Mt. Lemmon experiments and Green Mountain Trail: Part I

2014-06-12

The purpose of this trip is to try out my new bivy bag and experiment with tarp shelters and guy-lines. I have some purchases to make and I need to get better information. Also, I need to study and this would afford me time and solitude for that. It also would be nice to get out of the June heat and into the refuge of the pines trees at 9000 feet.

The ultra-light weight can open up many new opportunities for stealth camping and hiking freely in more remote areas. Eight to fifteen pounds is an entirely different experience from an old 45 pound rig filled with comforts on my back.

I don’t know where I am headed really, just Mt Lemmon. There was a trail at 7000 ft. and a camping area at around 9000ft. All along the way up here, I have been looking for spots where I might be able to camp and then hike just out of sight of the beaten path, checking terrain, vegetation and possibilities of water.

This is always a beautiful drive. I had to stop with another motorist facing me in the other direction, to allow the safe road crossing of a young coatimundi, a very unusual delightful sight.

Mt. Lemmon is always a busy place in June as people escape the heat. I am counting on it being Thursday to increase the elbow room.

I drive off of the highway onto the dirt road and through the forest looking for a site. At the least, I figure that I might find a way to set up the truck, camp and put my chair with my back to the “crowds,” which would arrange some stealth naturist privacy.

I spot a difficult to drive up spot, which has a fallen tree on the ridge point. It might just block the view from the road with the visual angles. When I get there, I notice that there is also a road leading further back into the forest.

Taking a short walk, I find that this deteriorates into a difficult, probably 4×4 situation.

This is not maintained as a road. Things are looking up.

This Jeep trail leads through to a clearing that could handle multiple campers, but on the way there, I find a spot surrounded by young trees. It is like a small grove and fairly level. The ground is covered in deep virgin pine needles, which would be a soft cushion to sleep on.

I have been given solitude and the trees that I need to attach ropes to in multiple configurations.

As I set up, I begin to think about bears, as I would be sleeping out in the open alone. What about access to the tomahawk? After these thoughts revisited me later in the evening, I put a perimeter of small dry branches around the site to give me warning of any intruders.

Despite my concerns, the lovely jewel of a camp is wonderful. The day is still warm, the breeze is constantly heard in the various pine tree’s needles. They smell good. At first, I had felt a chill, but I am camped with a fine windbreak, using the truck and those young pine trees. I soon discover that this is the case in most of the area and the stronger winds blow well above me deflected in the treetops.

As I get something out of the SUV, I se the shadow of a large bird above. I look up to see a flock of buzzards overhead, not very high. I speak, “I ain’t dead yet” and chuckle. I still wish them away, as my thoughts turn to being hit by a buzzard bomb.

Touring the Neighborhood:

I decide to take my naked self on a tour the neighborhood. The seclusion in this area that I am in can be deceiving. Just over a hill there might be a camper, or a highway. It is all very much up or down steep hills.

Venturing into the forest, I find two old Forest Service roads that had been blocked off long ago. I then climb to the top of the steep hill next to these. I find myself looking down more than a mile of elevation at the city of Tucson in the valley below. It is as if flying in an airplane. More immediately is the Mt. Lemmon Highway. I know that I find no one in this direction, but me.

Tucson’s Eastside 6500 Feet Below

I see a marked intersection below me which has a street sign. I sneak down the steep hill, hiding behind trees, or squatting, so that passing motorists can’t tell that I am nude, if they happen to look.  I need to be near the road, so as to be able to read the sign. I also want to see if the mobile phone will work. For emergencies, I need a point of reference where I can tell loved ones where I am camped. I feel out of place, so near to passing traffic. This reconnoiter feels kind of fun, kind of scary and a bit extra naked, as I smuggle myself carefully along. With both errands accomplished, I return to camp.

Back at my camp, I experiment with the guy-lines and an 8×10 foot plastic tarp in various configurations for shelter. I have been in self supported dome tents for decades. I am rusty at his at best, but generally this is a new learning experience.

It would seem that a 9x9ft. tarp would make for a flexible effective rain shelter, or easily rearranged into a spacious lean-to for shade.

I want to be sure that the expense of a camping tarp would be justified. Those several young trees have become very useful.

Discovering the Rest of the Neighborhood:

Next, I think that I should explore the rest of the neighborhood to detect others that might stumble upon my stealth naturism. In this direction, I take along my bath wrap, just in case. I put it on my shoulder to comfort from the camera and water bottle straps.

