Day 16: Mt. Lemmon

March 18, 2021

Mile: 184

This is what a lot of the Mt. Lemmon trail looks like.

Another long, cold night of little sleep, and woke up with more frost on the inside of my tent and on my quilt. 

When I woke up yesterday, my right eye was a little swollen, so I decided not to take anything before bed last night or when I got up this morning. I’ve been taking a few different things at different times to try to counteract the allergies, especially because my nose is so raw from constant blowing and rubbing and I keep getting really bad nose bleeds. I woke up this morning and my eye looked normal, so it must be something I’ve been taking. I’ll have to do some research when I have cell service again. 

Ghosthiker and I packed up and hiked out early as usual, trying extra hard not to make any unnecessary noise so as not to disturb our neighbors. The hike today was pleasant. It probably helped that we were only going about 5 miles into Summerhaven. Yesterday I had a lot of trouble with my feet. We hiked through so much snow and my shoes and socks got so wet that the moleskin and tape shifted around and just made things worse, so today I put nothing on my feet but dry socks. We had a little bit of a climb after leaving camp but the trail was mostly soft and even, covered in either snow or pine needles and not a bit of scree, which I’m sure helped my feet tremendously. They feel pretty good right now. 

The trail became dryer and easier to hike the closer we got to Summerhaven, which was nice. Met another thru-hiker named Bass, who hiked behind us for a bit because the trail was narrow, but he seemed to want to move faster so we let him pass. 

We made it to Marshall Gulch Trailhead, took the icy road walk into town, and got to the Cookie Cabin cafe by 10:30am. They don’t open until 11:00am but rather than hike on to the post office and then hike back for a total of .6 extra miles, we claimed some nice seats at the patio next to an outlet where Ghosthiker could charge her phone. Mine still has a decent amount of battery, so I opted to wait and charge mine later.

When I lived in Casa Grande, AZ, my cousins would talk about going up to Mt. Lemmon and how it was everyone’s favorite destination because it is so unlike the rest of Arizona. Well, they weren’t wrong! Hanging out in Summerhaven felt similar to so many small mountain towns we visited on the PCT. There were cute little rental cabins everywhere, it was all wooded and beautiful, and the weather was perfect. 

By the time the Cookie Cabin opened, there were several other people waiting around to order. We got a large pizza to share and a cookie each. But don’t be fooled – both the pizza and the cookies were huge, much larger than normal pizza and cookies ought to be. We demolished the hole pizza between the two of us and each managed to eat at least half of our plate-sized cookies, packing the rest away in our food bags for later. 

After that, we walked to the General Store and took turns going in while the other watched our packs. There were a couple benches in the sunshine with outlets nearby, so that was nice. Lots of familiar hikers were milling around inside and out, and it was fun to see everyone we knew congregated in a single place. Joe Dirt, Sam (who doesn’t have a trail name yet, I guess), Trash Panda and Loins of Arabia, Bass, and Deacon, plus some others I recognized but haven’t actually met yet. A tourist on his way out of town gave us all a bunch of jerky and fudge and wished us happy hiking. When I went through the checkout with a couple of goodies (not much, since I don’t quite remember what’s in my resupply box), the woman running the register asked me if I wanted some coffee or hot cocoa. It’s free for thru-hikers, so of course I said yes! And it was delicious, too! Thick and chocolaty and not watered down like one might expect at a little mini mart type store. Such a lovely treat! 

We perused our phones while we walked up the hill into town, hoping to find an AirBnB or a hostel or somewhere we could possibly stay the night where it would be warm and dry and maybe, maybe have showers. The post office is at the very edge of town, and with bellies full of food, it was quite a struggle to get there. We picked up our resupply packages and the postmaster was very helpful. She gave us a couple phone numbers we could try of places that rented cabins, just in case they had any cancellations. We thanked her profusely and headed over to the community center to organize our gear and make some phone calls. The community center was closed but the bathrooms were open to the public, thankfully, (flushing toilets but no running water in the sinks due to the drought) as well as a nice patio where we laid out our tents to dry and organized our stuff with our new resupply. 

