Sunday, April 29, 2007

Curses, foiled again.

I tried to get to the top of the Goldfield Mountains using the route shown on my map (it's in yellow). Halfway up, I realized I had been up there in almost the exact same spot before. I didn't make it to the top last time, either. It was too steep and too hot. I went in the morning this time because I didn't want my hike to be cancelled by storms again. I had forgotton how brutal the sun is, even on days that are just a little warm. It was about 92 out there. Seemed warmer, though. My water was getting too warm to drink. I didn't make it to the top, but I did see lots of pretty things. Here are some of the pictures.


I think the snake is a coachwhip, aka a red racer. Click here to read about the coachwhip snake. Here's a short video of the snake making his getaway.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Wind, dust, rain, no hike

I had plans to hike deeper into the mountains of Bulldog Canyon OHV area this afternoon. When I was about to leave the house, though, I noticed that it was unusually dark. I looked outside and saw that we were in the middle of a thick dust storm. I decided to drive out to Bulldog Canyon anyway. I was hoping it would clear up by the time I got out there.

Here's a short video of a helium balloon used to advertise some new homes being built near our neighborhood. It's really being whipped around by the wind. You can see that the air is kind of dusty, too.

Here's a few pictures of various things I saw while I was out. Richard called me at about 2 this afternoon to tell me that he saw black smoke coming from the mountains north of here. He probably saw that burning microwave relay station in the pictures. I took that picture at 4.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another ridge in Bulldog Canyon

There's a small ridge in Bulldog Canyon OHV area that I have made a few half-hearted attempts to reach the top of. I was always stopped by something, usually sunset, once by Lindsey's stomach cramps. This time I was determined to get to the top, though. I changed clothes and ate a snack when I got home from work and headed out. It wasn't until 6 pm that I started up, though. It was 78 and there was a light breeze when it wasn't blocked by terrain. This is the ridge I climbed:

It doesn't seem to be so horse shoe shaped when you are on top of it. Also, those parts that seem to have gentle slopes seem much steeper when you are on them. There's a very nice view from up there, especially if you like looking over cliffs that seem to drop away forever. I couldn't make myself get closer than about 3 feet from that edge, though. Here are the pictures from this hike:

Conquering another ridge in Bulldog Canyon

There are a couple of pictures of the view, then there's one of a stand of teddy bear cholla. I learned that you shouldn't talk on your cell phone when walking through them. I didn't start down until close to sunset, so I called Suzanne while I still had a good signal to let her know I was OK. I kept walking because I was running out of daylight. By the time I got to the other side of those cholla, both feet were covered with cholla balls and they were halfway up my legs, too. I managed to shake them off and kept going, but I kept getting poked by cholla needles until I took a shower.

There are some pictures of cholla flowers and the setting sun. I turned to get that picture of the sun and briefly thought about moving to the left a little so the tree wouldn't be in the way, and almost screamed at myself. The cliff was 3 feet to my left. Ever since I started taking pictures (25 years ago?) I've worried about falling while trying to get in position for a good picture. I hope I never do that. Talk about embarrassing.

I added some of these pictures to my map of Bulldog Canyon, in case you want to know exactly where I was, and even if you don't.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Another Arizona Sunset!

Today we had another one of those beautiful Arizona sunsets. I took 45 pictures of it. It's a good thing I don't have to pay for film, developing, or prints. I'd be broke.

Here's a few of the pictures, including some with airplanes, birds, and rooftops.


Tucson Mountains video

Here's the video I made in the Tucson Mountains on Saturday afternoon. If while watching it you get bored but you keep watching in case there is something interesting, don't bother. Stop right then and save yourself some time. I'm afraid the entire thing is difficult even for me to watch. I got bored explaining what was what to Suzanne. That's so sad. I need to figure out a way to spice up my videos of the desert. Or just stick to pictures.

