very steep but there is a social trail that is usually easy to follow. I took few images because my hands were constantly in use and grateful that Marc had loaned me a pair of durable gloves.
Upon leaving the ravine, we begin a long walk across the desert to the trail head. Looking back, I can see why the name "Ragged Top" was given to this portion of the Silverbell Mountains. We finished with 4.8 miles (actually, if you can start from the trail head rather than farther out where our vehicle parked, it's about 3.3 miles) and a healthy 1975' of climbing. We celebrated with a beer or water.