It is great weather up here. We’re camped up near Lemmon Pools in the Catalina Mountains. We have all day to explore the Wilderness of Rocks Trail. We can go beyond the farthest point that we have hiked, so far. We can go to the trail’s end and then as far as may be interesting on the intersecting trail.
We plan to be back for a noon lunch, so DF takes only a few grapes to snack. With the shorter distance and it being only 9am, we figure that we only need a liter water bottle and a camera each. The plan is to wear only moccasin-like toe shoes in a sense of complete nudity and unencumbered freedom. Our nakedness here in the wilderness feels very good.
I figure that most people travel on the previous loop trail, or go to the Lemmon Pools. We have never seen but a few people pass by on the trail when camping near it. This trail is in an even more remote area.
With a sense of bare natural freedom, we walk away from everything to the main trail. We expect a trove of scenic surprises and a very few people, if anybody…we don’t know it now, but surprises will abound.
I had awakened at sunrise, sitting up grabbing my camera and capturing silhouettes and rich orange clouds. This place is a bit surreal with its rock surfaces, hills and hoodoos. I easily fall back into sleep.
The morning starts as we hear the order, “Follow me,” with a body crashing through the brush. An amply dressed older man appears to be on a mission. As we are wrapping up breakfast , his bright florescent orange gators are quite a contrast, as he continues to plow through the brush. He soon is followed by two grown children, a boy and girl. We say, “Hello,” but they are oblivious to our presence in their haste, focus and trampling conquest of natural forces.
They are heading to the Lemmon Pools. I slip down the big sheet of bedrock granite in pursuit. I’m still barefoot all over. We decided to stay that way. Naturist freedom is, after all, a major reason to be here.
I follow them, which leads me to a trail along more rock, pines and manzanita brush. There is a wall on my left. To my right is a drop into the creek’s canyon, which is filled with fallen boulders.
When I catch up, his two children are dutifully hanging a hammock camp on the trees, I figure upon the older man’s orders. This does look like a fine campsite.
I voice a question, “Are the Lemmon Pools this way?”
I’m startled by a shriek and jump!
The daughter apologizes and explains, “Oh, I thought that you we’re my Dad.”
Her brother jumped at her shriek, as well as I.
Now calmer, composed, she politely points, “It’s just back there and to the left.”
Her brother asks why she shrieked.
Again, I hear, “I thought that it was Dad.”
I’m thinking that there is a flaw in that family dynamic, the dad.
I investigate and the route is as steep as I had heard, but also, looking very ragged and slippery. I now know my way, but for now, DF and I have other plans.
As I return to camp, I notice that the puddles in the surface pocks in the rock have dried up overnight. The air is nice and dry, with few clouds. There is a slight chance of thunder storms predicted in the afternoon, just like yesterday. We’ll see how things turn out.
After we laid down in the cozy tent, there had been voices in the night,. Over at the grove of pine trees, the loud campers had come to look at the city lights. Up here a mile and a half higher than the city below to the south, it is a notable sight. The grid of bright colors contrasts with the dark night, glowing and sparkling as it fans out across the valley. The sight looks as if sitting in an aircraft, but it is calm and quiet, looking out from these rocks. We could be floating nude on a carpet in the sky.
This morning, I’m looking out across the canyon out to the west at multitudes of hoodoos and formations.
This is going to be fun.
I expect solitude in the wonderland.
Already, I feel the freedom as I am looking out at wilderness with the elements touching me. I feel alive all over.
We make our way through the trail-side campsites. Tall soft ferns in the cool shadows tickle our nude bodies from head to foot.
We cross the creek and then, head up out of the tall trees into the fields of boulders.
The trail is at times just a groove in the rock, other times we must follow several cairns across a granite field where no treading could ever make a track.
We meander up and down, watching our step and stopping to take yet another photo, after photos of these unusual formations.
Any one of these would stand alone and be a notable landmark, if anyplace else.
I recognize the spot that I last stopped exploration.
We are now heading into a spirit of new adventure.
We are soon surprised by a pair of smiling hikers. We have already immersed ourselves in the decision to just grin and bare it, if we happen upon anyone. We have no clothing to cover with in any way. We’ll just act like it is perfectly usual in our chosen outfits.
A passing male in long cotton sleeves quips, “Well, I’ll bet you stay cool that way.” There is no ignoring it. We’re just as notable as the hoodoos for some people.
Now, I could go on and on, telling the story of the day by amazing rock by rock, but I’ll leave that to a few pictures. An overriding theme is that on this day, for some reason, which could be, Saturday, the first truly ridiculously hot days in the valley, the Covid-19 virus getaway to the mountains, or just fate to come across notably more numerous hikers. I can only speculate why, but the trail seems filled with other people. By the time of our return, we lose count at 35 humans over the course of four and a half hours!
There are hikers of all kinds, young hikers, older, very old, way overweight, fitness people that carry weights to pump as they walk, teens, couples, pairs of every sex, groups, 3 women, three runners. One guy is dressed with military equipment and a pistol. I have to wonder if he considered himself overdoing it, after coming across two people strolling with nothing, but water and shoes. We may have disillusioned the macho fellow.
Most don’t seem to even notice our inadvertent public nudity. Many are looking down at their careful next steps. Many just smile, or say hello. Everyone is more interested in maintaining social distancing of six feet than the nakers in their midst. A group of runners pull their masks up as they zip by. One couple going up a hill doesn’t even notice us sitting on a rock watching them a few feet off of the trail.
We are beginning to wonder when this trail will intersect the Mt. Lemmon Trail. It has been a while. We have been stopping to photograph and sight-see quite a lot.
For an example, at one point, I come around a large boulder, stop, turn and “whaoh” just falls out of my mouth. There are moments of true awe.
I am once again, stunned by the size and presence of yet another form.
We begin an uphill grade and stop to sit in the shade of a flat rock for a break and snack. A group of three are up ahead sitting talking about food. They are coming from the other direction.
After they pass, we make a go to the top of this ridge.
The trail marker is clear…finally, we intersect the other trail.
From here, we look down on the Tortolita Mountains and Pinnacle Peak, which is miles into the distance and then we stare beyond.
The view on this side is huge.
I stand on a boulder and try to take it all in.
The trail is pretty level. We are tired. It is getting much later than planned in the heat of the day.
We decide to go ahead until the terrain starts uphill once again, just to see what we see.
I’ve decided to try this other trail some day and camp at the pools again as a loop hike.
A couple of more pairs pass us. One female has a huge grin on her face, like she has had an epiphany. She’ll be thinking this nude hiking thing out, I can tell.
There are so many photos of great wonders, that I decided to just not hassle with being choosy. I’ve made this report into two parts. I will post a conclusion later in the week.
Be sure to click any image to enlarge it as you desire.
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