Saturday, September 29, 2007

ATV in Bulldog Canyon

Date: September 29, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1520, 93
End - 1855, 81
Distance driven 10.6 miles
The numbers:
16 Pictures taken
3 Other people seen

Ramblings: Maybe all I did was ride around today (except for one small side hike), but I'm worn out. I drove down 10, a road through the center of Bulldog Canyon OHV area, on my ATV. I drove down that road once before in my truck and I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to get my truck out of there. Driving down that road today, I was astonished that I had made it in my truck. Maybe it's gotten worse since then, but some spots are just the way I remembered them. I remember standing there thinking, "How the h**l am I going to get past this?" I kept going forward back then because I didn't think I would be able to climb back up some hills I had descended. Even on a nimble little ATV, there were some tricky spots. I'm worn out from all of the jostling and jerking around. My neck hurts from being jerked around. My hands are raw from hanging on with a death grip. It's a good thing I drove real slow. It was well worth it, though. I'd go again tomorrow if it weren't going to be so hot.

Something unusual happened. Every picture I took turned out OK. Well, you may not like them, but I do. The air was so clear I didn't even have to tweak the contrast on any of them.

On my way out there, I was worried it would be crowded on such a nice day. I didn't see anybody else until I was about to leave, though. All that incredible beauty so close to town, and I had it all to myself for most of the afternoon. That's just mind boggling.


Since nobody has even gotten reasonably close to guessing the contents of the barrel, and since there are those who are grumbling about this contest being like the "riddle" that Bilbo Baggins posed to Golem to escape his clutches in that deep, dank, dark cave (anybody remember?), I will give two more clues some time in the next couple of days. I already have the clues in mind. I'm afraid it's going to be a dead giveaway, though, so I'll have to put some new rules in place.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hike around Spooky Hill and Horseshoe Mountain

Date: September 25, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1735, 90
End - 1905, 77
Distance hiked: 1.9 miles
The numbers:
14 Pictures taken
1 Birthday balloon extracted from the desert

Ramblings: I missed a great YouTube opportunity today. I had just left the truck when 4 people on ATVs went roaring by. I thought about making a video but didn't. One of them didn't make it around a curve and almost slammed into a rock wall. He got stuck in the soft sand and it took two guys to get it out.

What was strange is that when they were about to drive off, the one that was stuck pointed at my truck and kept saying, "Who's truck is that?! Who's truck is that?!" I don't know why he was so excited to see my truck. I was wondering why they hadn't seen me (I was on a bare hill side). Finally the other guy pointed at me and said, "It's probably his". I waved. The goofy guy said "Oh" and they drove off.

It's so nice and cool (almost) in the desert now. The problem is that the sun sets so early. It was pretty dark by the time I got back to the truck. I was struggling with whether to get my flashlight out or not. If you use a flashlight, all you can see is your little circle of light. If you don't use one, you run the risk of scaring a rattlesnake, and it might bite first and ask questions later. I took my chances and stumbled through the dark.

The wash on the western side of Horseshoe Mountain seems to have been a popular place for people to hang out for many years. There's trash all over the place, thousands of gun shells laying around, and lots of animal bones. Which brings me to the contest. In the pictures, you will see a picture of a rusty barrel. The object of the contest is to guess what's in it. Some clues: it's man made, it's broken, I didn't take a picture of it, everybody touches one just about every day. I hope that doesn't make it too easy. The person that guesses closest to what it is wins the prize. Yes, of course there's a prize! The prize is an autographed, framed picture (taken by me). You can either tell me which picture you want, or I'll pick one out. Is that cool, or what. OK, some rules. There is a limit of 20 entries per person. No pseudonyms or aliases. You have one week. Remember, this is a family oriented blog; lewd guesses will result in disqualification. Finally, it's my contest, so I make the rules, so I can do whatever I darn well please.

Here's a map of the hike.

View Larger Map

And here are the pictures.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Soooo cool

Date: September 24, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1720, 84
End - 1830, 71
Distance hiked: About 2 miles
The numbers:
8 Pictures taken

Ramblings: Hmm, not many numbers. I didn't find any golf balls. That's twice in a row that didn't happen.

Today when I got out of the truck and started walking, I felt guilty or something. It was like I shouldn't be out there when it isn't blazingly hot. I got over it, though. It was nice to be able to walk around and not have to stop to cool off. It was nice to just walk without planning my route from saguaro shadow to saguaro shadow.


Saturday, September 22, 2007


Date: September 22, 2007
Location: Apache Trail, somewhere past Tortilla Flat
Time and temperature: Around 5 or 6, upper 80's
The numbers:
33 Pictures taken
1 Tarantula seen
0 Golf balls found. How odd.

