Our group of 7 gather at the Pima Canyon trail and begin a 3 mile hike before heading off trail. I was kind of dreading it actually, given my hike to Finger rock Guard of a couple weeks ago and experiencing the conditions I found there.. We pause, to take off a layer of clothing.
We reach an old dam, adjust our clothing another time and.....
.....bow to pass below the arch formed by a tree. We enter a boulder filled wash, hop from one boulder to another for about 1/4 mile and then, groan....
....enter an exceedingly steep and grassy gully. I planned to stay out of the gully, on the right side, until the walls close in and force a gully entry. However, someone noted it did not look too congested in there so....
....we descended. The Bighorn fire passed through here two years ago and took care of most of the brush so that's good. The monsoonal rains of the last two years invigorated grass growth so that's bad. I know, you look at the image and think, "That doesn't look too bad" but the only pics I took were the rare instances where I wasn't using all my appendages to stay erect.
Fabulous views whenever we paused our effort to enjoy the scenery around us.
About half way up this roughly mile long gully having a 30% average grade, we enter a boulder field. A fall in here would be bad but it was a relief to exit the vegetation, briefly.
We near the exit of the gully. One member of our group, Jen, fell and became a bit disoriented so we paused and again admired our surroundings.
Past visits to the gully and what comes after yielded a series of cairns that aided immensely to the navigation. Not this time as the only cairn I saw, unless I happened to accidentally walk by one, was the above at the head of the gully.
We were all kind of beat up at this point. Jen was having bouts of dizziness so she and her friend, Mitch Stevens, elected to turn around. Now we turned our attention to....
....the ascent of Table Mountain. The route is a long, "C" shape to the precipice that would reward us with incredible views.
Well, ok, the views were already incredible! To stay on route, one has to stay to the middle of the Table, otherwise.....
....you become cliffed out and have to reroute. Without the benefit of being able to follow the grass covered cairns, grass obscuring everything not higher than 4' and me having to constantly check my device's gps route, our progress was creeping along. I called a halt and....
....considering the time of day and a .9 mile advance still to negotiate, I decided we ought to turn around. Jeff on the right, a funny guy, said it was a good hike but that I had failed, lol. There was another threat of recrimination from Marc G that too was funny. I hated to not reach the peak but in retrospect, it was a good thing since our return to the parking lot was 3:30pm, giving us 2 hours of remaining light. It would have taken at least another 2 hours to reach the peak, ohhh and awww the scenery and return.
For our return, we stayed in the gully and had fun navigating a couple of steep down climbs. Finished with 8.45 miles and 3000'+ of climbing. I fell more times on this hike than all others combined and must say, I'm staying away from bushwhacking routes until conditions change.