After 3 days of hard rides I needed a rest day so, hooked up with a group to hike one of my favorites, Elephant Head in Madera Canyon. There it is, behind Deanna, one of 5 in our little group. The forest service road to the trail head is brutal and a high clearance vehicle is needed to navigate. This required car pooling, which generally I avoid because...
.....once the hike is finished, I'm not getting out until the last of the group finishes the hike. Oh boy, right off the bat I had bad vibes and my sense was confirmed when, after completing the first 1/3 of the route the latter part of which is a 700' descent into a gully, the group stopped to rest and refuel. I paused, walked up a ways to take a pic, thinking this might spur them to movement and then took off. I'd rather break at the summit and enjoy the views then in the gully.
After climbing the 800' out of the gully, the views are wonderful, including the observatory at the top of Mt Hopkins, center right.
The irregular landscape to the south is fantastic viewing too and after working my way through numerous obstacles I reached.....
....the summit where the shrine for elephants is located. Not sure why there is a giraffe in there too. I sat, watched, drank, ate an apple, checked my Garmin many times and after 40 minutes.....
....here they came at last. Each seemed really fit but they just liked to stop frequently so I thought maybe they belonged to a hikers union and work rules required numerous breaks?
Some of the adjoining peaks.
The gully into which I must descend on the way back. My legs were fatigued and I was not looking forward to the return.
We refueled, spread on more sunscreen and off we went. I soon had a good gap and kept going, reaching a saddle prior to dropping into the trail head and there sitting in the shade were.....
....two mountain bikers. Had a nice talk before they hiked a bike up an alternate trail. I sat in the shade, 88 degrees but a nice breeze for 30 minutes before I could spot my colleagues in the distance coming down trail. I got up, walked to the parking area, waited another 30 minutes and then here they came. Finished with 7 miles and quite a bit of climbing.