Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Madera Canyon Trail Run

Madera Canyon Wilderness
Santa Rita Mountains, AZ
Mileage 15.67
Time 3:45
AEG 3246ft

From our cabin at the Santa Rita Lodge, I headed out solo to run a giant loop through the wilderness of Madera Canyon. I warmed the legs up by running a mile to the end of Madera Canyon Road on a very quiet, still, and chilly morning. All day long I literally had the place to myself, with the exception of a few deer and about 20 turkeys. Looking ahead I noticed clouds looming around the summit of Mt Wrightson, and by the time I reached the Old Baldy trailhead (at the end of the road), the flurries started to fly. To cover some new ground, I hiked the Aqua Caliente trail across the canyon from Wrightson eventually making my way up the steep climbs, past the Vault mine, over icy snowpack, and to the Josephine Saddle intersection.

My plan was to hike to the Baldy Saddle near the summit and beyond that point along the crest, except the wind and snow became overwhelming as I set out in shorts and lightweight running clothes. My hands were numb and losing feeling (even within my gloves), and frost began forming on my beanie within the first 3-4 miles, so I aborted the original plan and headed down the super trail to Madera Canyon Road. I jumped on the Nature trail and followed the stream bed all the way down to the Proctor Trailhead, then ran the road back to the cabin. The weather made today's trek challenging, yet visually stunning. Clouds, snow, sun, rain, thunder and lightning filled the sky providing several different views of my favorite place in Arizona.

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