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Lemmon Summit Loop, AZ
mini location map2014-03-08
30 by photographer avatarchumley
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Lemmon Summit Loop, AZ 
Lemmon Summit Loop, AZ
Backpack25.71 Miles 8,139 AEG
Backpack25.71 Miles2 Days         
8,139 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
1st trip
So it's been 3 months since I did an overnight backpack trip, which is waaaaay overdue. 9L and I had talked about it recently, and somewhere on Thursday or Friday we settled on Mt. Lemmon. Apparently I'm an idiot, because I agreed to this.

The first few miles up Romero Canyon were great, but as the elevation increased, I started to drag. At Romero Pass, I told 9L just to go ahead and I would meet him whenever I got there. I was moving at a snail's pace uphill. Perhaps as tired as I have ever been on a hike. The saving grace was the cool temperature and the stationary cloud that hovered overhead most of the time with the looming threat of rain. Luckily all the precipitation remained just to the east in the Rincons.

Once the climb was over, I really enjoyed the couple of miles in the Wilderness of Rocks. There was water in just about every creek crossing which was a pleasant surprise. I eventually reached the area we had decided to camp, and was happy 9L had taken the time to scope pick a spot.

We gathered a lot of firewood (there's plenty to be found with very little effort) in preparation for the cold night ahead. Before the sun set, we explored a couple of view points and cool rock formations nearby before settling in for dinner and fire. The wind picked up through the evening, and by the time we went to bed, it was gusting through the trees at an impressive speed. We had both carefully scoped our tent spots staying well clear of dead branches or trees that might fall in the wind. I woke up several times with the sound of the wind howling through the trees wondering if we shouldn't have camped out on the exposed rocks instead. :scared:

Morning was chilly, probably in the upper 30s, and continued crazy windy. We took our time with breakfast and packing up camp before making the final 2000 foot grind to the summit. The wind wasn't too bad in the sheltered gully the trail follows, but at the Lemmon Rock lookout, it was borderline dangerous and viciously cold and unpleasant. Needless to say, we didn't stay long. A short trip from the lookout we reached the summit where I managed to find the benchmark (Catalina 2 Reset) at the high-point. This is actually outside of the fenced-in restricted area, though I'm not certain what route would be best taken to get there legally.

The cold and wind were unpleasant, so we quickly headed down the Meadow Trail and joined the Mt. Lemmon trail heading down through the burn area. We had considered following Lemmon back to Romero and retracing our route back to the car, but instead decided to make a loop and take Sutherland back. I hesitate calling it a trail. Let's just say there was once a trail named Sutherland. Years ago.

This is a steep and relentless descent, and the miles and elevation from the past 36 hours took their toll on me. Route-finding was challenging, especially in the 2 miles along the main ridge after the power line turns from the trail (about half a mile below the Samaniego junction -- or mostly everything between 6700 and 7700 feet). There are a lot of boulders, and the trail has been lost to new growth. There are numerous cairns and some ribbons, so when we got lost, it was just a matter of back-tracking a bit and searching for the cairns. They were always there, just not always visible at first glance.

From there, the trail descends steeply, about 3000 feet in 3 miles, before joining a miserable, rocky old road for two more miles. It was no longer cold and windy, but instead hot, sunny, and sweaty. The turn back into the state park and onto smooth singletrack was extremely welcomed. Tired and in pain, we managed to make pretty good time over the last 2.6 miles, with great views of Pusch Ridge and the rest of the Catalinas, along with a nice crop of wildflowers.

Back at the car, I enjoyed a single Dales before snoozing home. Thanks to 9L for driving, and for suggesting this ridiculous hike to begin with. Not sure I'll ever hike Sutherland again. The rest maybe, but not sure about the weight of an overnight pack. That's a lot of miles and elevation in two days. Likely the toughest overnight I've ever done. I think I'm in worse shape than when Joe, Bob and Denny dragged me on a 21 mile and 8100 ft dayhike to Cheops that time...
 Fauna [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Horned Lizard
 Meteorology [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Ice
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
Nice blooms along lower Sutherland inside the state park.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cascade Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Light flow, with plenty of pooled water. Also covered with ice, but breakable.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Romero Pools Light flow Light flow
Light flow. Plenty of deep pools.
two scoops!
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