Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fossil Hunt

A few weeks ago (November 19), I had gone on a short hike near FR 80 and thought I had found some fossils. I speculated that they were cross sections of sticks, but that didn't seem right. Then I remembered that I know somebody in the Dallas area that takes his classes out on fossil hunts. I sent an email today hoping that he could identify what I had pictures of. Anyway, I went out there again today planning to get a better look at the "fossils". I also had some ideas of what I wanted to look for to help determine whether they were fossils or just funky rocks. Unfortunately I didn't leave the house early enough and the sun was very low by the time I got to the fossils. I couldn't find the ones I had photographed before and the ones I found today didn't look as good. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

The first picture shows something with a spiral shape. I can't imagine how a rock could get a spiral shape, so maybe it is a fossil.

I did a little web searching and decided that some of the fossils I had found before might be cross sections of crinoid stems. The next picture shows a couple of what might be crinoid heads, the part that catches food floating by in the water. Come on, it doesn't take a LOT of imagination to see that.

At first glance, the next picture looks like it might be cross sections of crinoid stems. But then you see that a couple of them seem to overlap; not something you would expect to see crinoid stems do. Then you notice some round nodules. There are a lot of those out there. Some are broken in half. They have the same radial pattern as seen in this picture. Just rocks. I'd like to know how the nodules form, though.

The next picture is a trapdoor spider hole. He wasn't home. I'm surprised he left the door open. Maybe something happened to him.

Next is a lousy picture of the canyon next to the fossils. I included it to show how deep the canyon is, though I don't think this picture really does that. Down at the bottom of the picture you will see some light patches. The next picture is zoomed in all the way (12x) on those light patches. You can see that there are some mines down there and the light patches are the rock that was dug out of them. I'd like to go check out the mines but I'm not sure how to get there. The canyon walls are pretty much straight up and down. The people that dug them got there, though. I'll find a way. In the zoomed in picture, you will notice that there are trees with colored leaves. Maybe cottonwoods. Whatever they are, they require more water than one typically finds where they are located. I wouldn't be surprised to see them on the canyon floor, but not up the side like that. I wonder if the water they get is a result of the mines, since they seem to be in the tailings.

The remaining pictures are just pretty stuff. Well, it looked pretty while I was there. I hope the pictures look nice, too. Having a camera with 12x zoom makes it easier to get good sunset pictures. Only a very small patch of the sky had the pretty red colors. Zoom in enough, though, and the whole picture is colorful.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A hike near Stewart Mountain

As you drive south on Bush Highway past Saguaro Lake, you can see some beautiful mountains up ahead. There are often cars stopped along that stretch of road as people take pictures. There is a canyon that goes up into those mountains and I've wanted to hike up that canyon for a while. I could get there from the Blue Point entrance to Bulldog Canyon, but it would be a long hike just to get to where I want to start hiking. I could park close to where I want to start hiking (which is what I did today), but then I have to cross the Salt River. Well, the river has looked really low the past couple of weeks, so I thought I might be able to wade across or use some stepping stones. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

The first picture is looking in the direction I wanted to go. Look how hazy it is. This morning the air reminded me of Houston (except it didn't stink). It didn't look foggy, but I couldn't see the Superstition Mountains from my house. It was like they had dissapeared. Anyway, the canyon I wanted to hike up is on the left side of the picture.

The next picture is taken at the edge of the river. I couldn't get across without getting my feet soaked. The water is too cold to wade barefoot. Besides, with all the tubers here in the summer, there have got to be some broken beer bottles in there. There was an interesting dead tree by the river (next picture), so the short hike down to the river wasn't a total loss.

The next picture is a small peak across the road that I decided to climb. It's much bigger and steeper than it looks in the picture (isn't that always the case, though?).

There were a lot of pretty rocks on the way up. Some of them looked like big chunks of iron. The next picture is of a magnet I stuck to the side of one of them. The magnet also stuck to a lot of greenish colored rocks.

Next is the view from near the top. My truck is the middle one of the three parked there.

I found a USFS Control Pt up there. I couldn't figure out what it controlled, though ;-) I pushed it, pulled it, and wiggled it around but nothing happened.

Then there are a couple of ladscape pictures I took while at the top. I took 63 pictures today but most look pretty boring. I can blame the haze this time. A neat thing about haze is that is allows you to show distance in a photograph. I need to work on making use of that.

