This is Part 2 of the backpacking trip to Lemmon Pools, in the Wilderness of rocks. I suggest reading Part 1 first at: https://thefreerangenaturist.org/2016/08/09/wilderness-of-rocks-trail-part-i-a-trip-report/
We awaken with no hurry. The place is heavenly. Birds are singing, the sun is in our eyes. The shade will be back pretty soon. We wander off into two directions for privacy and to imbibe solitude. We acquaint with the wondrous environment. DF finds a patch to begin her Chi Gong near a twisted tree. I find a latrine and explore a path to nowhere in particular. There, I discover where a large animal has laid down, flattening a patch of tall grass, at one time.
I end up sitting on a large flat rock that DF had used for a kitchen the night before. It slopes just right, toward the stream. I sit crossing my legs and brush my teeth. This changes to observation and gratitude. Quickly, pleasant observation comes into just being. At some point, eyes close. There is the sound of DF making her way to the stream course. Each step is different. A stable rock, to a patch of sand, an unstable rock moves, a pile of debris, all different as she walks around me.
We bathe in the stream, and then find ourselves back in our shady bed, on our backs, holding hands, staring at what happens above.
There is no hurry.
This is wonderful and we can meet our other goals at another time. A plan is ordered. We can make another trip, or two. We can come here for a base. We can take the day that is needed to explore the other pools down the canyon of boulders, skinny-dipping, laying on rocks in the sun, and snacking. We can take a few hours without the packs to day hike the rest of Wilderness of Rocks proper. It has its hoodoos, as it wanders through the forest of monuments. We can do all of this freely nude.
Today, we will take our time. We will exercise up the hill and stop for longer breaks and photo opts.
Breakfast is a large cup of oatmeal. The dehydrated bananas melt into the heated mass. This is stuffed with strawberries and cinnamon.
By noon, we are nearly ready to go. I’m getting antsy, but we stop to hang out and have a nice cup of tea and soak in the natural waters. The water hasn’t had its dose of sunshine yet, the shade needs to move and it is still cooler than last evening. We finally wander off at 1:00pm.
Our first wander has us investigating a ridge where we saw two others scrambling to the trail, the day before. It leads up to a lookout of the City of Tucson, just as we suspected.
The next time, we can take our flashlights to guide us and sit and watch the city lights stretch out, as the nightlife comes alive, far below in the valley. To the west, we recognize a balancing bolder from our exploration the day before. This is a shortcut and a much easier route to the pools.
We snake through now familiar formations and patches of forest. The vistas amaze us, as we take shots of mass and rock shapes. We are resolved to return and spend more time. How could we have known that this surprise, this magical nude playground, is so incredible and waiting for us here.
This is Monday, the weekend is over. By 1:00pm, no one has come by. We are not likely to have an encounter. We have all clothing packed away. I don’t expect, but a slight chance of finding any fellows. Maybe, when we are closer to the trailhead, some may appear. We know where the water is, so we lighten our loads by carrying less. We can always stop, resting by a beautiful stream and filter more.
The meandering trail goes up and down, gradually rising in elevation. I want to train, getting some aerobic exercise and breath hard. This elevation is hard on DF. She lags behind. She assures me that she is doing her best. She seems to be at a strolls pace, with lots of photo breaks. There is an accumulation of pictures of me, with my bare butt on the trail ahead. I stand and wait a lot. This makes my pack feel heavier, in time. She tells me that she is feeling sick and needs to research altitude sickness.
I search my mind for other solutions and causes. My experience in the Andes told me that that the sickness is gone after 24 hours. I wish that we had some Mate de Coca, the sure cure, but not in America, with its confused political drug laws. Still, her symptoms are like those of altitude. I continue to ponder in sympathy and frustration. Getting ahead on the trail, I find several places next to the stream to stop and wait. There is less good exercise, but wow, how bad is it to sit on a rock next to a stream in the shade, naked and alone in a piece of paradise.
Speaking of naked, we have not encountered anyone. We are past the trail intersection. Monday is working out fine. The plan is to cover genitals, if anyone meets us, which complies with the law. We know that 98% of the time they would not be alarmed and we don’t want to be constrained out here. The notion seems silly. What “reasonable” person would object?
I find that I could use a refill of my bottle. We are at a stream crossing. There is a pleasant pool about 30 feet away. I hear voices. A dog suddenly wanders down the trail to us and then turns back. We head towards the pool through the streambed and some large bushes. We hear the sound of a small boy’s voice. My knee jerk reaction is to hide from people with children. They are sometimes protective, reacting in ignorance and irrational fears. While we watch in plain sight, the dog, boy and dad march down, crossing the stream. We begin to move and then stop, as we watch a small girl and her mother, carrying a baby in a sling in her arms, make their way. It is around 3:30 in the afternoon, a strenuous trail back up and these people are heading down further with small children! We wish them the best of luck. We sit and rest. This surprise will be the last, until we are near the trailhead.