Several phone calls later, it was clear to us that we wouldn’t find anywhere to stay in Summerhaven. Oh, well. It is what it is. Knowing this, we headed back down the hill to the general store to pick up a few more things and charge up all our devices before heading back into town to grab dinner. At the General Store, there’s a nice secluded patio around the corner of the building and this is where we set our stuff. We bought a couple gallons of spring water from the store to wash our feet and do some doctoring (shaving down calluses, blister care…etc), and to fill up our bottles since there’s no spigot or anything here in town we can use to fill up. We washed a few pairs of socks in gallon ziplock bags with soap and water and laid them in the sun to dry, and I watched over our things while Ghosthiker went back into the store. 

I was chatting with my sister on the phone when a young man approached me and started talking to me, which, okay, I felt like that was kind of rude since I was clearly on the phone but whatever, maybe he needed help? Nope. He proceeded to tell me he’d seen me in the store earlier and though I was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen, and then he asked me if I’d like to go to dinner in Tucson with him? 

Um…okay, what?

Needless to say, I politely declined. He didn’t seem too heartbroken. The funniest part was that my sister was listening to my side of the conversation the entire time and when I got back to her, she just said, “Um…what the heck?” I told Ghosthiker about it when she got back. We both decided it was weird but didn’t worry about it too much as we packed up our stuff and headed back into town to the restaurant. 

I was so looking forward to a burger, but when we got close to the restaurant we could tell right away that they were already closed. The sign said they closed at 4:00pm! What kind of burger place closes at 4:00pm!? Ugh!! If only we’d checked before we went to the General Store, we’d have gotten dinner earlier! 

I had only half-charged my things at the General Store because there wasn’t a lot of power coming out of the outlets – most likely due to the number of hikers trying to charge things. I figured I’d let these other hikers use the power and I’d just plug my stuff in at the restaurant during dinner. So much for that idea. 

Because we’re up on a mountain surrounded by tall pine trees, the sun was already down by the time we got to the restaurant and it was starting to get cold already, so Ghosthiker and I decided to take a chance and sleep on the floor of the Post Office lobby. It stays unlocked 24/7 so people can access their mail boxes, and the postmaster told us we were welcome to stay there tonight if we couldn’t find anywhere else. So that’s what we did. At the very least, it means we’ll have access to a power supply and running toilets across the street at the community center. But most importantly, it’ll be warm and dry. The lights stay on 24/7 as well, apparently, which is kind of annoying but a small price to pay for warmth.

I decided to cook myself a hiker meal in the bathroom so as not to attract mice to the Post Office lobby, and also so I could charge my devices while I ate. Found out later that while I was doing that, the creeper from earlier approached Ghosthiker when she was outside and used the same pickup line on her! I couldn’t believe it! We decided he must be a gigolo or something. Yuck! While I had been very polite when I turned him down, Ghosthiker apparently yelled at him and told him to go away and don’t bother us again. Good job, Ghosthiker! (Side Note: After we were done being grossed out, though, the incidents became a running joke between us on trail. Every time we knocked on a hotel room door, we would say something like, “Hello? You so sexy, would you like to go to Tucson?”)

Long after we settled into our quilts on the Post Office floor, a hiker named Casey arrived. I guess we met Casey before but Ghosthiker had to remind me when that was because I’m terrible with names. She hiked to Summerhaven all the way from Molino Basin Campground in one day. Yikes! 

A little while later, another hiker named Ryan showed up. It was kind of late by this point and the lobby floor was a little cramped, but we didn’t have the heart to turn him away so we made space. Ryan told us he’s a professional skateboarder hiking to raise money and awareness for his after-school skate program in Tempe, AZ. I thought that was really awesome! (Sidenote: it worked. There was a news story about his hike and everything and it raised a lot of awareness about his program.).


Day 17: Cold, until it’s not

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at

One thought on “Day 16: Mt. Lemmon

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