I wish I had taped the little girl that growled at me on one of the trails, or the look on her parents' faces when I growled back. I missed a great opportunity there.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Weekend in Tucson

Suzanne went to a nursing conference in Tucson on Saturday. I've been wanting to check out Saguaro National Park, so I went along. Well, I went along for other reasons, too, but I did want to see the park. It's split in to two pieces. I went to the part on the eastern side of Tucson Saturday morning. It's a very nice park, though their visitor's center parking lot is way too small. I had to sit in the van for several minutes waiting for a place to park. A very helpful gentleman in the visitor's center described a hike that would be about 3 miles long. That sounded good to me. My foot has been acting up lately so I didn't want to walk very far. It was about 60 out there with a light breeze. A lot of plants had flowers, so there was a lot to look at.

I had always thought prickly pears were boring plants, but now they are covered with pink and yellow flowers (both colors on the same plant). They were very pretty. The ocotillos also had flowers, but I'll try not to overwhelm you with pictures of them again. Click below to open a new window with the Saguaro National Park Pictures.

Saguaro National Park

I had to walk slowly so my foot wouldn't hurt. Walking slowly makes my hip hurt. I was ready to sit down for a while by the time I hobbled back to the van. I grabbed a bite to eat at McDonald's and went back to the hotel to take a nap and then pick up Suzanne from the conference. She was already at the hotel, though. They got out early. She wasn't feeling too good, though. Some kind of intestinal bug. Well, we weren't going out to eat and there was still sunshine, so I headed for the Tucson Mountains. They are some small mountains on the west side of Tucson.

I had driven through the Tucson Mountains in January but didn't have time to stop. Now I could check out a trail or two. Now the bad news. I left my camera in the hotel room. Bummer. I had the video camera with me and it will take pictures, but they look so bad I can't stand to let you see them. I'm putting a video on Google Videos but that will look bad, too, since they seem to reduce the resolution. Tough luck. I may not put a link to the video on here until tomorrow. The upload is going very slowly.

I ate at Church's yesterday evening, but Arizona Church's don't have fried okra. What a disappointment. Then I made 2 or 3 trips to the pharmacy as I nursed Suzanne back to health. I must have done a good job because this morning she felt good enough for the drive up to Summerhaven, on Mount Lemmon. I'm still trying to get some good pictures of Mount Lemmon. In the mean time, here are some that I took today.

Mount Lemmon

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back in the desert again

I haven't posted anything about hikes in the desert for a while. I've been kind of busy. Here's one thing that kept me busy:


The pool had way way too much mineral build up in the water. I think it was about to start forming travertine on the waterfall. Richard and I just found out that you aren't supposed to drain your pool if it's over 85 or the plaster will crack. It was cool this past weekend and was probably going to be the last cool weekend before October. I really wanted to change the water because I haven't been able to use the pool for the past two years. It made my skin itch. It got really green because I wasn't able to balance the water and therefore couldn't maintain any chlorine in the pool and if you get any algae it clogs the filter and you can't circulate enough water to keep more algae from growing and it's a big mess. It looks a lot better now. Enough about the pool.

I have also been very busy at work for the past few weeks. I was able to leave on time today, though, and headed out to Bulldog Canyon as fast as I could. Oh, it was so nice to be out in the desert again. I really missed it. It was in the mid 70's with a nice breeze. Perfect. I went to check out the place that rock climbers like to use there. There aren't any places to attach ropes. Maybe they just wrap them around a rock. Anyway, here are the pictures.

Rock climber spot

I've put some of these pictures on my map of Bulldog Canyon.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A map!

I've been busy at work lately. Getting home too late to hike. Yesterday, though, I discovered something awesome online. Google Maps now lets you create your own customized maps. You can put place markers on it that have descriptive text and can also have pictures and movies. I've thrown together a map of one of my favorite places to hike (Bulldog Canyon OHV area) to demonstrate. If it opens in map mode, click on satellite or hybrid (in the upper right corner of the map) to see the terrain. Click on the place markers to see the text/pictures. Click on a picture in a balloon to go to the full size version of the picture.

Click HERE to open a new window with my customized map. Be sure to bookmark it and check back now and then. I'll be adding more pictures to it over the next few days. Please let me know what you think. (Click "comments" at the bottom of each post.) I think the customized maps will be a great way to show where I am on my hikes.

Thanks to my friend Steve in H-town, who says last Sunday's mystery bird might be a cedar waxwing. He included this link to a page with pictures and a description of the cedar waxwing.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter hike

I went for a hike yesterday afternoon. I came home to a wonderful Easter dinner and sat around visiting with family until bedtime, so I'm just now getting around to updating the blog.

