Arizona Trail – Day 7 (26 + 6 miles to Cathedral Rock = 32 miles)
I was in Sabino Canyon with free-flowing water, hardwood trees and the rest of the animal life that goes along with the need for water.
I got up and started the 5,00ft (1,500m) climb to summit Mt Lemmon. I wandered up the canyon and followed a wonderful creek before eventually turning off to head up the side of the mountain.
Here it became rather steep, and I did not remember it being so bad when I walked through here last fall. After 40 minutes the path continued above the saddle I remembered taking a break on. I looked at my maps and had in fact taken the wrong trail. Damn! I have climbed just under 2,000ft as well!
I was 2/3 of the way up to Cathedral Rock. I thought I would be a bit short on water but may as well summit this side peak with the effort I already put in. So I continued up. The path eventually disappeared and turned into a final rock scramble to the summit. It had an epic 360-degree view and looked straight down onto Tuscon.
With that unplanned adventure out of the way, I ran down the steep trail back to the one I should have taken up the first time. It was another big climb that my body just was not ready for and by the time I had reached the top I was exhausted.
Mt Lemmon is a rather interesting mountain as well. Going up it transformed quickly from the lush canyon to exposed rock boulders and cliffs everywhere. Some of them looked pretty good to go climbing on! Then the mountain changed for a third time to a canopy of ponderosa pines that provided some much-needed shade.
21 miles and 7,500ft elevation gain by 1 pm left me sitting at Summerhaven’s General Store eating 2 pints of ice cream, a family packet of chips, two oranges and a banana. Oh, and homemade fudge!
I stayed at the store for a couple of hours before I hit the trail for the descent back down to the valley. I took Oracle Ridge down and the path was even steeper than the assent. I ran quite a few of the downs but, unfortunately for me, there were a few climbs that I had to do with my tired legs.
Night came on and I scared some cows away to set up camp on a nice flat bit of ground.