Lead this trip for the ABC. Had a great group of backpackers to hike with! Saw my first ringtail, survived hiking out with a sprained ankle, and had a generally fabulous time.
Friday night, Tyler shuttled us up to the top of Mt. Lemmon where we camped along the Meadow Trail at the top of the mountain. Saturday morning, we headed back to the Mt. Lemmon Trail and turned onto the Lemmon Rock Trail. We had great views as we switchbacked down to the Wilderness of Rocks Trail. I hadn't ever been on Lemmon Rock Trail and was pleasantly surprised that it was in such good condition. We turned right onto the Wilderness of Rocks trail and followed the cairns through the bouldery goodness, making a side trip to see Lemmon Pools. We got back on the Mt. Lemmon trail and started to make our way south to Romero Pass.
I hadn't been on this part of Mt. Lemmon Trail either. I actually really liked this section. The northern exposure made the vegetation a bit lusher(if that's a word) and we were sheltered momentarily from the sun. We got to the steep switchbacks leading down to the Pass and enjoyed views of Cathedral Rock, West Fork and Romero. That was a pretty brutal decent, but there was virtually no way-finding needed. We hit the Pass and after a quick break, we started down the West Fork trail. This was the one section of trail that was showing a lot of overgrowth. The grasses were also a huge pain. Seeds in everyone's shoes and socks made us want to get to Hutch's as quick as possible. So, we started cruisin' down the trail.
About 1.5 miles from Hutch's I turned my ankle, but managed to walk it off. Okay... kept going. About 1 mile from Hutch's, my trekking pole collapsed as I put pressure on it, and my ankle gave up on me. I haven't had a sprained ankle in forever! I forgot how much it pumpkin hurts. As the rest of the group trouped ahead to set up camp, I hobbled down the trail and finally made it to camp. That cold water never felt so good. How lucky to be near some cold water to soak a quickly swelling ankle! In fact, luck would continue in the form of ICE. Ivanka was checking out the little falls at the top of the pool and she stumbled upon someone's discarded beer-cooling, Iced-tea chilling, lovely, cold and soothing ice. Awesome.
So, I spent the rest of the evening supremely happy with a scarf full of ice tied around my ankle, a couple of vitamin I in my tummy, and a cup or two of wine to enjoy while star gazing. There were quite a few shooting stars! The people in my group were soooo nice, helping me set up my hammock and get dinner ready. I will definitely be sure to repay the favor if the tables are ever turned!
The rest of the evening went well, with just a slight setback when a bunch of nearly boiling water meant for hot chocolate ended up all over Mark. Again, the proximity of Hutch's was quite a gift. He ended up just slightly pink, no permanent damage except to the camera that was in his pocket when he launched himself into the pool. After that excitement, we settled in to sleep at around 10pm.
It was a very peaceful night... until the ringtail showed up. He woke me up as he was trying to help himself to Jason and my food. We had hung the bag in a nearby tree, but it was too close to the branch, so he had simply jumped down onto the top of the bags. There, he must have decided that the best approach was to chew through the line holding the bags, and he sure was trying. I, of course, took the time to capture the moment in a couple of photos before yelling(had no effect) and unsuccessfully trying to find a rock to through at him. I was having trouble moving around, so I woke up Jason and he had to get up and scare the little bugger away. He then adjusted the the bag so the ringtail couldn't jump onto the bags as easily. Then we gathered a few smaller rocks that I could use to scare the thief away if he decided to try again. I'm sure I would have been a very accurate shot, half asleep and hobbling around on a sprained ankle. However, I didn't get the chance to try. The rest of the night was undisturbed. Snore.
Sunday morning, my ankle was feeling a tiny bit better, and one of the guys had tape to stabilize it. I checked out the rope that had held up our food bags and couldn't tell where any chewing had occurred... go amsteel! So, after a nice breakfast, we headed out to meet the hot sun in Sabino Canyon. The hike out actually went pretty well for me. The tape really made a huge difference with my ankle. A few of us made it out within 2 hours and we sat at Tram Stop #9 and waited for the rest of the crew. And waited, and waited. Uh oh... we figured that something had gone wrong with one of the other 2 guys we were still waiting for. Yup, the guy who had a couple of hours earlier taped up my ankle, had just sprained his ankle and was a whole lot worse off than me. A few people headed up to take his pack (which was larger than me!), and we finally all made it down just as the tram was pulling up. We loaded onto the tram next to the heavily perfumed tourists and headed to our cars at the Visitor Center. Good times, and no damage we couldn't heal