Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rainy day, calm evening

We had a rainy day today. Not very hard rain, but it kept the streets wet most of the day. The clouds were breaking up when I got home from work so I decided to drive out to Canyon Lake. There were a lot of cool clouds on the Superstitions but I couldn't get into a good position to get pictures of them. I took a few pictures around the lake and I like them, but they are mostly too dark. I set the shutter speed to 1/50 to keep them from being blurred. It was still hard to stand still enough after scrambling up a hill to get some of the pictures. The air was very calm out there and for once, there weren't any boats zipping around the lake. The surface of the lake was getting smoother. I thought I might be able to get some pictures with reflections but it was getting dark fast, too. Here's one picture of the lake. 1/3 second exposure time. No, I cannot stand that still; the camera was on a tripod.

From Canyon Lake a...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Four Peaks misadventure

Richard, Alex, and I drove up to Four Peaks today. Well, we got close to the end of the road. First we will look at my pictures. You see Alex playing on a pile of dirt, a few pictures of the mountains covered in snow, and a picture that shows the road we came in on, with the Fountain Hills fountain in the background. It looks so nice, doesn't it? Well, it was a little more stressful than that. Anyway, look at my pictures first.

There was a lot of traffic up there today. Lots of ATVs and dirt bikes and pickups zipping back and forth. Many times I had to get over to the side of the road to let somebody by in one direction or the other. We were near the end of the road at the top when an ATV came toward us. As I had dozens of times before, I moved to the side of the road. The critical difference this time was that the road had a layer of compacted snow on it. The feeling of my sinking heart matched the sinking of my right tires into the ditch. The tires just spun on the snow. Locking the axle didn't help at all. I was not happy. I don't think Richard was, either, but at least he was polite. Alex was having a good time. Finally, something to relieve his boredom.

A mile or two back, we had stopped to take a picture of a couple (for them, with their camera) in a Polaris ATV (a Ranger, I think). They caught up with us now and offered to pull us out. Their ATV had a winch that could pull 8000 pounds. That should do it, but I didn't see what would keep the ATV from being pulled to the truck. The guy parked it against a tree. Then it was a piece of cake. I was impressed. I was also very pleased. Thanks, Erv! Not a scratch on the truck. Yea, Polaris!

I've started a shopping list: tire chains, winch or come-along, shovel, etc. Or maybe I should just stay out of those situations. Sure, like that's gonna happen. I just need to be prepared. The locking rear axle has gotten me out a few jams on dry dirt and rocks, but it's next to useless on snow.

Click below to see Richard's pictures. There are a few of the truck as it gets pulled out. There's an action shot of Erv running the winch. Richard had two of him doing that but in the other one he was just standing there looking bored. I like this one.

There is also a good picture of Alex next to something that is not a snowman, but I don't remember exactly what it is. Alex said a lot of strange things today and they kind of run together (there was something about a whale telling him to use his instincts so he could fly like a chicken). Alex doesn't just think outside the box; he thinks in a parallel universe.

We don't have any pictures of the rest of our adventure. It probably would have been rude to take pictures of that guy that was in so much pain he could barely move. It looked like maybe he went into a corner too fast on his dirt bike and smacked into solid rock or dirt or something that was not nearly as soft as a cholla. I bet he would have rather hit a cholla. Like many bike riders, he couldn't relax until his bike was taken care of. We loaded it into the truck and he got in the jeep that was there. The bike didn't look like it was in very bad shape. The gas tank was cracked, though. The jeep had to go very slow. It's a long, bumpy road. It probably took them several hours to get him down. I just hope he made it OK and went on to an emergency room. Even if nothing is broken or ruptured, I don't think he's going to be able to move much for about a week.

I asked Richard if he wanted to go check out FS172 with me next weekend. He laughed, but he didn't answer. Hmm.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Today I drove down to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It's just north of Tucson. There's a link to it on the right side of my blog page. I drove around lost for a while so when I got there, I almost decided it was too late to pay the $12 entry fee. I'm glad I did, though. I enjoyed it. Oh, the reason I drove around lost for so long is because I was enjoying the scenery.

The museum has lots of different displays. One of them is a replica of the inside of a cave. Somebody put a lot of effort into that replica. It's so realistic, I took a picture of it.

I'm not going to describe all of the pictures. You can look at them and figure out what they are. It was hard getting pictures of the animals. They kept moving. I'm used to taking pictures of mountains and plants. They don't move very fast. I got a lot of pictures of the backs of animals heads and birds with their heads under their wings and most of an animal behind a plant, etc. There were some displays that had thin wires or thin netting around them. I'm not used to looking at a picture right after I take it so I didn't notice that a lot of times, the camera focused on the wires or netting. Maybe I should practice with our cats, but they don't move very fast. I could practice with Garrett, but he's just too fast. He's just a blur in most of my pictures of him.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A rare event, again!

