I drove beyond the village of Summerhaven, past Ski Valley and up to the fence of the Observatory. I shoved off with 3 liters of fluids and a snack at around 9:30 with a temperature of 61. I started on the Meadow Trail which has little meadow but perhaps it did when the trail was named? Following this for .8 of a mile threw me onto.....
.....Mount Lemmon trail. The views are......
.....incredible. I sometimes just stand, jaw agape, watching. OK, full disclosure, knowing the route dropped into the valley, I was already anxious about what was surely a steep climb out of that.
A thick grove of ferns where once pine trees grew. In the distance is Cathedral Rock, another awesome hike. The trail dropped steadily as I headed for the "Wilderness of Rocks" trail.
While I had not yet reached the aforementioned trail, I think this signals the beginning of the rock wilderness.
Yep, I was in it now!
Thousands of pine trees have become established and are now infringing on the trail in some places.
Note the trail on the right of the image. I am now on the "Wilderness of Rocks" trail and enjoying the rolling nature of it.
Water! This drains into the Lemmon Pools. I have visited that neat spot once but walked by the place where one must go off trail, without noticing. Oh well.
In the valley, the vegetation that borders the drainage is thick and offers a nice alternative to desert hiking. As I neared the "Mount Lemmon Lookout" trail which would give me the return to the trail head, I paused to refuel. The mountain top loomed above me. Although I have never been on the trail I was about to hike, I assumed it would be steep and so....
....it was. Almost 2 miles having an average grade of 15%.
I assumed there would be a Strava segment for the climb so I hit it pretty hard and only paused to take a couple of images. That rock feature is cool and signaled I was closing on the top. Soon, my stomach began cramping. Never happened previously and I should have stopped but slowed my pace and once reaching the top and reuniting with the "Mount Lemmon" trail.....
....I sat down, drank a lot of fluids and quickly felt a lot better. Good but difficult hike, in cool temperatures while finishing with 9.5 miles and 2500' of climbing.