I just decided to add the last picture. Looks like a B-25 to me.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lauren's car

Lauren bought her Focus last night. Click below to see pictures. Unfortunately, it's very cloudy today. The backgrounds didn't turn out very good in the pictures.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Four Peaks

I made another poorly planned trip to Four Peaks today. Maybe someday I'll remember that it takes 3 hours to drive up there and I'll remember to take along some food. It was also cold and windy and threatening to rain up there, so I wasn't very enthusiastic about hiking anyway. Kyle and I did walk about a quarter mile along one trail. There were very nice views of Roosevelt Lake. Couldn't get very good pictures with the overcast skies, though.

The first picture is an almost dead tree. It has one branch up there somewhere that still has some needles. The next two are Roosevelt Lake. In better light the surrounding mountains are much more colorful. The fourth picture is snow. Not a lot of it, but we did see some. I could see more closer to the peaks. All of the snow was on the north side of the mountain.

Next is four pictures stitched together for a long panorama. On the left side you can see Phoenix's polution.

The last picture is a sign at the trailhead at the end of the road. Look closely to see what somebody added to the bottom of the sign. I don't think they enjoyed their hike very much.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bulldog Canyon

Today I went for a short hike in Bulldog Canyon. It wasn't a very long hike. I'm out of shape and my foot hurt. I stepped on a rock or something. It's really starting to hurt after sitting around for a while. I didn't take a lot of pictures this time. Instead, I video taped a lot (got a video camera for Christmas). I was thinking that I would make a video of an entire hike, starting with filling up my water bottle at home, including the drive out there and back, and everything in between. After watching the 20 minute video I made today, I realize that that would be way too boring for anybody to watch. I'm not sure how I would distribute it, either. I'll think of something.

The pictures (click below) are of a cholla skeleton and a couple of strange saguaros. The first saguaro looks like a face. The second one reminds me of Sideshow Bob.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A foggy day

It was overcast most of yesterday and actually rained in the evening. It's been about 3 months since it has rained. I think most of the valley got about 1/4 inch of rain. I thought it would be clear today but it was foggy all morning (which is unusual; second time I've seen fog in almost 4 years). Anyway, Kyle and I decided to drive out to Canyon Lake after lunch. This first picture is the Superstition Mountains. It was still a little hazy and stayed that way all day in the valley.

The air was clear out at the lake.
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Monday, December 18, 2006

An extremely short hike

On the way home from work today, I noticed that the clouds looked like they might be good for some sunset pictures. I got the camera and headed out to the road that goes to the First Water trailhead (just past Lost Dutchman State Park on Apache Trail). It was a short hike because I got to a decent place for taking pictures of the sunset within 200 feet of the truck.

The sunset didn't turn out as spectacular as I had hoped. I did find some other interesting stuff out there. The first picture shows a memorial. These seem to be fairly common along Apache Trail. I've found them from the Superstitions to Lake Roosevelt. They are usually a very short distance from a place to park. Sometimes you can see ashes scattered around them. I didn't see any around this one.

What I came across next just seemed seemed funny. For some reason I pictured a bunch of animals sitting around and one of them tells the newcomer, "This is an exclusive club. To show that you are worthy, you have to crap on that cholla ball over there." That's too dangerous of an initiation ritual for me.

While I was waiting for the sun to set, it came through some clouds and almost lit up Four Peaks off in the distance. That's in the third picture. I was on that ridge on the left side of the picture a few blogs back.

I wish I could have recorded the coyotes, but I couldn't remember how to turn on the microphone with this camera fast enough, and they didn't howl for very long. They were close enough for once that I could have recorded them, but they didn't howl for very long. I'm going to practice so I'll be ready next time.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Mount Graham

Suzanne and I spent part of the weekend in Safford. It's not your typical tourist destination. In fact, it wasn't easy talking Suzanne into going there. I think the thing that convinced her was the fact that there was going to be snow and ice up on the Mogollon Rim, which was her first choice. We'll go there when it warms up a little.

The reason we went to Safford is because it's next to Mount Graham, which is a really big mountain that I've been wanting to check out for several years now. There's a road to the top, which is really nice since I don't think I could get to the top of a mountain that is over 9000 feet tall without a road. Unfortunately, the road is closed near the top this time of year. That wasn't too big of a deal today, though, because the top of the mountain was covered in cloud. If we could have gone further on the road, we just would have seen more fog.

Click here to open a new window with a map/satellite view centered on where I took a short hike while up there. You can zoom in or out and pan around to check out the area. Safford is to the NNE.

