Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunset trail

This past weekend a friend from New Mexico came to visit and we decided to go up to Mt. Lemmon for a hike. As promised I applied the Doodologist's tattoo so I would feel like Claire was also there with us.

Hiking with my friends was quite a different experience. They have a very different approach to it. I'm all about planning the trails I'll do, looking at maps and a compass, knowing the elevation change I can expect and the conditions of the trail. They just park somewhere, find a trail and follow it. I had 72Oz of water, 2 cheese sticks, a pear, some bread and a couple of sausages. They had 32Oz of water, combined, and nothing else. Of course I shared my food and we didn't do a super-hard or long trail so it wasn't so bad. Still, despite the fact that both of my friends have hiked before and one actually considers herself a hiker, they were not prepared. They both got a little dehydrated, for obvious reasons, at the end.

The good part about it was having someone to talk to all the way, to have the chance to be plain silly and to have lots of pictures with me in them.

You can guess from the title that the trail we did is called Sunset trail. Very different from the other 2 I have done on Mt. Lemmon. Very rocky, not much tree coverage due to an old fire. The same spectacular views, peace and serenity though. We also found a couple of cute creatures:

Can you see the tiny little Horny Toad? ------------------------->

The lizard posed for us and didn't run away until we took a few pictures of it ;-). We ended up drenched in sweat, tired but with a happy heart.

After the hike we went to a social event that my department has every time the football team plays in house. We first have a scientific discussion (yes, on Saturdays) and then we hang out, eat hotdogs and play with bean bags.

It was actually fun but I'm not willing to give away many of my Saturdays for it :-P. After the tailgating we went for dinner and I completely forgot to take pictures. It really sucks because after dinner I saw my sister who had an impromptu getaway in Tucson. I only hanged out with her for 1 hour or so but it was good, it makes me feel a little less home-sick ;-).

I'm already planning my next hike and it probably won't be a lonely one again but, I don't want to give that away just yet ;-).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Solo hike

One of the things I used to do with Germanman and that I enjoyed a lot was hiking. Now that he is gone I was not going to stop. So, I looked up the trail maps for Mount Lemmon, it's a mountain about 1h from Tucson where we can go to get away from the heat. I had only been there once before so I'm not familiar with the trails. I wanted to have planned what I was going to do so I could let people know about it and not end up like the guy in 127-hours, falling somewhere with no-one that knew where I was and when I was supposed to come back.

I decided to do a trial called Mint Spring, it had good reviews and was annotated as fairly easy. The thing was, I couldn't find the stupid headtrail so I did change the trail I was doing at the last minute but I knew the place was absolutely packed and I could get help if I needed it. I started a trail called Marshal Gulch, it's 1.2 miles long and follows a spring. It was very easy and I enjoyed a bunch of different wild flowers and a few pretty birds. It took me less than an hour to complete the trail, it ends in a saddle where 4 more trails start.

I knew about one of the trails, called Wilderness of Rocks because the German had considered doing it at some point. I knew it had really cool rock formations (ergo the name) but I saw on the map that it was very long (4 miles). I decided to go on it and if go back when I got tired. That angry guy on the right is the first rock formation on the trail. About 5 minutes into the trail I got to a huge flat rock and I couldn't see where the trail continued so I waited there for a couple of minutes until someone else came. It was a couple with their 11-12y old son, the kid knew the trail very well and pointed me in the right direction. Immediately after that the trail got very steep and rocky. I'm not a good climber so I knew that whatever distance I was going down I would have climb up on my way back. Because the trail is so rocky it was also very hard to follow it and after 20 minutes or so I decided that it was not a good idea for me to continue in it. I went back to the flat rock and had lunch there, with an amazing view of the canyon and the mountains. Lunch consisted of a bagel, 2 cheese sticks, 1 salami stick, a banana and a lot of water.

After my lunch I went back to the Marshall Gulch saddle and decided to go back taking the Aspen trail, it forms a loop with the Marshall Gulch trail so it would take me back to my car. The Aspen trail was considerably more difficult than Marshall Gulch, probably the reason why I didn't see anybody on the trail after I started it. The last people I saw, in the saddle, was a couple with their 1y old daughter riding on her Daddy's back. When I was 1h into the trail I thought I was close to the end so pulled out the map just to be sure, it was until then that I realized that the trail was actually 2.5 miles long, not the 1.5 miles I thought it was. There was nothing to do but keep going. I then realized just how quiet that place was and a sudden rush of loneliness came over me. I couldn't stop thinking about that couple with their baby. No, I haven't given up, I still want that. I want to hike with my husband while he carries our baby in his back. The feeling was very powerful and I had to stop for a minute and calm myself down, I was not going to cry in the middle of the woods...and I didn't. I kept on going. I had to focus on where I was stepping and how to get around fallen trees. There was a lot of overgrowth on the trail and at some point I started thinking I had lost the trail and was following a false trail because it was not maintained at all and I had not seen anyone in a long time. I panicked for a couple of minutes and decided that if by 3:00pm (it was around 1pm) I had not seen anyone of made it trough the end I would have to turn around and go back on Marshall Gulch trail.

Fortunately that wasn't necessary, at 1:45pm I saw the most beautiful thing my eyes saw today. No, it wasn't someone else. No, it wasn't my car. It was the restrooms by the parking lot, jajajajaja.

Someone told me that if you want to hike you have to do it on your own. Curiously though I didn't see anybody else hiking on their own. I saw a lot of couples, couples with kids and a 2 groups of elderly people hiking all together. One of the elderly women asked me if I was with 3 girls that were hiking in front of me. I said: "no, I'm all on my own". She said: "huh, well, have a good day". She was surprised by my answer. So, no, I don't think many people hike on their own. But, I will continue to do it...after I buy a compass.