Finger Rock Canyon

December 29, 2007

A pleasant afternoon stroll in Finger Rock Canyon earlier this week convinced us to return for a two-day backpacking trip. We last hiked this canyon in January, 2005, but we only made it as far as Linda Vista. We thought by camping partway up the canyon we might be able to make it all the way to the ridge.

Both Pima and Finger Rock Canyon slope towards the south and can be pretty toasty even on a brisk winter day. With daytime highs only in the low 60s, this looked like the perfect weekend. But cooler temperatures also meant extra clothes and the heavy-duty tent along with the requisite eight liters of water.

I guess two years was just long enough to make us forget that this trail is an unrelenting uphill slog, made even steeper by 35-pound backpacks.

Just after the Finger Rock overlook, the trail wraps around the north slope of the canyon. We were surprised to find snow and ice on the trail. When another hiker reported that the trail ahead was a sheet of ice, we decided to camp at Linda Vista.

Linda Vista is a lovely shelf just over the ridge about four miles up the canyon. The elevation is 5850 feet according to our GPS.

Toward sunset the wind picked up and the temperature plunged to 30°, chasing us into the tent for a very long night.

These photos were taken about 5:30 pm. You can see Mount Wrighton and Hopkins on the horizon in the photo above.

The knob on the left is Baboquivari.

By nightfall, the lights of a Tucson was a cascade of diamonds sparkling on a black velvet background.

A warm front blew in overnight, and we awoke to sunny skies, calm winds and much warmer temperatures.

We delayed our departure as long as possible, and then slowly made our way back down the canyon. The descent is almost as difficult as the climb, since the path is extremely stony and every step involves lifting your feet over some sort of obstacle.

View up the canyon of a frozen waterfall just below the ridge. Our ascent to the ridge will have to wait for warmer weather.