Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Marshall Gulch Trail

Last Friday we went up Mt. Lemmon to Summerhaven, 25 miles up the Catalina Highway, 7500' or so above sea level, where the air was cool and the clouds provided just enough shade.  Marshall Gulch and Aspen Loop were the trails we traversed, and they were beautiful.  Miss Marjorie felt like she was back in South Carolina, with the pine needles beneath her feet.  I'm not sure if the mushrooms were on her list of favorite memories, but they sure were pretty:

We crossed streamlets that could have been on Mount Tamalpais in Marin.  The water was cold and clear 

and just deep enough to tickle my toes in my Keens:

Yes, I hiked in sandals, with silly socks, and no, I didn't get pebbles or stones or prickers in my feet.  These things are amazing, with the elastic gripper closure quickly accessible for loosening or tightening as the need arises.  Plus, they are green.  I love colorful shoes.

We've had some incredible windstorms this Monsoon, with gusts of 80+miles per hours.  This tree looks like the victim of one such blast:

The root ball is gigantic, but the hole isn't very deep.  With scarce water supplies, these big trees keep their roots close to the surface, sucking up every drop that oozes down to them, not wasting any on the soil as would happen if the roots went deeper.  But when the winds blow, there's not much holding the tree into the earth, and this is what happens.

Further depredations were in store down the path.  The Aspen Fire in 2003 devastated the hillsides, and while the houses have been restored the greenery is still suffering.  

That's our path, wending its way through what used to be a shady glen of pines.  The bright green below are the soon-to-be-trees, sprouting when the pine cones burst during the fire.  It's nice to see the undergrowth have a chance to flourish, but the process of revitalizing the forest is a slow one.  

And sometimes it seems that even the trees sense the sadness:

We hiked, we chatted, I took pictures and nearly fell into a stream, and then we bushwacked across an field of downed trees to our reward: Lunch Ledge

where we sat, gazing out over the valley and the mountaintops, feeling very proud of ourselves.  

It was a lovely, lovely day.  Thanks for sharing it with me.

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