I must have taken my fanny pack with the camera in it off at the summit of Mt Hopkins (8500ft elevation) to put my wind shell on for the descent. The one brain cell that was responsible for remembering to put my fanny pack back on must have expired. I rode 19 miles back down without noticing it was missing. Not even when I removed Camelbak and excess layers at the van did I notice anything missing. It wasn't until an hour later and 60 miles away that I realized my error. Even had I realized my mistake at the van, I could not have driven all the way to the summit to retrieve it. The top three miles is gated to public auto access. I would have had to slog up the steepest three miles on totally depleted legs to get it.
There are still honest people on this planet. A University of Arizona research student found my camera, presumably in the evening, as she works the night shift at the MMT summit observatory. The Smithsonian Institute runs a visitor center at the base of Mt Hopkins, a few miles up from where we parked. When I inquired via email if a lost camera had been found the day after I lost it, a kind woman there had just received a report from the summit that a camera had been found. This was doubly good news. My fanny pack also contained the key and address to the Bed & Breakfast we were staying at. The owner Sharon was not too happy with me about losing the key, as she just had all her locks changed and didn't want to have to go through that again. The Smithsonian just needed me to identify the camera and call in a pre-paid FedEx pick-up to send it back to me.
I finally get to see the pictures from that otherwise great day. I've climbed Mt Hopkins three times now, and this was by far the nicest day. You could see easily a hundred miles in all directions. Despite the snow up top, it was not too cold. Hopkins is not the biggest climb in Arizona. Mt Graham and Mt Lemmon can net more vertical. But those are paved climbs with much more traffic, especially Mt Lemmon with the community of Summerhaven up top. Mt Hopkins is very remote, any further south, it'd be in Mexico. I'll leave you with a few photos from our ride that day.
More than half way up with massive MMT observatory building
About 3 miles to go. Last part is paved, perhaps to control dust.
It stays steep these last few miles.
Mt Wrightson Wilderness Area to the east
How many switchbacks can you count in this photo? A hoot
to bomb down, but you could never know if a car was cooming.
View to east. Gravel road out to I-19 where we parked 5500ft
below is just visible.
Switchbacks from the summit, looking south. Mexico not too
far away in this photo.
View to north. The Santa Catalina range is visible in distance,
with Tucson buried in smog at the base of the range.