Cow Canyon Saddle to Bighorn Ridge
Gain: 5400 ft (6300 ft for all excursions)
Distance: 17 miles (18)
Others’ photos and Meetup link here
Well, this one was quite a scouting trip, and exhausting at that. The goal was to try to get up to Bighorn Ridge and we were able to do that, although it definitely required dealing with a good amount of brush.
We set off from Cow Canyon saddle and heading down the fireroad, hitting up the bottom in about 5 miles. We headed up a mile or so up Cattle Canyon until nearing the area deemed as a reasonable starting spot to head up. We met up with HikeUp and discussed potential routes, and figured that there was obvious best way (although there were bad ones). So we began climbing up.
It’s hard for me to illustrate the terrain as I didn’t take a lot of pictures going up. We were simply dealing with a good amount of brush off and on, and I needed to use my hands to clear instead of take pictures. As it turns out, it seemed that in places there was a faint, old use trail of sorts switchbacking up. However, a considerable amount of the path was blocked with brush, usually some combination of yucca, buckthorn, or manzanita.
Open areas were still very steep, but appreciated. The lower half of the ascent seemed to be relatively more covered in brush than the upper, although in both cases we had to resort to crawling around at some points.
It took us probably 3.5 hrs to make it up to Bighorn Ridge, in approximately 2 miles! A solid 1/2 mile per hour clip. Much of this was dealing / breaking route as well as finding best pathways.
At this point, we were planning on heading along the ridge with a goal to get to the bump at ~ 6300 ft. While the rest of the group began to traverse along the eastern edge of the ridge, I checked out the western side and some views of the San Antonio ridge.
There was some faint trails heading both north, south, and west down into Coldwater Canyon. It is too difficult to tell if its from human use or just game trails, but I was intrigued. I continued northernly on this side of the ridge following some faint game trails and eventually climbed back up to the top of the ridge. I had gained distance considerably faster than the rest of the group, who was dealing with more brush and rock bouldering.
We continued on further a bit, but it was already pretty late and we decided to turn around. We didn’t get to the bump I ideally wanted to get to, but we had seen a decent portion of the ridge. The portion ahead still had considerable brush, but I think doable.
At this point we turned around and headed back. The descent took about 1/2 the time of the ascent, given we knew our path better & and had broken trail.
As for estimating the rest of the ridge, I would imagine it would be slow going up to some altitude (maybe 7500 ft?) where the brush would clear up, and from there it would be just elevation gain. I think this would be a big undertaking, but doable as a dayhike. I think exploring this portion now will make the ascent to the ridge much quicker next time as long as I remember the path, which I should.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 16th, 2009 at 3:36 pm and is filed under Trip Report, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.