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By Joao Bras-Jorge
Nov 19, 2014
Summit Nov 12, 2014 - Forbes Route
The trail to the saddle is quite easy to follow up to when we reach 6000 ft. And then cairns take you up to a very wrong trail. It seems it has been used quite a bit and it ends up on a terrible and dangerous bushwhack. It got dark by the time we got to this bushwhack and the trail definitely looks like it's the right one. But it's not.
Luckily I had downloaded the gps file for the entire Forbes Route (starting at parking / gate!) from a hikers website. It saved us. We simply decided to trust it and backtracked to where the trail seemed correct. And indeed! There it was! Under high grass there were old cairns that instead of going uphill stayed level before going up further. This gps track is probably a recording from a few years ago. In 2004 we didn't have a bushwhack to get to the saddle, but somehow year after year this bushwhack trail got more and more used. The trail the GPS follows isn't super easy either but at least it doesn't go above unstable rock, dirt washes and dead ends.
Is it possible to upload the gpx file?
I pinpointed the exact location where the good old trail should be taken.
This would be awesome to preserve the right approach instead of insisting on the wrong one.
So, here are the suggestions to be added to "getting there":
The trail from gate to saddle is easy to follow until 6000ft approx. At that point you MUST NOT go uphill on the obvious trail marked by cairns but stay at same altitude. There is a trail with cairns too, but hidden under grass and it will save you a humongous bushwhack. If you start using your hands on rock bed in a wash, you're on the wrong trail.
By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 19, 2014
I hate to be contradictory, but that trail up the rocky wash works out fine, at least it did when I was up there earlier this year. If you get off of it, or any trail in that area it will surely turn into a horrible bushwhack. But if you stay on it it's fine and there is definitely no "terrible and dangerous bushwhack." You must have taken a wrong turn, Joao.
It appears that someone (not me or anyone I know) did re-engineer that upper portion of the trail within the last few years, probably because the old trail was turning into a nasty erosion gully/slope in the burned area. I can see the idea behind the new trail: gain elevation rapidly using the steep rocky wash, and then contour more gradually over to the saddle to avoid the erosion issues. Despite that there are inevitable issues with erosion in that area no matter which way you go (absent some SERIOUS trail work with heavy tools that is not ever likely to happen). And again, any trail that you lose--in the dark, or otherwise--is going to turn out badly, something that's certainly happened to me on more than one occasion during my first trips to the area.