The "Oro Valley Outdoor Fun" group came up with a good hike, led by organizers John and Marianne. It's odd, I have been all over the top of Mount Lemmon but for some reason, never hiked the mid mountain hiking trails....that's a mistake. We arrive at the Middle Bear parking area, carpool a few miles up to the Green Mountain parking area and off we hike.
After a brief ascent, we reach a saddle. Here, half our group of 14 hang a right and ascend toward Green Mountain while the other group continues on to Bear Saddle where we will reunite later. Meantime, the fire rages along Pusch Ridge but we are largely oblivious other then an occasional sound of a helicopter.
The route up Green Mountain is usually obvious but not always. Pretty steep with the added bonus of pine needles and gravel, sure to make the descent an adventure. About midpoint of the ascent we reach this beautiful spot. This is another of those, "Good to Be Alive Moments."
We continue up and arrive at the peak where there is a nice camping spot with plenty of wood around. Since this is not an established trail, I doubt many people make it up here.
After a round of picture taking, we descend, again, steeply most of the time.
Reaching the saddle once again, we descend through several switchbacks, off the mountain. Above is the peak. We are now hiking on the eastern side of the Catalinas and so.....
….have wonderful views of the San Pedro river valley and Galiuro Mountains. The trail is easy to follow and mostly descending. I had planned to turn around at some point and hike back up. Frankly, after 2 weeks in Ohio with little cardio experience, I wasn't feeling all that springy so need the miles and uphill effort.
As we neared Bear Saddle, we encountered these monoliths. Yep, that's me, looking kind of paunchy. We rejoined the group and now most of us would ascend Guthrie Mountain.
We ascended an easy to follow but not easy to hike, trail. There was one section of steep granite with pink accents.
Not much room at the top where we were distracted by the sound and sight of a helicopter, once again dumping water on the distant fire. After a short break and mindful that some of us were waiting at Bear Saddle, we descended and....
...passed a tree having an unusual opening. Long dead from a fire that hit this area in 2002.
Usually, images don't capture the steepness of an ascent/descent but this one does. Lot of fun picking a route down while utilizing ridges and concave places for traction.
We rejoined the group at the saddle and they descended to the Middle Bear parking area where they would shuttle to the start of the hike at Green Mountain. Meantime, I retraced our route back to my car at Green Mountain, finishing with 7.3 miles and 2200' of elevation gain. Legs and cardio need a lot of work:(