Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mount Lemmon and Rice Peak

The Plan.

The plan was to take the back way to the top of Mountain Lemmon and then have supper at the Red Lobster in Oro Valley.
You know how plans are; it turned out a bit different.

Mount Lemmon Trail.

Sue, Denis, Lise and Frank, showed up at our front door around 9:15.
We were on the road by 9:25.
We headed east on Coolidge Ave. and when we got to Hwy.79 we tuned south and drove the 38 miles to Oracle Junction. Here we turned east and drove to the town of Oracle where we turned south on American Ave. We stopped at the Circle K  to top up the fuel tanks.
From the Circle K we continued south on American Ave. to Mt Lemmon Hwy. Here we turned right.
This road starts out paved but after a few miles it becomes a wide graded dirt road.

The road eventually becomes narrower and starts to climb through rolling grass and scrub lands.

Along the way we passed several cows grazing along side the road.

In the distance we could see Mount Lemmon with lots of snow on the mountain.

We crossed a couple of small streams on the road as we climbed toward the top of the mountain.

End Of the Trail.

The book we use to guide us on these trails said that the gate on the road is opened March 1st.  It didn't say unless there is too much snow.

We came to this sign where there is a large turnout.

We pulled off the road here for a break.

About 25 yards up the road is a gate that was definitely closed.

Now What?

Frank had been looking at the book and found that there was another trail that connected to this one down near the bottom. We decided that would be a good one to try.

As we were heading back down the road we noticed that it was 12:30 so we found a wide flat spot just off the road to stop for lunch.
We had to run a few cows off as they were resting here.

We set up our chairs and had lunch.

As we sat there eating lunch the clouds moved in and it got cold so we packed up and moved on.

Rice Peak Trail.

The Rice Peak trail starts at the Peppersauce Campground.

It goes past some primitive camp spots and through a grove of interesting trees. I don't know if these trees are dormant or dead but their shapes are interesting.

A little further along the trail it start's to climb steeply.

The trail continues to climb and goes through some very tight switchbacks.

We were all actually able to make the turn without having to back through it.

This is looking down from the switchback.

The trail continues to climb steeply up the mountain.

There are a few spots that are a little rough.

The worst thing about the trail is the last mile  to the top. It is very steep with a lot of loose rock. Thanks to lockers it wasn't as hard as we expected.

There is a great view from the top.

Snowing at The Top. 

By the time we got to the top it started snowing on us.

Here is Patti enjoying the snow fall.

We didn't stay long at the top as the clouds were moving in fast.

Going Down.

Going down was scarier than going up.

We made it safely to the bottom and headed for Oracle. We stopped where the pavement started to air up.

By the time we finished airing up, the clouds opened up and a mixture of rain and snow began to fall in earnest.

Supper at Red Lobster.

As we headed west toward Oro Valley the cloud's moved east and when we got to the restaurant the rain and snow were just a memory.

We had a great Lobster supper.

 It turned out to be a great ride again.

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