Denial can be a good thing.

I wasn’t quite ready to admit my vacation is almost over so I got up early to drive up Mount Lemmon to go for a hike today.
I decided to do the Marshall Gulch and Aspen Trail loop, for a total of 4.4 miles. (I actually logged 4.6 miles wandering around the bottom of the trailheads after I got back, but the official loop is 4.4.) I started with the Marshall Gulch trail, which mainly runs through ponderosa pine forest.
It was deliciously cool, and there was even a trickle of water in the gulch.
The trails also go through old burn areas from past wildfires. It was interesting to see the new growth against the old, burnt trunks.
There were even still some wildflowers around.
Hey, I think I can see my house from here!
It was wild to walk through such dense growth of young pines. Most of these were only 6-8′ tall.
This is on the Aspen Trail portion, which is largely lined with – you guessed it – aspens. I never knew we had such lush green pathways up on Mt. Lemmon. I’d always assumed it was mostly just the pines and scrub with some interesting rock formations. I didn’t take a ton of photos along this section because I was too busy enjoying it.
Obligatory self portrait. Yes, I actually hiked shirtless. I’m no Adonis, but it’s nice to finally have the self confidence to do that.

I think this is my new favorite local hike, though I’m toying with the idea of heading up the mountain every other weekend or so to explore a new (to me) trail. I can’t believe I’ve been in Tucson for this long and never actually done a hike up there. I’ve been up the mountain multiple times, but usually just a little day trip to have fudge or pie or something. And the last time I did that was years ago. Seems a shame to waste such a great resource just about an hour drive from my front door.

Also, super mega thanks to the guy who gave me a pen so I could fill out the forest service’s fee envelope to avoid a potential $80 ticket. There were no writing utensils at the fee box and apparently all the pens I which used to keep in my car have mysteriously disappeared.

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