I’ve been hankerin’ to do this backpack trip for a few years. I had been down the trail to an extent several times, but this will be two nights with a day in the middle to make the best of the rest of the Wilderness of Rocks. It is a massive collection of oddly shaped rock, filled with hoodoo’s and form.
We carnude the long winding Mt. Lemmon Highway to Summer Haven and then through to Marshall Gulch trailhead. It is a familiar trip that has never ceased to capture my awe. It rises through the various ecosystems from desert (2500 feet altitude) at 105F to a lofty cooler pine coated low 80F’s (9200 feet). Along the way, rock formations and vistas entertain. This is just a beginning to a wondrous trip.
With Covid-19 well entrenched and the first really hot days of the year, we expect some more people than usual. We are concerned with parking near the trailhead and can anticipate the population up the popular Marshall Gulch Trail. After a saddle, we will switch to a different trail, where there will be fewer hikers in this remote spot.
Today, the normally congested parking is more so. Every picnic table is filled, but blessings happen and we pull into the perfect spot, which I had envisioned on the way up. The car will be safe and we won’t be tired and adding to the hike on the way back.
I get out, working out a way to get dressed for the foray. I need to get my sarong in place, but with a pair of tables literally staring at me this is difficult. Open car doors and quick actions hide my tush. Anyone might suspect what is happening, but people do change outfits. I make the effort to hide my body and comply with the law. The excuse is that the toilet is closed for Covid and to discourage use of the trail. Obviously, this Forest Service strategy hasn’t worked out.
The sarong and backpack is unusual for trail outfitting. I get some curious looks, but everyone understands that it isn’t polite to stare. We begin our 1.2 mile climb.