Saturday, March 30th, 2019
First thing in the morning, we had to ford a river, then it was time to make the long ascent up to the top of Mount Lemmon. It started off fairly gradual, with plenty of views of the surrounding mountains. I stopped frequently to take it all in.
There were several false summits, but with all the scenery, I didn’t feel any disappointment.
On one side was the canyon we climbed up from. Behind me were jagged mountains that I believe to be called Cathedral Rock where there was supposedly a small population of bighorn sheep. On the other side appeared to be the outskirts of Tucson down below.
Ahead of me were rounded boulders that reminded me of our visit to the Vedauwoo outside of Laramie, Wyoming.
I met up with Frisbee at a stunning viewpoint before we hiked together through a conifer forest.
We expected the climb to get more and more intense as we traveled through boulder fields and across streams. It never did, and we were at the top in no time! It was a difficult climb, but not as intense as I had anticipated.
We flew along the single track through the forest passing many day hikers, until it took us to a paved road which would lead us to the resort town of Summerhaven. There were many impressive rental homes to gawk at before we arrived at the Mt Lemmon Cookie Cabin. Several people had told us that Arizona Trail hikers can get a free cup of hot chocolate upon arrival.
We waited in the long line that snaked out the front door. Most of the customers had a hankering for a very large, and overpriced cookie. Pretty much everyone surrounding us looked at us with disgust, a familiar reaction, especially in a resort town such as this, but a few knew we were thru hiking and asked us about our journey.
A family sitting at a nearby table who had asked about our hike had a few plates with cookie remains on them that they planned on tossing in the trash. Frisbee told the guy, “If you’re going to throw that out, just give it to us. We’ll eat it!” When he realized that he was dead serious, he handed it over. More looks of disgust followed. Sorry y’all! That’s hiker hunger for ya!
After stinking up the place while waiting in line for such a long time, the cashier responded to our request with a perplexed expression. Apparently we were at the wrong place for the hot chocolate, because she had no clue what we were talking about!
We rambled on along the paved road until we arrived at the Mt Lemmon General Store. This was where we belonged! The staff was super welcoming and the lady behind the counter greeted us, showed us where their hiker box was (which we raided), then got us some very fancy, hot cocoa. While reading the hiker register, we noticed Gnat had somehow passed us and beat us there. She noted, “Frisbee and Stubbs, it’s a long story! See you in Oracle!” We were both concerned and baffled, but we’d have to wait until tomorrow to get any answers. We just hoped she didn’t get hurt.
We loitered out front of the store, sucking up their free WiFi while each of us ate a pint of chocolate ice cream. Then we filled our water bottles, and took the road out of town and back into the woods.
We bumped along single track while looking at the snowy side of Mount Lemmon, then found ourselves hiking on top of a rocky ridge.
We made our final stop for the night near mile 188.9, ate dinner, set up, and watched a gorgeous sunset.
19.3 miles (31.1 km)