Late last winter, we had a heavy snowfall (I was out hiking in it). The mountains within sight of Phoenix were covered in snow. It seemed to be a rare occurrence. It happened again this year, though!

Richard called me from Superstition Springs Mall this afternoon to let me know that he could see snow on the Superstition Mountains. Thanks, Richard! I hadn't even checked because it had been so cloudy all day that I couldn't even see the mountains. I grabbed my camera and headed for the Superstitions. I took a few pictures there and decided to go check out Four Peaks. It was covered in clouds as I drove out there, but after I had been driving up and down Four Peaks road for a while, the clouds mostly cleared away. I stood by the truck at various places along the road taking pictures. The temperature dropped as the sun got lower. My hands were pretty numb by the time it got too dark to take pictures. I took 175 pictures today.

No sunset pictures. There was a large black cloud moving in from northwest that made it dark before sunset. That cloud went over our house and dumped some sleet.

Click the picture below to open a new window with all the pictures. Most of them are of the Superstitions or Four Peaks. There is one of Weaver's Needle. There are a few other ramdom mountains and clouds thrown in. I hope you enjoy them, but you really should have been there.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Rainy day

Today was actually a rainy day. We don't see a whole lot of those here. This is the time of year that it can be overcast and drizzly all day.

After work, I drove out to the Superstitions to see if I could get some good pictures of clouds on the mountains. I didn't, but here's one of the pictures I took.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

FS172, again

I decided to go see if the thing that looked like a stone arch really was a stone arch. I won't keep you in suspense. It is. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

The first picture is just a picture. The next four are the arch. Then there's a picture of Picket Post Mountain, which is near Superior.

I took a different route back to the truck than I took on the way up. My plan was to stay out of the (cold) wind. It must have worked; my ears didn't freeze. Anyway, I walked down a wash for a while. In one stretch it had about 5 uprooted saguaro skeletons in it. Must have been one of those 100 year floods that uprooted them.

There was a geocache at the arch. I signed the log. The cache was in a notch pretty far up the arch. Not easy to get to. Short people couldn't sign it. Well, unless they had a stick.

There seem to be little roads zig zagging all over the place out there. By "little" I mean that you wouldn't want to meet somebody coming the other way because one of you would have to back up a long way. They are official national forest roads with signs. Maybe I can explore them on my ATV when the weather warms up a little (next weekend, maybe).

I carried my video camera and shot a few scenes. I taped myself getting and then putting the cache back just in case I fell. I'm having trouble getting my movies on DVD, though. The DVD burning software hangs up. I hope to have that debugged soon, though.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Today was a beautiful day. Should have gone for a hike, but I spent most of the afternoon driving. I've been reading my "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness" and read about some trails leaving from the Woodbury trailhead. It sounded like a neat place to go. It's east of here, near Superior. Click here to open a new window with a map of the general vicinity. I was on FS 172, which should show up on the map when you are zoomed to the correct level.

It was incredibly beautiful out there. I could spend a whole weekend taking pictures from the road. Click below to open a new window with a few of the pictures I took today.

The first picture is a poor picture of something interesting. Near the center, just above the saguaros in the foreground, you will see what looks like a tree trunk laying on its side. It even looks like there is still a bunch of dirt stuck to the roots. That is not what it is, though. It has to be rock. There are NO trees out there. Well, there might be some palo verdes, but they don't have trunks that are 6 feet in diameter.

I'm not going to try to describe all of the pictures. I like rocky mountains, and there are a lot of them out there. The road climbed to almost 5000 feet. I should be able to hike up there in the summer.

The last picture is of a saguaro that thinks it might be a tree. It may be a crested saguaro some day.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Santan hike

We didn't have good hiking weather today (in my opinion) but I went anyway. The main reason I went was because I was going to meet Greg, a coworker, for the hike. He's a neat guy and I enjoy spending time with him. Anyway, we went for a hike in the new Santan park. I drove by it last summer and have been wondering what the trails are like since then. Also, it's close to where Greg lives. Click on the picture below to open a new window with all of the pictures.

The first picture is downtown Phoenix viewed from the mountains. Boring. I need to quit doing that. Next is a mine entrance with really heavy duty bars over the entrance to keep people out. There were a bunch of mines scattered around. Don't know if the two guys that dug them found anything. In the third picture you can see the side of some of the mountains and a road and mine tailings. There weren't any holes over there. We decided they must have just leveled of the top of the mountain.

Next is Four Peaks and the Superstitions. Last is the view to the south.

