I’m just now getting around to completing Part II of my ride report covering the scouting trip I made up the Catalina Highway toward Mt. Lemmon a number of weeks ago.
To recap: as I described in Part I, I was only about 6-7 miles and 2500 feet up the mountain before I began to succumb to the high temperatures, lack of water, and gusty winds.
However, as I contemplated ending my ride another bicyclist happened along. She had abandoned her efforts around the 11-12 mile mark anxious about the high wind and the dangers this could poise during the steep, twisting descent. Since she no longer needed all her liquids she offered me half a bottle, which contained some kind of energy, mineral, or electrolyte-infused water.
To my surprise, drinking this helped me recovery most of my energy and instilled a renewed spirit for pushing onward. As I climbed, I actually began to gain strength. I passed a group of three mountain bikers and settled into a good rhythm, climbing for another 5-6 miles which brought me to about 6,000 feet above sea level.
I pulled into the Bear Canyon picnic area around 3:30pm feeling really good.
I attribute much of these good feelings to the Ponderosa Pines (Pinus ponderosa) now populating the landscape. Seeing this majestic species with its distinctive orange-ish bark (a common sight when I bicycled in California) thrilled me to no end. Plus, it signified that I was transitioning through one of the many eco-zones along the route.
However, given that I was out of water again (and it would be 8-9 more uphill miles before I could count on finding more) I decided my exploratory ascent would end right here.