Ramblings: Wow, I wonder if I've lived here so long that I'm starting to take it for granted. On the way back to the house, I was trying to decide whether to get a mint chocolate chip ice cream cone in Tortilla Flat or take pictures of the sunset. Fortunately, I didn't have to decide. I got the ice cream cone before I got to a place for good sunset pictures. Then when I got there, it was raining.

I just strolled around for a while near the road today. In the pictures, you will see one of a narrow canyon. There are a lot of those in that area. They would be the downfall of anybody that got disoriented out there. You might figure out which direction you need to go, but if you find one of those canyons in your way, tough luck. There is no way to cross it, and it could be a long hike to get around it.

I made a movie of the tarantula. My movies lose a lot of resolution when I upload them, though. I'm going to try to fix that before I upload this one.


Photo editor

No, Lauren didn't really do this. I edited an old picture. Turned out pretty good.

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Burning tires

Date: September 20, 2007
Location: Lone Mountain, Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: I forgot to look
Elevation change: 750 feet
The numbers:
50 Pictures taken
200 "Film" speed, dag nabbit
67 ants photographed
3 golf balls found

Ramblings: My truck is filling up with golf balls. Maybe I should take up golf so I can get rid of them. Oh, heck, I should just go throw them in a water hazard and save a lot of trouble.

There was a fire today that filled almost the entire valley with smoke. It was pretty ugly. I was headed for Bulldog Canyon and decided to climb Lone Mountain to see if I could get some pictures of the smoke.

As I started up Lone Mountain, I noticed occasional yellow ribbons tied to palo verde branches. Looked like somebody was marking the trail, but the trail seemed much more prominent that it did last time I was up there about 2 years ago. I don't climb it much because I don't like the noise from the nearby gun range or Usery Pass road. Somebody had also placed a lot of cairns along the trail As I got closer to the top, the trail had switchbacks. Somebody had put a lot of effort into the trail. This wasn't some hiker doing something just for fun. It's a very nice trail.

There is a bench (I think) at the top that has "EJ Peak" written on it. I don't know who named it that. It's still Lone Mountain as far as I know.

Several times over the years, I've taken pictures of ants because I thought it might make interesting computer wallpaper. The ants didn't stand out, though, so the pictures just looked like pictures of dirt. I think I've figured out how to make those kinds of pictures work, though.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Another hike with Alex

Date: September 15, 2007
Location: Apache Trail, near Canyon Lake
Time and temperature: Late afternoon, low 90's
The numbers:
53 Pictures taken
1 car found
1 golf ball found

Ramblings: That's right, low 90's. It didn't feel very humid, either, even though there were some thunderstorms in the distance. Alex wanted to climb a mountain today, so that's what we did. A small one. There was a very nice breeze at the top. We sat there for a while enjoying the breeze and the sights. Alex spotted a car in the distance that had gone off a cliff (they do that a lot on this road). We hiked down to it. As far as Alex was concerned, that was the best part of the hike. The panel from inside the drivers door was on the ground. Alex was playing with the switches and said, "My parents never let me push these buttons". He wanted to take the switches home. I like to take trash out of the desert, but there is so much along that road, we wouldn't be able to make a dent.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wupatki and Sunset

Date: September 8, 2007
Location: Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater National Monument
Time and temperature: All day, upper 60's to lower 90's.
Distance hiked: Three or 4 miles
The numbers:
154 Pictures taken
10 Hours spent in truck

Ramblings: About 3 years ago, I had gone to Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument. I saw several collared lizards then and I wanted to get some better pictures of them. I've been thinking about this all summer. I finally made it up there yesterday. It's a longer drive than I remembered, almost 4 hours one way (I drive slow). I didn't get home until some time after 2130 and I had to skip dinner to get home that early. I was worn out, and my feet were killing me from all the up and down hill hiking. The sad thing is, I didn't see a single collared lizard. The trip was still worth it, though. I saw stuff I hadn't seen last time. Also, since this is Arizona, the scenery is beautiful wherever you go.

The cinders in Sunset Crater National Monument don't hold water; rain just drains right through them. The area receives only about 16 inches of rain a year. Consequently, much of the landscape look desolate. There are forests of Ponderosa pine, but there are also large areas where almost nothing can grow.

