This hike seemed easier to me this year than last. Eleven miles and 1,800 feet of elevation gain (accumulated) is a challenge, but the weather was nice in the 60’s with good breezes, and hazy overcast for good light conditions. The hike starts from First Water trailhead (a familiar place for us this year, it seems!) and follows Second Water trail eastward to Boulder Canyon. The scenes as you descend into that canyon are spectacular under any light, even clouds! At the end of Second Water trail, the route turns south on Boulder Canyon trail. The canyon comes by its’ name honestly! The trail boulder-hop-crosses the creek 11 times. Last year all crossings were over flowing water, this year only a couple crossings were wet. It’s a dry winter in the Superstitions. After a trek up canyon (2 miles of so?) we abandon the established trails and follow a faint and gnarly “use” path up and over a saddle on Battleship Mountain. This is the toughest link in the route (and you have to do it both directions) because of the steep grade and inconsistent footing. Wild country! One the way up over the pass there was a recent rockfall off to our right. Below is a “zoomed” shot showing the fresh break in the cliff and debris below. Topping the saddle, you begin the descent into LaBarge Canyon. The view below is looking “down canyon” as it opens on it’s path northward towards the Salt River. Our destination is “up canyon”. In the photo below note the dark basalt rock in the right of the scene. That is the core of an ancient volcano, and the “narrows” is a narrow slot canyon which pierces that formation. Lacking 3D capabilities, it’s not easy to see in this shot. When you reach the canyon floor the Narrows is to your right. The floor of the slot is smooth, almost polished in appearance, the result of millenniums of water flow which carved this path, and the walls are 4-500 foot cliffs of jagged basalt. Huge boulders choke the canyon upstream, many the size of large buildings. One can’t help wonder at the changes that this monolithic head has observed over the eons it has sat deep in this canyon.