Sunday, May 4, 2014

Arizona vacation with Mom: Mt. Lemmon

Apr 4 2013

The Coronado National Forest is one of Tucson’s gems. Drive to the northeast corner of the city on Catalina Highway and you run right into the mouth of Solder Canyon. Here the road changes name and starts switch-backing up the mountain range. The road ends some 30 miles later at a locked gate giving access to some transmission towers near the peak of Mt. Lemmon, having climbed from about 6500 ft. at the city’s edge to about 9000 ft at the gate. The journey involves leaving the Saguaro desert behind and traveling through several different habitats; first through oak forests which give way to pine forests which give way to fir forests.

And that’s exactly what we did.

We are still low enough to be in the desert but the
view of Tucson in great.
There’s plenty of turnouts along the way for taking in the view and getting a close look at the changing vegetation; and campgrounds too if you’re looking for a place to stay.

At about the 25 mile mark, if you take a side road down to the small community of Summerhaven and drive all the way to the end of the road, there’s a small park down there right alongside a stream in the bottom of Marshal Gulch. One of Mom’s wish list items for this trip was sitting beside a running stream. My daughter’s intimate knowledge of the area led us straight here.

Now we're starting to see some habitat changes as we
climb higher.
A bit further up the mountain the road passes under the Mt. Lemmon ski hill then finally peters out at that locked gate.

And along the way we're being watched over by the hoodoos.

The classic mountain view.
You can't see it because it's not my place to plaster her face
on the internet, but this is my favorite photo of the whole trip.
A face-on headshot of Mom as she comes back to the picnic
table after sitting alongside Marshal Creek for a while. She's
grinning from ear to ear between the dark green brim of her
Tilly hat (Which is a lot cleaner than mine!) and the fluffy
purple collar of her jacket with several out-of-focus fir
trees in the background framing everything.

Strolling in Marshal Gulch
The slopes of the Mt. Lemmon ski hill still have some
remnants of snow clinging to them.

And then it was time for the long glide back down the mountain.

There are numerous hiking opportunities all along the way but I think we used up a couple days of Mom’s hiking ration yesterday so we didn’t try any of them out this trip. Instead we coasted back down the mountain, grabbed some dinner and called it a day.

No comments:

Post a Comment