Saturday, March 24, 2007

A stroll through Bulldog Canyon

I was planning to work all day today, but after an hour at work, I realized I couldn't go any further until I got some information I needed from somebody else. Rats. Nothing to do but go for a hike. There were still some clouds around from the recent rains. The humidity was still high, too, so I didn't want to do anything too strenuous. I just strolled along looking for things to take pictures of. I saw the first hedgehog cactus flowers of the season. They are so bright they are easily spotted. I only saw two hedgehogs with flowers. The others are covered with buds.

Fairy dusters are blooming. I saw a cactus I don't think I've ever come across before. I think it might be a pencil cholla. If anybody recognizes it, please tell me what it really is. I was feeling kind of quesy by the time I got to it, so I didn't get any good pictures.

Bulldog Canyon 2007_03_24

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


We had some monsoon-like weather today. Lots of wind and dust, and just enough of a sprinkle of rain to make the dust stick. I drove out Apache Trail to get some pictures (I don't like hiking in dust; valley fever paranoia). I took 72 pictures, mostly of the sunset. I think a couple of them turned out. Check out the cloud with loops in it.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Lindsey in Bulldog Canyon

Most of today's pictures are of Lindsey, so I named the blog for her. We climbed almost to the top of the butte shown in the picture below. She wasn't feeling too good, so we didn't make it to the very top. We did get to the top of that bright cliff on this side of the butte.


It was a little warm today. Low 90's, I think. We were sweating. It was a beautiful day for a hike. The first picture is Lindsey when we had gotten past the steep part of the hike. Next is Lindsey looking through a stone arch. Finally, there is Lindsey standing on the cliff. Unfortunately, you can't even tell there's a cliff there. It looks like there might be a small cliff, but it is not small. I have to lay down to peak over the edge, and it takes my breath away. Behind her is the ridge I've been to the top of a couple of times recently.

Lindsey in Bulldog Canyon

On the way down, I kept hearing her slip and squeal. When I would look around, she would be standing there and say, "I'm OK". Later she showed me how red the palms of her hands were from stopping her falls.

One last thing; I finally got the video of Alex added to the album from the hike he and I went on a couple of days ago.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Alex and I hike in Bulldog Canyon

Alex and I finally got our schedules coordinated and went for a hike in Bulldog Canyon. We climbed what looked like a small hill. It looked much taller from the top (which was at 2121 feet). The sun is still setting pretty early, so it was dark by the time we got back to the truck.

I almost got hurt on this hike. On the way down, I stepped on a rock that looked pretty solid. It wasn't. At first I was afraid I was going to twist an ankle. I managed to avoid that. Then I was afraid I would break a wrist. Avoided that, too. Then I was about to go head first into a large barrel cactus. Dodged that, too. Some how in all that twisting and contorting I wrenched a muscle in my side. I also hit my leg on a rock just below the knee. All minor stuff considering how worried I was when that rock first slipped away.

I think Alex had a good time. He was bored to tears by the time I parked the truck, but then he had fun. He was talking about how rough the road was and kept saying something about "... if you flip the truck again ...". I don't know why he thinks I've flipped the truck before.

The first picture is the hill we climbed (the taller one). Next is a natural stone arch we found along the way. Then a picture showing what happens when you get too close to cholla. I had to get the pliers out. Then a few pictures of the surrounding mountains. The picture that looks so bland is the one where you are supposed to find my truck. There's Alex on top of the hill, and then a bunch of sunset pictures. It was a beautiful sunset. Somewhere in there is a short video of Alex slip sliding down the hill.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A late trip to Bulldog Canyon OHV area

Lindsey and I went out to Bulldog Canyon today. We got a late start, so the sun was about to set by the time we got out of the truck. It was nice being out there, though. No wind. With the sun getting low, we kept encountering pockets of cold air as we walked. Some coyotes sang to us for a while.

The pictures are so-so. The first is Lindsey acting like she's sinking in quicksand. We don't see much of that out here. In fact, I don't think I've seen any. The rest of the pictures are just stuff.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Weekend in Overgaard

Suzanne and I spent a relaxing weekend in Overgaard. It's up on the Mogollon Rim. It's a few miles back from the rim, so Suzanne didn't feel like she was going to fall off a cliff the whole time. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.


The first couple of pictures show the cabin. It was nice. I didn't take many pictures of it, though.

