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Friday, June 25, 1999

I was so excited to be heading up to Mt Lemmon today. I love driving up the Catalina Highway and watching when it hits the mountains and the valley seems to just drop away. I drove from desert to alpine in an hour. It's suppose to be 105 degrees in Tucson today so I'm glad to get away.

I paid my entrance fee of $10.00. It's $5.00 per day or $10.00 for a week or $20.00 for a year and well worth it. One of my pet peeves are these people who will drop a couple hundred at Disneyland then bitch about a few bucks at a national park or national forest.

I got the campsite next to the first one I camped at with my children fourteen years ago. What a lot of time has passed since then. You still get just as dirty setting up the tent. The dirt has been pounded to a fine dust compounded of dirt and campfire soot. Filthy!

I then drive up to the ski lift and walk up the the top on the Aspen Draw trail. It is very steep and, since I don't handle heat or altitude well, at over 8000 feet I am breathing hard. I have to take it slow or I feel like I can't breathe in enough air. The same steepness in Tucson would have me breathing hard but not that bad. A level hike on Mt Lemmon would be fine. It takes me and hour and a half to get to the top and half an hour to come back down.

It is a beautiful hike that goes through pines and aspens with ferns on the ground. I love the way light comes through aspens and how they seem to just vibrate. In the fall they look like gold. There are some delicate flowers. It's so peaceful. At the first a runner passed me and that was all till I was nearly to the top. There are more people here since it comes out at the top of the ski lift, which probably runs more in the summer than the winter.

I go back to the campsite and just want to sit there. My thermarest has a leak so there goes my nice camp chair and my bed. I think I'll try to sleep in the car tonight since the ground is very hard. It's nice to sit back and enjoy the outdoors. The campsite is scarier than fourteen years ago. They have all the warnings about bears and metal cabinets to store food in and bear proof garbage cans.

More bears are around as they've learned to get food from people. A few years ago they had to relocate a mother and two cubs that were raiding campgrounds. I was camping when she came through once. She climbed in a van that had the window half open and was flinging food out the window. It turns out that some dip that lives up here was feeding the bears. The rangers have finally had to crack down as there aren't that many places to relocate them too. These are black bears, not grizzlies, but are still dangerous.

The campground seems much quieter now than it used to be. People don't blare music or have bright lights. There are still people that stay up late but still it's pleasant. I can see the moon coming up brightly now making shadows through the leaves.

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Hiked - 4 miles

Rachel Aschmann 1999.
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