There are a few saguaros out there, but not very many. Greg said there have been a few fires.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

All for (Mc)Naught

When I got home from work, I saw that comet McNaught was about the most visible comet in a century. I hurried out to the desert to get pictures of it. Alas, there were clouds on the horizon. Here's a picture of them, instead.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Lindsey's picture

Lindsey took this picture on Friday, 1/5/07. I really like it. Kind of reminds me of Mordor (be sure to roll your Rrrrrr's when you say that).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Butcher Jones trail

This is a screen capture from Google Earth showing where I went on the Butcher Jones trail today.

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Butcher Jones

I was thinking about staying home to rest and play computer games today. It was too nice outside, though. I decided to go for a short drive and maybe to mosey down a trail a little ways. I went to Butcher Jones recreation area, next to Saguaro Lake. It has picnic tables and stuff like that. You have to pay to park there, so I drove through the other side, which goes up a large wash that empties into the lake. Yes, I'm cheap. I parked in the wash and headed for a trail that leaves the picnic area and follows the lake shore. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

The first picture is another one of those memorials you see a lot of in the desert. Somebody's pet, I guess.

The next picture shows how the trail follows the lake shore. In the next picture, the mountain to the left is Stewart Mountain. You can see the Superstition mountains in the background of the next two pictures.

In the picture of Four Peaks, the water is really that color. When the wind covers the water with ripples, the water reflects the sky. The sky is usually deep blue here, so the water looks that way, too. In order to head off the people that are going the say that the sky doesn't look deep blue in the picture, let me explain that the sky is lighter on the horizon. Such facts may not be obvious to those living in muggy, almost perpetually cloudy areas of the country.

I wandered along that trail for quite a while. I calculated that I should turn around by 3:30 in order to get back to the truck before sunset. Then I decided that I would be able to find my way back to the truck in the dark. Then at 3:40 I remembered seeing a sign that said the gate would be closed at sunset. I started to hurry back and almost right away I lost the trail. I wasn't lost. The trail was. I went in the direction I wanted to go and the trail found me again. I walked as fast as I could all the way back. Man, my legs are tired and my feet ache now.

I took the last picture on the way back. It looks so picturesque and peaceful there. I don't know if I'll hike there again, though. On the way out I passed small groups of people fishing. On the way back, each place that had had people fishing now had fresh trash scattered around. Some of it was even hung in trees. Some people are such clods. I'll stick to hiking off-trail and going places that most people don't.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

It was a beautiful day today. I didn't think I was going to get Lindsey out of the house before sunset, though. She didn't get out of bed until 12:30. Turns out she wasn't feeling very good. I'm surprised she managed the hike that we went on. It was kind of long. She's tougher than she looks (she's not just a pretty face). We went on the crosscut trail up to the aluminum bench at the base of the Superstition Mountains. In the first picture, the bench is at pixel (1870, 1043). It's very hard to see, though.

The next two pictures are of Lindsey laying on the bench, exhausted. The first one was an accident. I pushed the button before I had the picture composed. The second picture was taken 5 seconds later. Notice the dust cloud that has appeared far off in the background? I wish I knew what had caused that. There wasn't enough wind to do something like that.

The next picture is a close up view of the mountains. If you look closely you will see a red spot near the base of a rock pillar. Turns out that was a chubby woman in flimsey beat up sneakers. She didn't look like the kind of person you would see hiking in mountains. After seeing how fast she got down from there, though, I believe she would run circles around me backwards and that wouldn't even be a warmup for her.

Next is what downtown Phoenix looks like from the Superstitions. The building on the far left is the control tower at Sky Harbor airport.

Last is a helicopter that zoomed by just before we headed back down. Lindsey doesn't think it had anything to do with the dust cloud. I don't see how it could have, either.

Lindsey goes for a hike

I made a short video of Lindsey on our last hike. I had the camera going just in case she fell. Glad she didn't.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sunset hike

Lindsey hasn't been on a hike with me for a long time. She was watching clouds blow over the Superstitions from work all day and wanted to get a closer look. We went a short way down the Massacre Grounds trail and then up the side of a nearby hill. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

The clouds looked like they might result in a great sunset so we hung around in the cold. Turned out that the sunset wasn't as spectacular as I expected. Suzanne called just as the sun touched the horizon and said she hoped that somebody was getting a picture of the beautiful rainbow. It was on the other side of a mountain from us. I make all that sound dissappointing but actually we had a great time and it was beautiful out there.

Monday, January 01, 2007

More fossils...?

It was a beautiful day for a hike, but I didn't go on one. At least I figured out how the ball of my left foot keeps getting bruised. The sole of my left shoe is just about worn through. It doesn't provide any protection from rocks.

Anyway, I drove down Apache Trail, almost to where it turns to dirt. I stopped there and wandered around an area I've visited several times. I had never noticed all the stuff that looks like fossils there, though. It kind of looks like tree bark, but there's too much of it to be that. Maybe it's fossilized algal mats. I need to dig out my Arizona geology book and see if I can find out how old the rock is out there, and if it's even sedimentary.