One afternoon, we drove down Black Canyon Road. It was pretty. I realized how accustomed I am to taking pictures in the desert. I would stop to take a picture and get frustrated because of all the trees in the way. I finally gave up and took pictures of trees. Also, I found some places where there weren't so many trees, or they didn't get in the way.

The next picture is of Black Canyon Lake, which is a small man-made mud puddle at the end of Black Canyon Road. As you can see, many of the trees are just blackened trunks. They were burned in the Rodeo Chediski fire in the summer of 2002. You can also see some snow on the slope on the other side of the lake. There was still a lot of snow around, especially above about 6700 feet. It was very peaceful out at the lake. Even the kids there were sitting peacefully. Maybe the air was too thin for them.

The next picture shows what is being done with some of the dead trees. I guess you will find them in the mulch department of Home Depot soon. Next is more burnt trees. It's astounding how many burned. There were miles and miles and miles of burned trees, and I'm sure we saw only a small portion of them. You can also see that there are patches of green here and there, so it wasn't total devastation.

Next is a tree growing out of a rock. Looks like a natural bonsai. It seemed so unusual and unique. I took pictures of it from all angles. None turned out too good, though. Bad lighting, and no matter what the angle, there were trees and rocks in the background into which the subject blended. The next picture is of another tree growing out of a rock about 50 feet further down the road. Big whoop.

We came across some 800 to 2000 year old petroglyphs. The plaque near them listed several ideas about what their meaning could be, and at least one of those ideas is probably right. As I stood there contemplating the petroglyphs, I tried to imagine the people that had made them. I thought about what drove them to put those pictures there, about what important message they were trying to communicate to their people, to future generations, or to the gods. One image kept coming to mind, of teenagers drinking loco weed tea and messing around with some paint until their mother or father told them to quit goofing off and go pick some corn or catch a rabbit for dinner. Do we try to attach significance to the images just because they've survived for so long? Surely random grafitti would not be our only link to a civilization that vanished hundreds of years ago. They would not want their society to be remember for the "contributions" of their delinquents. I'm really starting to ramble. I don't know anything about petroglyphs, so don't pay any attention to my silly ideas.

They last picture is the side of Black Canyon. I felt like I had finally found a spot that the trees weren't in the way. Trees are nice, and I like them. I guess I've gotten used to taking pictures in the desert, though. Also, pine-covered landscapes look extremely boring to me. When Lindsey goes to northern Arizona with me, about the time that I'm thinking the scenery has gotten really boring, she says, "Oh, it's so beautiful out here". Mountains that are rocky have character. Pine covered mountains all look the same. I have a picture of one, and that's all I need. I guess I should challenge myself to take an interesting picture of a pine covered mountain. I'll work on it, but don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Perfect Evening

There were some interesting clouds around after work, so I went out to Bulldog Canyon OHV area to get some pictures. The weather was perfect. High 70's, single digit humidity, no wind. The best thing was that I had the whole place to myself. There were no vehicles parked near the entrance. I didn't see or hear another vehicle the whole time I was out there. It was incredible to have all of that spectacular beauty all to myself. It always strikes me as very odd, too, that so many people live at least as close as me to a place like that (at least 10's of thousands), but there is nobody there late on a weekday afternoon and probably less than a hundred on weekends. They must be crazy, which is fine with me. I like having the place to myself.

It was very quiet out there today. No ATVs or dirt bikes zipping around. No Hummers full of loud-mouthed tourists lumbering by. I only heard two planes fly overhead. The clouds were a little lower than usual, and I think that soaks up some sound, too. I heard birds twittering on the way out there and listened to crickets all the way back.

No traffic on the road in the OHV area. I stopped in the middle of the road several times to take pictures and didn't get in any body's way. On most of that road, you have no choice but to stop in the middle (if you're going to stop) because it's only one vehicle wide.

Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

Perfect evening

The first picture is some of the unusual clouds. Looks like virga. In Texas you wouldn't expect to see rain falling out of such wimpy little clouds, but here you see it a lot. The ridge I've been climbing lately is in the picture, but it blends in with the mountains behind it so it's hard to tell exactly where it is.

Every time I drive by the cactus in the next picture, I think, "Crown of thorns". Can't help it.

The next picture might be virga over Four Peaks, and the cloud that produced it is gone. I think the relatively flat area way off in the distance in the next picture is The Rolls. I can see some dirt roads out there, and it's in the right direction, so that must be it.

Last is the sunset. No sunlight was getting to the clouds for most of the sunset, then at the end it broke through and there were deep red clouds all around. It was fantastic. If anybody else in the Phoenix area even noticed it, they watched it through power lines and street lights, accompanied by the sound of traffic. Not me!