Click below to see the pictures. I didn't get any really good ones. I'll just have to go back and try again.

The first picture is what Mt Graham looked like at 8:30 this morning. I took the picture despite the bad location in case the clouds were gone later. I needn't have worried about that, though. Next is a pine tree covered in frozen fog. The wind was really blowing up there and the cloud droplets were freezing on the trees. I saw 3 or 4 snowflakes, too. Click here to see a video of clouds blowing through trees.

It was pretty cold up there. I saw my thermometer get down to 30 (remember, I'm from "the valley"). That didn't keep the turkeys off the road, though. No, not the numbskull drivers. Real turkeys. They're in the next picture.

Next is the view from a short hike I took. It kind of reminded me of the view from the South Rim in Big Bend. I wasn't prepared for that hike. It was 35 degrees there and it seemed like I always had a 20 mph wind blowing in my face. I tried to smile for the next picture (a self portrait) but my face was a little stiff. I'm wearing the earmuffs that Suzanne gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. My ears were toasty warm. Oh, so nice. I wasn't prepared for hiking in such cold, windy weather, so I didn't go far and was I very very careful to note landmarks every few feet and retrace my steps exactly (no shortcuts) to get back to the truck. The camera and batteries got so cold that it wouldn't take pictures. I had to keep it inside my jacket. I could take 2 or 3 pictures before it would give up again. I called Suzanne from the end of the trail (she wisely waited in the truck) but I think the phone isn't designed to work in very cold weather, either.

The next picture is the only part of the trail where I wasn't buffetted by wind. It felt so nice, I took a picture. The last picture is one of several squirrels we saw up there. You can also see a little bit of snow at the bottom of the picture. There were small patches of snow here and there.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


This morning Paul (a coworker) and I went for a hike on one of the trails at the end of Meridian road. It's a pretty day and it was a nice hike. I didn't get any really good pictures of the scenery, though. Here's a good picture of Paul after he took a picture of that saguaro behind him.
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bulldog Canyon. Yeah!

I tried to hike in an uninteresting part of Bulldog Canyon OHV area today, but that's hard to do. It's all cool. I parked in the middle of a "flat" area and walked in a direction where I didn't think I would be close to any trails. I thought I was a long way from where anybody else would ever go. However, I found a balloon with a rock on top of it and fresh horse hoof prints. Balloons don't crawl under rocks and there aren't any wild horses out there. There can't be anyplace that people haven't set foot around here. I guess that shouldn't be surprising with so many people around.

I took lots of pictures of saguaros today. The first picture is a saguaro skeleton. The next one looks like a couple of saguaros that are about to take ten paces, turn around, and shoot. There bases are a little discolored. It looks like there was a fire in this area a while ago. I don't know how to estimate such things but I'm guessing the fire happened about 30 years ago. There are other places near here that you can tell there were more recent fires and I've found records that say they happened in '79 and '81.

Cholla cacti seem to grow in clusters. I took the next picture from the middle of one of those clusters. Fortunately, there is always space between them. Otherwise you would have to take long detours around the clusters. There isn't anything outstanding about the picture. In fact, there are some things about it that I don't like. When I look at it, though, it just seems warm and inviting, like a picture of home. It makes me think of sitting in a big soft chair in front of a warm fire in a cozy room, sipping on hot chocolate with little marshmallows floating in it, and there is nothing urgent that needs to be done and no bills to be paid and no calls to be returned. Just peace and warmth. I don't know why it makes me think of that, but it does.

The last picture is a saguaro on its last legs. It looks almost dead but it is still putting out new growth. It looks like it is taking a bow.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Back to Bulldog Canyon, finally.

I finally got out for a hike today. Spent most of yesterday getting my tires taken care of and working on the pool. Worked on the pool some more today. I think I need to clean the filters next. Anyway, it was good to get away from all that for a couple of hours.

I went to a place that I've been to several times before, so I didn't post a lot of pictures. In the first picture, there is a cliff wall in the center of the picture. I hiked to the base of that cliff. The third picture is a small "cave" in the side of a wash that some critter stuffed with teddy bear cholla cactus balls. The last picture is a saguaro that looks wrinkled. I think it's caused by disease or a genetic defect or something. I see saguaros like this now and then and the ones around them never have the same deformity.

Don't have time to write much. Gotta do laundry, eat dinner, clean the kitchen, then pick up Lindsey at the airport.