We recognize the fire lookout building very high above us, on a cliff.
It gives us bearings and knowledge of the distance that we have left to travel, before the saddle. We are at over 9000 feet. We hear a swarm of bees, but none in sight. Along the trail, where it freezes and snow packs, we find a horned toad.
Amazed, and delighted, we remember a friend’s silly joke the week before and laugh. We have communicated by the glance of each other’s eyes. The toad goes ribbit, the horny toad goes rubbit.
Not far from the trailhead, we stop to take a rest and eat.
DF has reminded me that we don’t want to get back down in the valley while it is still afternoon, hot, and rush hour. She has still been enduring her sickness and I have slowed. I know that we have all of the daylight that we need and our progress is now predictable. There is another benefit. It is Monday and at the later hour, day-hikers are less likely to be about. We have stripped completely at this rest and meal. I dig out my kilt to carry in my hand, ready for the potential of appropriate measures, on the Marshall Gulch Trail.
I tell DF that she has hardly eaten today. She has eaten the same, but much less than me. A full stomach helps altitude and seasick nausea. She had rehydrated the refried black beans and spicy hummus earlier in a baggie. We wrap this in whole-wheat tortillas. I make an extra one and hound her to share it with me. I want to try to fill her up. The food does the trick.
This rock is under a shade tree overlooking a grand vista, far in the distance.
The wind is strong, but here, we have enough windbreak to make it pleasant. We spend some time. There is no urgency. I dream of a tall coca cola, with its chilly bubbles and caffeine. I’m tired and my feet are feeling worn-out again. As we are taking pictures and enjoying this place, a great white hawk lands on a dead tree close to us. It rests long enough to pose for my camera, then it alights, catching the winds that flow up the mountainside, so strongly.
We encounter a couple beginning the trail, as we see the saddle ahead.
I wrap the kilt, DF drops the hem of her sundress. It is much warmer under the kilt. DF and I resolve to get me a lighter wrap.
We crest, and very soon come to a friendly couple with two not so friendly dogs. They are resting on a log. We smile and pass through into Marshall Gulch. I notice them following behind and catching up. At the base of the switchback, my kilt is being held around my waist by my hand and we sit on a log and wait to let them pass. They ask us where we have been and is it nice, then move on. When they are out of sight, liberation comes to me. With kilt in hand, and DF’s dress at her waist, we see no one for the length of the marvelous trail.
We enjoy one of the most popular crowded trails in the Catalinas, all to ourselves and I’m happily comfortably nude.
Close to the trailhead, a teenaged couple walks past us in greeting. My feet hurt, my body is in concurrence with them. The loud unnatural voice of cars leaving the parking lot and unnecessarily loud voices harkens me to cover fully for civilization.
We make it to the store within 10 minutes of closing for a bubbly Dr. Pepper. The winding drive down the mountain is gorgeous as always. At this time, the shadows are distinct and the setting sun is coloring the hoodoos.
DF’s symptoms strongly suggest hyponatremia — insufficient sodium in the blood. Your description of breakfast on your second (and mostly uphill) day suggests that the food, although healthful, may not have included enough sodium for the proper absorption of water during a strenuous hike. Having experienced an incapacitating and nearly fatal episode of hyponatremia while miles off trail in the Grand Canyon, I’m a believer in always carrying packets of table salt or a baggie of Gatorade powder — enough to make two liters per day. Even if you don’t have Gatorade (or a non-sugared equivalent if you prefer), ordinary table salt can do the trick in an emergency. In my case, although I had developed nausea, had cramps in my legs and torso, could no longer stand up straight or walk, and could get no benefit from drinking more water, I had the presence of mind to lick all the salt off a whole packet of Planter’s peanuts while lying in a bit of shade under a rock ledge, wondering if I’d die there. Fifteen or twenty minutes later it was as if I’d never had any of those symptoms, and I shouldered my pack and went on my way. Here’s a quick field test for hyponatremia: Most people don’t ordinarily enjoy eating a heaping teaspoon of pure table salt, but salt-deficient folks find it delicious, and it can bring them back to normal (able to walk upright again without cramps, and to absorb the water they drink) in as little as ten minutes. Our bodies seem to know what they need. If salt doesn’t taste particularly good, the problem may be something else.
I enjoy your trip reports. Gotta get up there on those trails again myself!