I took a few more pictures but I deleted them. As I was almost to the gate leaving the OHV area, I noticed that the Fountain Hills fountain was on and lit up. I hurried to a spot on the side of Usery Pass Road to try to get a picture (the fountain is only on for 15 minutes at a time). I set the tripod up in the bed of the truck so I could see the fountain over palo verdes. I had to take 5 second exposures for the fountain to show up, and was zoomed all the way in. I used the self timer so the camera would stop shaking from my finger pushing the shutter release by the time the shutter opened, but I could feel my legs quivering just a tiny bit. It was enough through the bed of the truck to blur all of the pictures. Next time I'll hike to a good vantage point and put the tripod on a rock.

I also took a picture of my truck, but you won't see it here. I took the picture in order to illustrate why a high clearance vehicle is required to drive through Bulldog Canyon OHV area. However, my skills were not sufficient to capture the immensity of the rock being straddled by my truck. I'll just have to take you out there some time and see if you stomp on the floor trying to hit a brake pedal that isn't on your side, the way my other passengers do. It isn't because I go fast; it's because they're sure I'm going to scrape the oil pan off (they don't know about the skid plate, though, or the fact that my skid plate has only ever touch one rock (gently)).

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Another hike to the ridge in Bulldog Canyon

Remember when I hiked to the top of a ridge in Bulldog Canyon (2/25)? I went back there today to see if I could get to the top of the ridge on the right side of that notch. I did, and the view was great. Click below to open a new window with the pictures.

The first picture shows the peak that was my destination. It also shows a beer bottle I found under a bush out there. I put it on a rock so I would be able to find it on the way back and take it out. I tried to get it angled just right so I would be able to hear the wind blowing over it, so it would be easier to find. Sorry about the picture being crooked. I tried to straighten it but that chopped off the top of the mountain.

Next is the view from the top. I'm looking down on the part of the ridge that I was on top of last weekend. Then there is the Fountain Hills fountain. I included it to illustrate how windy it was. When I got back to the beer bottle, it had blown over.

The Superstition Mountains can be seen from this part of the ridge. You'll probably recognize The Flatiron. Then there are a couple of pictures zoomed in here and there.

The next picture was taken after I had gotten back to the truck. It shows the peak. Take note of the cliffs all around it and to the right. I broke one of my hiking rules today. The rule is, "Go back the way you came". On the way up, if you didn't know exactly where you were going, that's okay because you got there. If you take a different route down, you might find out that it doesn't work and then you have to retrace your steps to get back to the top and start down again. That's no big deal if you aren't too tired and you have plenty of water. So it was no big deal that I tried to take a shortcut back to the truck. I went along the base of those jagged rocks at the top of the ridge. There were several times that I almost turned back because I was not going to violate another one of my hiking rules, which is, "Don't walk in a place that if you fell and rolled or slid a few feet, you would go over a cliff." The picture does not show how steep the non-cliff parts are. If I slipped there, I might slide right off one of those cliffs. I was able to find a path that was relatively level most of the way, though. I finally got to a point that was just too dangerous, though, and had to turn back. No big deal, but my legs sure are tired now.

That's sounds like a bummer, but as in life, unexpected detours can bring you to wonderful things you wouldn't have seen otherwise. As I was retracing my steps to get back to where I could start down, I found the arches in the next two pictures. The are right next to each other. The picture of the second one shows part of the first. I started to climb up to them and look through them and maybe even climb through, since I was trying to get to the other side of the ridge anyway. I decided I was too tired and it was too risky, though.

Next is a millipede skeleton. I wouldn't have seen that either if I hadn't had to go back. I guess it might not have been worth the detour, though.

The next picture was taken on the eastern side of the ridge, as I worked my way back to the notch. Maybe I have too much imagination, but it looks like the head of a crinoid to me. Next is a different perspective on a saguaro skeleton. Hmm, lots of skeletons on today's hike. I also saw parts of a tortoise skeleton near the top of the ridge. The shell had been reduced to small white squares. I guess it had been out there a while. I didn't get a picture; not enough pieces to be interesting.

I had to include a picture of my truck, too. It's right out in the open, but cleverly disguised. Can you spot it? ;-)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Apache Trail sunset

After work today, I drove out Apache Trail, past Tortilla Flat. I decided to hang around out there and get pictures of the sunset. It was cool and breezy and I was pretty numb by the time I left. Click below to see a couple of the pictures.