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.


  1. I applaud your bravery. I know it isn't a HUGE deal, but it certainly is something that a lot of us don't really ever think about doing on our own. I imagine the great sense of accomplishment you must feel.

    Very inspiring.

  2. Thanks Laura! I do feel great ;-)

  3. Wow Deray. You are certainly a naturalist. A wonderful reading experience.

  4. Ah, Diana, memories! I did my fair share of hiking at Mt. Lemon when I lived in Tucson, but never solo. Just last week, my wife and I hiked Black Bear Mountain in the Adirondacks. Here, in Ithaca, where I live, I go hiking alone practically every day, chiefly on woodland trails and around Cayuga Lake. I love being alone in nature, and drinking in all the beautiful sights.

  5. I wish I could do that Marty but I have to drive anywhere I want to go. I still like the fact that Tucson has the Catalina Mountains so close though. There's nothing like that near my hometown.

  6. That was a great place! I wish I can go there :(

  7. love that flower picture ..
    i have to say i only enjoy hiking/walking around in nature when im with a dog :)

  8. I think it is awesome that you went hiking by yourself, something that I have never done and it makes me wonder why I haven't! Because I absolutely love it.

    Gosh, this was a lovely/emotional post in parts and I think that is what is so cool about hiking, especially being on your own, you get a LOT of thinking time. Sometimes you think about painful things, but at least you are not bottling it all up.

    Can't wait to read about your next adventure!!

  9. That's right Claire. I took my iPod with me but decided not to use it and I was just contemplating and thinking. It was an emotional trip and yes, there will be more to come. I shall take the Doodologist tattoo with me next time! (I was supposed to go to the Grand Canyon this weekend with the German so I was reserving it for then but now that that fell through I shall take it someplace else ;-))

    @Maricris; just look for a similar place near you or just a state or national park, I'm sure you can find cool places where you live ;-)

    @MS; I considered getting a dog but the deposit to have a pet in my apartment is very expensive =(

  10. What a cool place to hike! I'm so glad you had a good time. As for the 'walking alone' part? Personally, I think that's a lot of bunk. It's fun to share cool experiences. Still, if you're going to do it, please stick to safe, often travelled paths. I don't want to have to worry about you!

  11. Hi Deray,

    I always go hiking alone. I do it to get some peace and quiet away from the family :-)

    I go walking in my part of England (Kent). We don't have mountains just hills but lots of intersting things to discover.

    I write about some of my walks on my blog.


  12. Yay for the taking the tattoo with you next time, it is almost like a little piece of me is accompanying you :) Whether you end up coming to the UK or I end up visiting you, we definitely have to go hiking!

  13. @Janene, yes mom! I'm not reckless and I would never put myself in danger. All the trails on Mt Lemmon are very well traveled, the mountain being the closest thing we have to get out of the desert ;-)

    @Glen, hills are ok for me! right now I just wanted to get out of the heat and the only way to do it is to go high on the mountain ;-)

    @Claire, we will! I don't know how but we will ;-)

  14. Very cool that you went hiking alone! I miss hiking, I don't go anywhere near as often as I would like to. There are a lot of trails around these parts, but they're not really out in the wild the same way they are on your side of the Atlantic. Here you are never more than a couple of miles from a road or a city, which kinda spoils the fun a bit, I think.

  15. Lovely little columbine there at the bottom and very pretty tranquil photos altogether. I'm glad you're continuing to do things you enjoy on your own. Eventually, they'll be a part of your regular activities and it won't even feel like you're alone.

  16. @Sami, I also go walking along a river bank near my house. There are houses all along but I still feel like I'm out in nature when I see the prairie dogs and lizards running away from me ;-).

    @Jenn, you are right! I actually got an annual pass to the mountain as I'm planning on going a lot more often, with or without people to go with me ;-)