The main reason I went was to look for some cryptobiotic soil. I found lots. In fact, as various articles on the web will tell you, it seems to cover 80% to 90% of the ground in the desert. When you read that it can take up to 500 years to recover from damage, it makes you want to quit hiking in the desert. I've always walked carefully, though. I don't dig my heels in or push off with my toes so that they dig a hole. I probably disturb the soil when I slip, especially if I fall, but I try not to do that. Anyway, I'm sure I do much much less damage than the horses out there. Everywhere I went, I was within sight of horse hoof prints that broke through the crust. I guess deer don't break through the crust very often. The only places I've noticed their prints is in the powdered dirt of a trail or the sand of a wash. It was interesting to see how much of that stuff there is, now that I'm aware of it.

I wandered around out there for 3 or 4 hours and saw lots of pretty stuff. Didn't get any spectacular pictures (even though I took 107). No, not all of them are of dirt.

It was a little breezy while I was out there. When I was about to drive out the gate, the wind started blowing hard. There was a lot of dust in the air. The sun was completely hidden by dust 10 or 15 minutes before sunset. The wind had stopped by this morning, but it looked like the dust was still hanging in the air.

cryptobiotic soil, etc.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Black widow census

I grilled hot dogs tonight. I picked up the bag of charcoal and it was covered with spider webs. I opened it up and reached for some briquettes, but was stopped by more webs. I'm not afraid of spiders, but I've heard that black widow bites can be very painful, and I don't like pain. Have you ever tried looking for a black widow in a bag of charcoal? I went in the house and got the tongs and put briquettes into the grill one at a time. I decided to look around tonight and see how many black widows I could find. They come out at night, so they are much easier to find then. I only found 4, but I only looked for 2 or 3 minutes. I never did find the one (or several) by the grill (and those do look like black widow webs all over the grill). I couldn't find any on the front porch. I wonder if that's because I got rid of those before the trick or treaters came by. I don't use poison because I don't like killing everything. I know there's one in the garage, but I couldn't find it. Come to think of it, I might have smashed that one last week so Suzanne wouldn't encounter it while I was out of town. Anyway, here's the pictures of the ones I found.

Black widows

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sunset from the clouds

Our flight back to Phoenix took off just before sunset. I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to take any pictures out the window. Then the clouds lit up. Have you ever wondered what a sunset would look like from up in those pink clouds? Well, I have pictures. We were flying straight towards the sun, so I couldn't get it in any of my pictures. Also, my window got frosty, so the pictures aren't too clear. I thought they were interesting, though.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Too dark for a hike

It's been a long time since I got out in the desert, so I had to go this evening. It was close to sunset when I got out of the truck, and the clouds were getting thick in the west, so there wasn't much light. All the pictures were taken with a flash.

Hedgehog cacti have flowers all over the place now. I found a dead tree that might make some interesting pictures. I'll have to try to find it again in the day time. I also want to find what's in the last picture again. It looked like pottery that had been broken. The side against the ground was covered with gravel, as if it had stuck to it. I don't know what it was. It was too dark to see anything clearly.

I don't have any pictures of the most interesting thing I saw. I was standing still, listening to the quiet and looking at a saguaro skeleton when I heard the sound of hooved animals running. A couple of guys on horses had galloped by when I was driving and I thought it might be them. I heard a pause in the hoof beats as the animals jumped over something. Then I spotted a couple of dear about 75 yards away, heading north. I only saw them for about a second. I decided to go take a look at their footprints. At first I couldn't find them and felt like I had probably gone past them when I spotted some fresh horse hoof prints. I couldn't believe that I had mistaken horses for deer, even if it was a little dark. I was sure there weren't any riders. I was slowly making my way in the direction of the truck when I spotted the deer tracks. The dirt had just been kicked up; they were very fresh prints. Then I found a cholla and some brittlebushes in a row, with prints on either side. The prints on the north side were deep and a lot of dirt was displaced, as if the animals had landed hard. This was what I had heard them jump over.

Bulldog Canyon 2007_04_04

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wharton flood

Can't upload a lot right now. Dial up. Here's a picture of the sunset on the day of the flood, though.