I climb through some thicker vegetation and into a pine needle litter area. The acid from the pines keeps other vegetation away. Where it is thick it is slippery, where the debris is thin there is erosion. The activity of campers has kicked the mulch of it to the side in places. The effect is more barren and I am exposed.

I make my way to the crest of the nearby hill next to the dirt road. There is a large log, an old fallen ponderosa pine, to use to hide me. I peer over, not expecting anything, but I am shocked. Six vehicles are parked on the other side of the road. They are practically neighbors!

I use the ridge as a line of cover, continuing on uphill. Ascending less than 100 yards, I see a bright color on top of the hill. I squint and creep closer to make it out. It is a bicycle, AND a chair next to it. The chair is used to observe out across the vista that must be up there. I’ll find no privacy in this area either.

I turn back, heading to the place where I originally pulled off of the road. I now find a new camper up the hill on the other side of me. He is unpacking, but busy, not paying attention in my direction.

I retreat back down the bad road to my sheltered camp and then decide to go back toward the Mt. Lemmon Highway to explore. I see what looks to be new tire tracks over mine. I am stopped dead in my own tracks and have to turn around. Apparently, another truck has driven in, while I was away from camp. There it sits, as they unpack! They are looking for privacy and just over a ridge out of the larger open area. Having been this way earlier, I know that I could be heard using the side of the hill hidden from them and they have a dog.

Oh well, with all of these people around, I figure that my bear visit concerns are unlikely to occur. That night, not far away, I do hear a wildcat grrr-owl.

Evening Coming:

With the sun behind the trees, the air begins to get much cooler. I make a warm miso soup concoction on the small camping stove, using the windbreak of one of the shelters that I have made. As I am eating this dinner, the couple that had driven past me and then further in, while I was away, are out with their dog. The dog comes inspecting around 100 feet from my spot. I then hear them and they call their dog back. I figure that they respect privacy. They parked away from others as much as they could, too. I don’t have to cover up, or act surprised if found nude in the privacy of my camp, simply because of their considerate scruples.

It seems that most campers set up camp and then just sit there around it. They aren’t prone to wandering, but in the immediate locale. Unless they are with kids, or dogs, or they are kids, they stay away from other campsites.

I chose the best option and know my circumstance, so not to get caught with my pants down, so to speak. That’s part of the game.

It is now cold out and I sit dressed in warm clothing, massaging my feet with bag balm. The sun illuminates the tallest tree tops and then it is gone. The dusk is a rich deep blue.

I suddenly notice a white light beaming on these same trees. It is the full moon arising and bringing its brightness. It will never really get dark this night.

As I awake into dawn, I roll over to see if the moon is still around. It is now a great ball of yellow, sinking, as the sun brightens a new day. At 9000 ft. I am watching this full bright moon set well below me in the distance, through the trees. I can’t remember ever seeing that.

I have had concerns about being out in the open. This is unusual, because I sleep outside at home on the desert regularly with confidence. The irrational is confusing. Perhaps it is the strange surroundings. Perhaps it is the influence of such a moon.

Getting Acquainted With the Bivy:

I need to see how warm it is in the new bivy. I will try it without clothing, or sleeping bag, then with clothing and no sleeping bag. Finally, I’ll try both clothing and a sleeping bag. Not having to lug the extra three pound sleeping bag backpacking would make a great difference. Sometimes, possibly, I could leave it at home, or in the truck.

I climb into the sleeping bag with an Earthing blanket arrangement first. Very quickly, I feel a terrific womby effect. No, not like Elmer Fudd saying roomy. It feels like a womb. I am transported into the most secure peaceful state. From my spot with a net over my face, I watch the sky and trees; I smell the air and then drift off to sleep.

Later, I awake to watch another faze of the night from my nest and then drifted off again. I do this several times, letting go of the pressures of home and resting for twelve hours!

I bought the longer larger size bivy. I soon discover that by sliding down so the non-meshed part covers my nose and mouth as I breathe, I help heat the bag interior. The next humiliating discovery is that if I don’t brush my teeth before crawling in, something more that heat would accumulate in the bag. The bug screen against my face is no problem. I lay on my side generally and it never bothers my face. There is enough room to place glasses and a flashlight without crushing them. Wonderful.

On a dry night in Arizona, heating the bag with my breath worked practically. I have since discovered that in most places, the breathing will cause humidity to be trapped in the water tight bag and condensation will create a chill.

The next morning, I go for a walk clothed, down to the highway and along it for about a quarter of a mile. Confirming my suspicion, I discover that my old favorite trek is actually nearby. I check it out for a suitable camping spot.

I return to camp to disrobe, eat and get the day on.

Green Mountain Trail, very soon.

 

 

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