Thimble Peak, East Tower
A prominent peak when viewed from the south or east is Thimble Peak. It can be approached from Bear Canyon, Sabino Canyon or Sycamore Canyon with the latter being the most direct so I organized a group hike, departing from the Gordon H parking area at 5000' elevation.
All but Amy and I arrived early (a paving project stopped us for awhile) so rather than start at 8:00am it was more like 8:10am....sorry! We begin our hike but soon I hear a yell and am told to pause as the group needed to shed a layer of clothing. In the valley, the overnight low was only around 50 and the high to be 85. At this higher elevation, it wasn't much cooler.
After 1.3 miles with a mild ascent, Amy's sunglasses reflect a.....
....magnificent view. The high point in the distance is Cathedral Rock. I've only been there once and want to do it again but would have to carefully select the hiking partners rather than open it to anyone interested. The once a week group hikes have been great fun for me but Cathedral is a different set of circumstances at 17 miles and 6000' of climbing....yikes.
After descending 600' from the saddle down into Sycamore Canyon and at about 2.4 miles from our start, we reach a trail intersection and take the left breaking fork which gives us our first view of Thimble Peak in the distance and a marvelous spot at.....
....Sycamore Reservoir. The dam, built in the 1930's, appears to be in good shape but the area behind it long ago filled in with debris so it was simply a stream, tumbling over the dam.
The trail through Sycamore Canyon is relatively flat, sandy and easy on the feet. Reaching a large cairn, from previous visits, I know to make a left which is known as the shortcut to Bear Canyon Trail. We cross a wash with some water flow and ascend to.....
....Bear Canyon Trail where we make a left. The shortcut shaves about 1 mile from the hike. I was surprised that there was no evidence from last year's fire. Good that this area was spared although still standing, burned trees, likely from the 2003 Aspen fire, were plentiful.
We reach Thimble Saddle and soon thereafter, Thimble Flat. Just as the trail plunges into Bear Canyon, I look for what was once a very faint trail breaking right but is now rather obvious. In the distance, Thimble Peak and not looking all that impressive considering all else about it.
The route has many obvious outcroppings where we can stand to admire the awesome views.
We ascend, steadily making progress to Thimble Peak. A few days prior to our hike, a member, Paul C. contacted me and said he would depart early, climb the east tower and be there to assist our climb, describing it as, "any capable hiker ought to be able to make it".
Sure enough, close enough now to see the full exposure of the east tower (referred elsewhere as the south tower so who knows) I see Paul, standing at the top. You have to look closely but there he is. That was a relief as while just reaching the base of Thimble is a fine hike, making it to the top is freaking spectacular.
The gang follows closely behind. Having hiked 5 miles, there was a worn face or two but this group is comprised of real troopers. Fun loving, outdoor, adventure seekers.
Paul encouraged me so up I went, a little, kind of reconnoitered the situation and thought, "Hmmm, I don't think the group will do this." Au contraire! Marc G volunteered and up he went. Then I think Jeff, then maybe Lorna and at some point, I did too.
With space being limited, we had to clear out and continue the slightly less technical ascent. Amy shows her reaction to reaching the peak with Jeff and Lorna to her left. All but two of us made it up as we busied ourselves with having.....
....our pictures taken from various vantage points.
Marc poses with the west tower behind him. That tower is about 10' higher than the east tower on which we were standing. Paul volunteered to down climb, go around to a center notch, climb up, secure rope so we could ascend the other tower but we all were satisfied with what we already had accomplished.
We could see into Bear Canyon and.....
....farther down Bear Canyon and the city of Tucson beyond. We also could see...
....into Sabino Canyon and even Sabino Canyon Road and the shuttle, transporting people who were gawking at the scenery and having no idea, way above them, we were gawking in their direction.
Having left our packs below, many of us were hungry and thirsty so we began to gather ourselves for the climb down, about which I was a little nervous. We signed into the peak register but then I found an older one, shoved under an overhang. Paul had ascended this peak more than a few times but had never previously spotted it.
Taking one last look around, we....
.....began the descent. Lorrie, above, has an issue with exposure but the effect of the chimney made a difference and she had no problem. Paul had secured a rope for us so some took advantage of it, some not.
We circled around and looked at the notch between the twin towers. I've been up it once and to the west tower but, again, our appetite was sated and we headed back. Finished with 11 miles and 2700' of climbing. I had guesstimated it would take our group 6 hours but it was 7 instead. Not too bad of a miss but a couple of us were running short of water at the end.
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