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Mt. Lemmon Day Hike
July 28, 2018
by Tom Simonick
Carl’s    GPS Map 
Jim’s GPS Map
Jim’s Elevation
Fifteen Trailblazers, all together. [photo by Tom]
front row:  Michael, Jim, Monika, Tamar, Terry, Rebecca
back row: Carl, Lin, Biljana, Li, Janet, Dave, Emma, Darrell, Jade
At least the highway is paved. [photo by Lin]
In a big change from hiking near Flagstaff or on the Rim, fifteen club members and one guest drove south to Tucson and then up to the top of Mount Lemmon for a full day of hiking that included great views of the city and surrounding desert, as well as amazing rock formations and pine forests.

After meeting up in Tucson and driving an hour up Mount Lemmon and dropping two cars off in Marshall Gulch, our hike began at the Lemmon Trailhead on Radio Ridge around 9:40 AM. The temperature was around 67° F, a nice break from the 100+° F in Tucson. After final administration tasks and gearing up, Michael led the hike from where we parked to the actual start of the Lemmon Trail.

Why there are two “M”s in Lemmon. [photo by Li]
Michael [photo by Li]
Janet and Rebecca [photo by Tom]

It’s important when starting a hike to find the correct trail! We took an awesome group picture, and then some people walked a short distance south to the edge of the mountain for a great view below and a preview of our route.

This one is on the rocks. [photo by Li]
A tree with a magnificent view! [photo by Lin]
Merrily, merrily, down the trail we go. [photo by Li]
Tamar has it figured out. [photo by Li]
Carl has it figured out. [photo by Li]

At 10:30 we were ready to begin the 2000-foot descent.

Let’s get organized. [photo by Tom]
The first of many fine views. [photo by Lin]

The Lemmon trail began to descend immediately following the Pusch Ridge with fine views to the west and south, and even in the hazy air you could spot Mt. Wrightson (9456 ft.) to the south. Initially we passed through ferns and flowers, which quickly turned to wildflowers and granite formations winding down the ridge.

The ferns are almost as tall as us. [photo by Lin]

After hiking about 1.87 miles, we were at the old junction with the Arizona Trail before it was re-routed through the Wilderness of Rocks and Summerhaven.

The trail goes steeply downhill here. [photo by Tom]
Biljana advances on the rocks. [photo by Lin]
The golden columbine grows here. [photo by Lin]
Wildflowers grace our passage. [photo by Lin]
Watch your step on those rocks. [photo by Lin]
Jim approaches Pusch Ridge. [photo by Lin]
Walking sideways on the slope. [photo by Lin]
Balanced rock. [photo by Darrell]

Around noon, and having hiked 4.5 miles, we came to the Wilderness of Rocks trail junction that would take us east. Looking for a shady lunch spot, the group split up with some going south a minute or two to some shade, while other continued about 0.2 miles to large trees and massive granite outcropping with great views stretching from west to east.

We found a good lunch spot. [photo by Li]
How about this boulder for a group picture? [photo by Janet]
Monika [photo by Li]
Darrell [photo by Li]

After lunch the entire party reformed and we headed east through the Wilderness of Rocks towards Marshall Saddle. We began with a short, but steep descent, crossed a slightly damp rivulet and then started working our way around the amazing granite formations

The rocks form a pinnacle. [photo by Li]
Tom knows the way. [photo by Li]

The temperature and humidity had noticeably increased by this time of the day affecting everyone and contributing to the group beginning to spread out.

Michael and Janet [photo by Tom]
Bright trail, dark rocks. [photo by Tom]
The trail get steep. [photo by Tom]
Let them catch up. [photo by Tom]

This was the time to begin using our radios so that front, middle and rear groups could estimate how much time were between them. The hike leader was concerned about losing hikers in the labyrinthine Wilderness, so the front group of hikers occasionally stopped permitting everyone to catch up.

The Wilderness trail runs four miles from the Lemmon trail junction to Marshall Saddle, but with the temperature and humidity, it seemed much longer. We did get the opportunity to get hats, shirts, and cool-cloths wet from the creek that meanders through that latter part of the Wilderness and our short breaks became more frequent.

Coneflowers bloom by the water. [photo by Janet]
Janet [photo by Li]
Rebecca [photo by Lin]
The girls take a break. [photo by Janet]

After leaving the Wilderness, the trail continued upwards towards Marshall Gulch.

The faster hikers reached Marshall Gulch to find one of the two vehicles we left there being cited and towed! After a hurried and impassioned negotiation, the tow truck driver released our member’s truck and we all learned a valuable and expensive lesson on where not to park, no matter whether it is signed our not. The last of us reached the trailhead around 5:30, along with the sounds of distant thunder, but no rain.

After shuttling drivers to their cars on Radio Ridge, some people headed back to Phoenix, while ten of us had dinner at the Sawmill Run restaurant in Summerhaven

Dinner, before we go home. [photo by Terry]

After a long and mostly enjoyable day of hiking, the meal was a little disappointing, but the company and conversation made up for the restaurant’s deficiencies. After that, the Phoenix carpool made the long drive back to Phoenix, while seven of us returned to our rental house in Tucson for a swim.

The hike lasted about 7.5 hours and covered around 11 miles. See Jim’s stats.

→   More pictures, by Tom
→   More pictures, by Li
→   More pictures, by Lin

Supplemental Report
by Jim Buyens

Once again it was great seeing you all and hiking together on another magnificent adventure. It certainly seemed there were new and different experiences for everyone. And Tom, thanks again for the wonderful job you did leading your first hike! Take my word, from here it only gets easier and more rewarding.

This turned out to be a tougher hike than I (and I suspect some others) expected, and at times I was definitely thinking, “Never again!” But the good parts and the sense of achievement are proving much more memorable than any negatives and I’m sure that’ll continue. As always, the value of a thing is measured by the difficulty of achieving it.

Happy trails and see you next time.


Jim’s Hike Statistics
Total Distance:11.3miles
Starting Time:10:01AM
Moving Time:6:52hrs:min
Stopped Time:0:43hrs:min
Finishing Time:5:37PM
Avg. Speed Moving:1.6mph
Avg. Speed Overall:1.5mph
Starting Elevation:9,080ft
Finishing Elevation:7,462ft
Minimum Elevation:7,006ft
Maximum Elevation:9,092ft
Total Ascent:1,806ft
Total Descent:1,806ft
Starting Temperature:66°
High Temperature:80°
Finishing Temperature: 67°

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Arizona Trailblazers Hiking Club, Phoenix, Arizona
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updated August 4, 2018