I may be in the middle of the desert, but Tucson is actually surrounded by the Catalina mountain range, home to Mt Lemmon. Mt Lemmon is the most famous peak in the Tucson area, and is somewhere that travel websites all over the internet say you must venture up before you leave the city.
Last weekend, thanks to a trip organised by my university, I made the 6 mile trek up the ‘Butterfly Trail’ of Mt Lemmon. Now, I know what you’re thinking – ‘hiking up a mountain…in the Tucson heat??’ Yes, it was very very sweaty. And hot. And tiring. And did I mention sweaty? Still, we soldiered on and completed the trail, which rose up roughly 1000 feet in elevation as well as being considerably lengthy.
It took around 6 hours to hike the route – we started around 10am and finished at 4pm, give or take 30 minutes. More experienced and determined hikers could probably have completed it in much less time, but for us, there was no rush. Especially on the last part of the ascent, we stopped every few minutes to just take in the views around us. Most of the day we had our heads glued to the ground, watching for any uneven ground that could sway our footing. However, the nearer we got to the top the more beautiful it became. Thanks to the recent monsoon month, the mountain slopes were painted green and smelt fresh. It was a magnificent contrast to the orange desert bellow, and one I’d never thought I’d see in Tucson. Around us were plants are all different colours and varieties, which made for a more interesting hike. We even found some wild raspberries – although they were much smaller than our beloved British ones.
Whilst the trip may have left me scratched, bruised, sunburnt and achy for the next few days, I can’t say that I regret taking the plunge and doing something I wouldn’t usually do. The views were spectacular and it was nice to spend some time away from the dryness of Tucson. Besides, popping on your iPod and trekking through the mountains really isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday.