Arizona Again! Part 4 (Madera Canyon)
The mountains were calling to me this morning, so I packed a lunch and plenty of water and drove to Madera Canyon. It's only about 30 miles from Green Valley and was an easy, pleasant drive. Much of the area was posted as free range for cattle, and there were several cattle guards across the road. I also counted three one-way bridges across dry washes. As the Santa Rita Mountains rose higher in front of me, my excitement grew as well.
The road dead-ends at Mt. Wrightson picnic area and trailheads. The above sign explains why I felt a little lightheaded! And it was COLD! I left north Idaho to warm up in Arizona, but found myself shivering in the morning sunshine.
The urge struck me to hike in the mountains a little. Studying the map, I found a loop about a mile long and decided I ought to be able to handle that. It would have been better if I had hiking poles along, and Ms. R could have loaned me a pair, but I didn't consider the possibility of hiking before leaving her house. The path wound up and up. It was very rocky, and sometimes difficult to follow. It almost disappeared more than once. Intersections with other paths were not well marked, and when I reached what I thought must be the path I needed to turn onto, there was no sign indicating its name or number. I took my chances, and it took me back to the main road, as anticipated. It was a better path than the first one, and the descent was gradual.
I didn't see anyone for about 45 minutes. When I took this picture, I was resting on a large boulder, listening to occasional bird songs, but mostly hearing absolutely nothing. The silence was wonderful, and restorative.
Near the entrance/exit, I stopped to shoot this photo of the Santa Cruz Valley. A sign indicated the names of the various peaks and mountain ranges far in the distance. The air was clear, and I could see all of them.