One of the most interesting things about Wupatki (to me, anyway) is the blow hole. Under the right conditions (dropping barometric pressure), cool air continuously blows out of the hole. Based on the flow rate, barometric pressure, etc., etc., the volume of the caverns to which the blow hole is connected is estimated to be about 7 billion cubic feet. That's a pretty substantial volume. Imagine a cube almost 2000 feet on each side. Of course, it's probably not one big room and may just consist of a lot of narrow channels. Nobody knows, though. It is sacred to Native Americans, so there has been almost no exploration of the cavern beneath the blow hole. Nobody has been inside of it. BTW, if you ever go see the blow hole, the sign next to it is misleading. It says something about warm, less dense air rising from the blow hole and cold dense air falling it. That's silly. A change in barometric pressure is the only thing that will cause air to flow in or out. I suppose that if warm air is flowing in, it could be cooled by contact with with cavern walls, which would reduce it's volume and increase the flow rate. The main driving force is barometric pressure, though.


I found a video on YouTube that shows how forcefully the air can come out of the blow hole. Ignore the blabbermouth and watch how the girl's hair gets blown around.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lauren conquers Spooky Hill

Date: September 5, 2007
Time and temperature: Start - 1815, 94
End - 1935, 90
Location: Spooky Hill, in Bulldog Canyon
Distance hiked: One mile
Elevation change: 170 feet
The numbers:
22 Pictures taken
1 hill climbed
0 sick hikers

Ramblings: You may remember that on August 8, Lauren and I tried to climb Spooky Hill. It was kind of warm that day, and I guess we went a little too fast. She had to stop and lay down for a while because she started feeling really bad. Because of that, though, she spotted the mine that I hiked to on September 2. Anyway, we went to climb it again. She didn't have any trouble at all this time.

We got started a little late, and I think the sun is setting earlier, so I didn't get many pictures. We stayed at the top of the hill until 7:00 so we could watch the Fountain Hills fountain. It was getting pretty dark by then. Too dark to get a picture of it. Here are a few pictures of other stuff.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

An old mine in Bulldog Canyon

Date: September 2, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1720, 102
End - 1952, 96
Distance hiked: About 1 mile.
Elevation change: 240 feet.
The numbers:
33 pictures taken
1 skeleton found
1 snake seen
1 Mylar balloon collected
1 water bottle collected

Ramblings: I'm trying a new feature of Google Maps that enables me to embed a map in my blog. Here's a map of the hike. You might have to zoom in some.

View Larger Map

It sure feels good to be back in the nice, dry dessert. I decided to try to get to the mine that Lauren spotted back on August 8. After checking my pictures and using Google Earth, I decided where the mine must be and where a good place to park would be. It looked like the mine should be on the southeastern side of Horseshoe Mountain. Oh, you won't find Horseshoe Mountain on any maps, because I just made it up, because it doesn't seem to have a name on any map. It looks sort of like a horseshoe from certain angles, and I needed some way to refer to it. I should probably make a Google map with the names I've given to stuff out there.

On the way up Horseshoe Mountain, I came across the skeleton of a small animal that had lots of teeth. If anybody recognizes the jawbone, please let me know what kind of animal it was.

I kept looking for the mine on the way up and finally spotted it. It took me a little while to find a route up to it. It was pretty steep. I intentionally hiked to the ridge above the cave first and stood there enjoying the view and the breeze for a while.

By the time I got to the mine, it was close to sunset. I had to use the flash to get a picture of the inside of the mine, even though it was only about 8 feet deep. It went into the side of the rock, not down (much). Anyway, since I used the flash, some features are washed out. You can see a smaller notch cut into the back wall of the mine. What you can't see are about 7 holes drilled in various places in the back wall. Each was about 4 or 5 inches in diameter and 1 to 2 feet long. I don't know if they were exploratory or if they were where explosives were to be placed. Anyway, there was a snake curled up in one of the small holes. At the time, I couldn't tell what kind it was. Seeing the pits in the picture now, I'd say it's a rattler, maybe a black-tailed rattler.

What catches your eye about the mine from a distance is the squarish entrance. It looks out of place there and so it stands out. I turns out that the squareness is accidental. See that large rock on the floor of the mine? When it fell, it left a squared off notch at the top of the entrance.

The mine is very close to an area that is popular with litter bugs and other types of people that seem to want everybody else in the world to know when they've passed through an area. Trash of all sorts, shotgun shells, other gun shells, remnants of campfires, shot up saguaros, shot up rocks, and millions of pieces of broken bottles are scattered all along the eastern side of Horseshoe Mountain. Strangely, I could see no evidence that the neanderthals had made it up to the mine. There were no trails, there was no trash, and my footprints may be the only ones in the mine now. There is sort of a trail about a hundred feet south of the mine. You would never know the mine is there from that trail, though.