The hidden gem of Mount Lemmon Pools is today's destination, which requires our small group to ascend the 26 mile drive to Summerhaven and park at the Marshall Gulch trail head.
At an elevation of 8000+', we are surrounded by thick pine forest, ravines and some blue sky peaking through areas that were lost to the Aspen Fire back in 2003 (I think). It being a Sunday and Father's Day, the parking area and surrounding trails are busy not only with hikers but also....
….a lot of dogs and as we passed each, members of our group just had to stop and fawn over them:)
We reach the Marshal Gulch saddle and can see the rock projecting from the surrounding forest, right of center and on it, barely visible, a fire watch station.
I walk by these Columbine flowers without notice but a member of our group expresses delight in seeing them so a round of pic taking ensues. It would be a close vote between which drew more attention, the abundance of flowers or the.....
….dogs. I've never seen so many but they are all well behaved and it was good to interrupt the hike with well deserved pauses.
We descend off the saddle via the Wilderness of Rocks trail and eventually are walking through....
….a pine needle covered valley floor having gigantic Ponderosa and other types of pines. The above image gives some perspective to the size.
Occasional breaks in the trees provided good views to the southwest. We would go off trail to stand and marvel and then.....
...return to the trail that is aptly named. At about mile 3.5, I lead us off trail, poke around quite a bit before finally entering.....
….the pools. A woman was swimming in one of them and seemed a bit miffed when we settled in a small sandy beach area where she must have thought squatter's rights existed.
Above us boulders are balanced and it really is a beautiful spot.
Some of us removed our shoes and socks and waded in but the water was very cold. Calf deep was my limit. You'd think the pools got their name from the color of the water but no, they are in Mountain Lemmon Canyon.
I scrambled higher and got some good looks at other pools and pour-offs but the bottom pool is the best. We soon began the kind of arduous climb out of the canyon, did some more route exploration before I stumbled upon.....
….the trail and a return through the forest. Previously, someone had given us an idea where there was a hummingbird nest, something I had never before seen and with good reason as.....
….upper center between the crossing of the two trees. I was surprised to find it and could see the bird's beak moving around but that's about it. I suspect this is a rare find?
Cathedral Rock in the distance. I still have not made it all the way, almost but not entirely within the "inner sanctum" as it is known. Such a hard hike but I'm not getting any younger as today, 6/21 is my birthday! Happy birthday to me. Finished the hike with 9 miles and 1800' of climbing.