Wait a minute... I was on this hike and don't remember all those beautiful colors and textures :)
Actually Craig and I discussed this. I took no pictures at all, which is normal for me. I tend to just absorb the entire view while Craig, being an artist, can pick out those little things that make for great pictures.
A few things Craig did not share...
Because we were hiking cross country about 95% of the time, we were usually able to walk side by side, making for great conversation while often keeping an easy 3 mph pace.
The trail we took out of Butler Canyon: I have done this several times taking direct, difficult and sometimes iffy footing. Last year I stopped in a bar for a burger and beer after a trip. I guess because I smelled so good, one of the locals asked about where I had hiked. He shared that there was an ancient Indian trail that was a lot easier. Now keep in mind that the last Native who lived full time in this area left in 1910, so many of the trails are difficult to find and they often disappear. We were able to find the trail without much work but much of it was very faint, you had to look for the small rocks that had been compressed over a 100 years ago from foot travel, and most of that was overgrown. The ducks were helpful. This was a great team effort. Craig led most of the way and at points we had to discuss which way to go. Always easy agreement. Towards the top, we lost the trail completely. When you are navigating between canyons, route finding can be difficult. You are dealing with multiple ridge lines, and rarely are high enough to see the entire area. Because of this we topped out maybe a mile or two too far west, which I knew right away. We would have done much better (faster) if we had relied on a GPS. I brought my iPhone, but tried not to use it for "philosophical" reasons. We did check it several times, because Craig wanted to get home early Sunday to spend time with his family, something I respect him for. We were never lost, just worked routes that would be fairly direct, rather than going further east to the areas I was more familiar with. This is the beauty of cross country hiking, you are not restricted to some arbitrary trail or pressured to stay on track.
Talking about staying on track, I did tell Craig that we would need to be very careful when we got close to Box Canyon. There are numerous side canyons all with long ridges on each side, and you can not get high enough to see everything. We ended up on a ridge that was one too far far east than where I had hiked in the past. To get to the designated ridge, would require back tracking along the ridge of a bowl, then hiking along a fairly easy ridge down into Box Canyon. By fairly easy I mean slope, not the clusters of Cholla that are a constant gauntlet. Given that we were getting hit with gusts around 45 mph and the correction would add a lot of real estate to cover, Craig suggested we seek another route which was the Canyon we were standing above. At first it looked too steep but the map and a little investigative walk by Craig proved otherwise and we decided to head down. Lots of loose dirt and rocks but the descent went quickly and we avoided the Cholla forest of the planned route.
Night camp was a lot of fun. We pitched our shelters facing each other, solved numerous world issues, ate some of Craig's excellent salami and bread along with a liter of red wine, and tried to ignore the wind. This was the best part of the trip. We talked to our first "outsider" just before we got to our car. He was the ranger and quite impressed with our route had been done in just one day.
This trip was really about picking the right hiking partner, which leads to excellent adventures. We nailed it with the right team and the right trip. Thanks, Craig.