Our small group parks at Sanctuary Cove and takes a trail to a saddle where we then....
...head off trail into the valley below. A pleasant day for a hike with a few lingering clouds front a front that moved through a couple of days ago but no chance of rain, just perhaps thickening clouds later.
Reaching the floor, we skirt the mountains to our left while heading toward Panther Peak in the distance on the right. At the bottom of the slope is a ridge we eventually reach.
Vagabond Jeff leads the way with Donna second in line. Unbeknownst to us at the time, there was a faint trail to our left that some of us discovered later.
How about that!? We stumbled on the trail and that is good except for the remainder of the climb to the ridge, it is no longer a trail, just a route guided by the placement of cairns to indicate which way to go. Kind of rugged but lots of fun. At some point in time, someone took the time to collect rocks along the route and create dozens of small piles that now guide us. Thank you to whomever!
We have reached the ridge or saddle, regroup and swing right and up the slope to Panther Peak. For this section, there is a faint trail. Reaching the top.....
…..Noooooo. Rain just southwest of us. All I wore was a long sleeve T shirt so with the temp in the 50's, getting soaked would suck. We descended the slope and arrived back at the saddle. There, three of us decided to return the way we came while five decided to follow the ridge line up and over as originally planned.
Three F18s fly maneuvers above us while escorting a large plane. Probably practicing for the next time Air Force One is in the area. I heard they flew out of Yuma and went as far north as Phoenix. Pretty cool.
We returned to the valley floor and occasionally would look to our right at the ridge line and wonder if the other group was receiving rain. At times, yes, it looked pretty socked in up there and since we had some light sprinkles a couple of times.... Later, I talked to our hike leader Jeff and they had to hunker under some cliffs to wait out a brief shower. We decided our group had made the correct choice.
A fallen Saguaro cactus. If one of those falls on you, you are a goner. So heavy and then the spines! Finished with 5.6 miles and 1900' of climbing. Meantime, the other group that followed the ridgeline finished with 5.7 miles, about 90 minutes after us and of course wetter:)