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We expect much of our forests to be gone, but from the look of things, the desolate aftermath of a forest fire has been replaced by a mass of bush, grass and shrubs.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.
As we rise in elevation, there is the next level of ecosystems, more of a …