In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Monday, February 12, 2007

2 weeks in AZ - Part 6

Mark was busy on Monday so I was on my own. I decided to leave early in the morning and headed up Mount Lemmon for a solo overnighter in the mountains. I parked the car, loaded the pack and hiked about 3 miles where I wound up next to a stream on the Wilderness of Rocks trail. It's amazing how the landscape changes in such a short distance. Just an hour earlier I was in Tucson at about 2500 feet where the high was supposed to be in the 80's and it was a desert. Next thing I know I'm 8000 feet up in the mountains where there is still some snow on the ground and I'm surrounded by towering trees with picturesque streams running down small canyons.

After I reached my campsite it was about mid-afternoon and I had to decide what to do. I thought about leaving most of my gear and hiking a little farther to see some sites; but instead decided to climb up on one of those large rocks looking out over Tucson, spread out a blanket, laid in the sun, and took a nap. It was the perfect temperature there in the sun and it was a very nice nap. I woke up and poked around taking some pictures, which is how I found this little guy

I'm not sure what kid of cactus it was, maybe someone can tell me. It was pretty short, only a few inches tall.

After dinging around a little I watched the sunset before heading back to camp to cook some food and get some sleep.

The next day I got up and hiked back to the car where I drove a few miles to the ranger station and met up with Mark, his brother, sister in-law and friend Jack. The plan was to drive a couple miles up the road to the trailhead of the Butterfly trail and then we'd hike back down to the ranger station where one of the extra cars would be waiting to be used as a shuttle. It seemed pretty obvious that since we were driving UP the mountain to the trailhead that the hike should be mostly DOWN hill. It must have been an omen when we read the sign at the trailhead and it showed downhill for about 2.5 miles (5 miles or so total) and then an even steeper UPHILL for the last leg of the hike. We were undaunted and hit the trail.

Omen number two came when Marks brother started asking me about my new GPS. We talked about GPS units in general a while and he said that although he has one loaded on his laptop for traveling that a portable GPS wasn't really needed here in the mountains since you always had so many points of reference and what not. I'd say it was about 20 minutes later that we all found ourselves standing around a topo map not only trying to figure out where we were, but where the trail was. You see, it had disappeared about 15 minutes before that and we bushwhacked this far before regrouping. In our defense in the last couple years this mountain had first experienced a fire followed by a very large flood, bringing down lots of trees, causing lots of erosion, and greatly changing the look of the place.

There was some disagreement about just where we were, how far we'd come, where we needed to go, and whether or not we should continue on to try and re-find the trail or go back the way we came. We first decided to continue on and in another 20 minutes or so abandoned that thought and started picking our way back from where we started. I wish I would have had my little P&S along for some video. A video of us trying to figure out where to go would have been much more entertaining then this still shot.

Obviously we made it back safely and after going back to Marks that night and taking every ones money at poker (again) it was time for me to move along on my little journey.

The Road Home

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You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.