Mt. Lemmon Overnight

Sarah, Burren, and I headed up Mt. Lemmon last Saturday to try out some of our new backpacking gear. It was our first official backpacking trip together. Other camping trips have been managed from the trunk of our car. This time we'd carry our gear in backpacks to a remote campsite, far from any other campers, woohoo!

Thank you for the birthday gift cards to REI!!! I used them to buy a blinking light for Burren's collar (she is otherwise invisible at night), chair conversions for our sleeping pads, and some small packable pillows. All added greatly to our comfort in the outdoors.

We found an excellent campsite on a high ridge with awesome views of the sunset and Tucson's twinkling lights at night. The ridge had the extra benefit of being heavily wooded which kept the wind to a minimum. At our elevation around 7,600 ft., we estimated how cold the air would become overnight. The overnight temperatures in Tucson were in the mid 40's during the week, so we guessed that Mt. Lemmon would be at least 10 degrees colder.

Well... that night my thermometer read 34 degrees, and that reading was inside the tent. Outside was in the high twenties. You Northeasterners are saying "that's not so bad!" Yeah, well, we've adjusted to the warm desert and it felt very cold as we watched the sun go down. We headed directly into our sleeping bags after sunset. The bags are rated to 20 degrees, and while we started out cold, those bags warmed right up.

Calling Burren into the tent with us was a bit tricky. She was racing around in the woods following every smell and noise. I finally had to get back outside, chase her down, and drag her in. For all of the unnecessary gear we had, I neglected to bring a blanket for Burren. I foolishly assumed that the dog would be warm enough in her own fur curled up between our bags. For a few hours she shifted back and forth between Sarah and me. One shift too many and I woke up and realized that Burren was shivering and shaking all over. Naturally, feeling guilty, I gave her some of my covers and she eventually warmed up and fell asleep.

Doggie sleeping bag for next time?

Fall Adventures In Tucson

Sorry we've been blog silent for a while here in Arizona. In the past month we got into the fall college football season attending both our first University of Arizona football game one weekend and then tailgating with buddies for the UA homecoming game another weekend. The tailgating experience was awesome, very similar to a Foxfield race, but a bit more family friendly :)

For anyone looking for deals on stuff you may or may not do/buy I highly recommend Groupon. Using a 2 for 1 Groupon, Sarah and I went on a horseback trail ride in the Catalina foothills. We had fun even though the ride was a bit too tame. I guess they're just not really keen to let a tourist try galloping their horses. The sunset as we rode back to the stable was spectacular!

We joined up with some of our Crossfit pals for a "Paleo" potluck one evening. The food was awesome, the silly feats of strength were entertaining, and Amanda's chickens were not nearly as fascinated with us as we were with them. I'm thinking we need to follow her lead and get into the egg business at the rate & price we're paying for healthy eggs these days.

We've hiked Madera Canyon a few times already but had yet to summit Mt. Wrightson. It turned out to be quite the trek. With ~4,500 feet of elevation gain from the parking lot, I stood on the 9,440 foot summit and had endless 360 degree views. The most remarkable feeling was the absolute stillness of the air on the tiny summit. I've never been at that elevation without constant wind. Interestingly, as soon as we began the descent the wind did pick up. We devoured our meager lunch and dreamt of dinner on our way back down the canyon. The 12 mile roundtrip hike took us about 6.5 hours and we slept very well that evening.

Finally, our Halloween costumes this year were last year's costumes pulled from the closet and dusted off a bit. Oh well, they served their purpose. We went to the costume contest at Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson with some of our neighbors. Our entourage consisted of Seinfeld's Kramer & Elaine, Hermione & Hedwig of Harry Potter lore, and Lara Croft & GI Joe. There were some great costumes, but sadly I shot very few photos. The contest winner was a dead ringer for Eddie Murphy in "Coming to America" and he had the impressions to boot.

That's all folks!