I was talking to a fellow hiker who asked if I had ever hiked to Table Mountain and if so, would I be willing to show the way. Doing that particular route would be easier if you have someone who has been up there so sure, I eagerly accepted. Dan, Vickie and me begin the hike from Pima Canyon trail head and soon encounter a local artist. Quality work and his paintings are sold in a local art gallery.
Three miles into the hike along the Pima Canyon trail, I spot the point from which we launch our bushwhacking effort. The midpoint destination is the grassy looking slope between the canyon walls. The slope always looks grassy because it is usually covered with Schott Agave, better known as the dreaded Shindagger. However.....
….an invasive grass has taken over (don't worry, the shindaggers are still in there) as we slowly work our way up canyon. This grass, which grows waist high, hides everything around it. Going up it is a pain but coming down, really dangerous as I explain later. One thing is certain, during snake season, no way would I venture into this environment. The buzzing of a rattler could be coming from any direction and you'd have no way of knowing where it is.
About half way up, we gleefully enter this boulder field. A fall in here would at least be painful but what a relief to get out of the brush. These boulders are scattered all over the canyon, for the most part hidden by the grass.
A final steep slope until we mount the bottom of the table. The climb from the trail to the saddle is .75 miles with an average grade of 30%. Throw in the brush, cactus, grass, shindaggers….well, it wasn't a lot of fun. Last time I did this route the grass was largely absent and made the going much easier.
Emerging from the canyon, the views are magnificent to the southwest. I know my mention of the grass is becoming tedious but look at that stuff!
The final roughly 1 mile is still steep but nothing like what we experienced. The sloped plateau has some slick rock that is welcome. I got out front a ways from Dan and Vickie so I could poke around and find the best approach. Stupidly, I had relied solely on my memory from 2 previous visits and had not downloaded the route so I could follow it on my phone.
My hiking companions were good sports as I roamed ahead and slowly picked our way through the obstacles. At long last....
….I emerged from the thicket but slightly below the top so circled around and first....
….found a very cool camp site and then.....
…..sat and took a couple of images. I retraced my route and shouted so the others could use my voice to hone in on....
….the overlook. Dan signs the summit register and it appears this mountain receives an average visit of 1-2 a month. Note the gaiters worn by Vickie. Good idea for a hike like this one.
Do I look worn out? I kind of was and not looking forward to the descent. Should have put another day of rest between the hike of Saturday and this one on Monday. Yep, Christmas Eve and what a way to spend part of the day. There were a lot of people on the maintained trail enjoying the sun and warmth. After awhile, we begin our journey back.
The main problem with the grass is when you step on a sloped rock and the grass is caught between the rock and your foot, it is slick as ice. Dan fell a few times but each time sprang up with a "I'm good!" I fell twice but both times my slide was broken by the sharp edge of a boulder. Both on my left calf! When the pain goes away it will feel awesome. The above image captures the steepness well.
I emerge first on the Pima Canyon trail and am thrilled. I fought an urge to bend over and kiss the dirt. The next 3 miles is obvious so I keep going as I was anxious to get this experience behind me. It is a "long" 3 miles because of all the rocks jutting out of the trail, kind of creating an obstacle course.
I pass a damn with water trickling from it. Finished with 10+ miles, 3500' of climbing and the usual aches and pains.