At this point, we begin our second day, an exploration further into the ten or twelve mile paradise.
Naked into the wilderness:
Sleep works out well. I’m happy with the new ultra-light housing from Six-Moons designs. Opening the flaps, the sunlight coloring the amazing cliffs is astounding, thus the exclamation in thought, “Am I still dreaming?”
DF got a call from a friend of ours offering permits for Araviapa Canyon’s west entrance. The four of us, our two non-nudist friends and we two, will now be leaving the following weekend… It didn’t take much deliberation. After all…”Paradise!”
We hadn’t been out backpacking in over a year and not visited the Aravaipa paradise since 2017.
We were last up on Mt. Lemmon in the spring of 2020. We hiked down to Lemmon pools and explored on through the Wilderness of Rocks. It was early in the Covid lockdown and we got surprised by around 35 other hikers on a trail that rarely saw anyone else. We just had to grin and bare it, having brought no clothing along with us.
The next day, a bolt of lightning hit the mountain range and burned with little control for over a month. Every day, we watched heart broken, looking up to the flames above, from Tucson below, tasting and smelling the smoke. The Forest Service maps reported that a huge area, something like 120,000 acres went up in smoke. Our favorite spots were hit, one by one.
We finally got the gut fortitude to return and assess the damage, as it applies to us on August 27th of 2021. We found there, that the historic extra wet monsoon rains have left the entire region is in hews of green. Trails are getting overgrown. After a year and a half long drought, it is stunning.
We expect much of our forests to be gone, but from the look of things, the desolate aftermath of a forest fire has been replaced by a mass of bush, grass and shrubs. We have heard reports of abundant flowing water!
The hiking trailheads along the road have been closed to hiking, due to the extra year of drought that led to the fire’s fuel.
We begin the 21 mile drive up the Catalina Highway, from 2500 ft. to 9200ft.The saguaro studded lower hills are great, as if nothing had ever happened. I remark that maybe nothing did happen here.
The next morning, we start at our leisure. I had been up for a surprisingly warm orange juice colored sunrise, but went back to bed.
Voices are heard. Two or three hikers walk by briskly up the canyon. They are the only ones about. They probably came from that group of RV’s a couple of miles down the road. This is a vast playground, all to our naked selves.
Today, we will continue upstream. Yesterday, the color got more dramatic, the further we went up the canyon. I wonder if it will continue as that. We will walk at our leisure, immersed in it all, cameras recording the gems. No more plan is needed, other than a good trail lunch, water and snacks.