Monday, November 19, 2007

One more hike before Thanksgiving

Date: November 19, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon
Time and temperature: Start - 1707, 76
End - 1805, 63
Distance hiked: 1.3 miles
Elevation change: 360 feet
The numbers:
14 Pictures taken
2 Movies made
1 Mylar Pooh Bear and Tigger balloon extracted from the desert.

Ramblings: On my last two or three hikes, I've been close to heavily traveled roads or roads with ATVs and loud people on them. I haven't been able to enjoy the quiet of the desert. I decided that today I had better find a quiet place and give my ears a rest. I thought I would try to get to the top of a ridge in Bulldog Canyon before it got dark. It was after 5 when I left the truck, and sunset was at 5:23 today. I got to the ridge in 17 minutes, which amazes me. It looks like it's far away when you start out and you have to cross 2 deep washes and a bunch of smaller ones before you even start climbing. My heart was pounding on the steep part, but not as hard as it did last summer when I was walking slowly up small hills in 107 degree heat.

I didn't take many pictures on the way up because I was in a hurry. I didn't take many on the way down because it was dark. I made a couple of movies at the top to try to capture the quiet, but that doesn't work. When I watch them, I turn up the volume and discover that my camera makes all sorts of noises I had never heard before. At the end of the first video, I quietly whispered, "Silence". After I had downloaded it, I was watching it and turned the volume up to listen to the camera noises. I could hear it zoom in or out now and then, and I heard the lens cap swing and bump something, and there was a constant wunk-wunk-wunk-wunk-wunk in the background. I don't know what that might be. I was trying to figure it out when the video got to the end and I jumped out of my chair at the not-so-quiet "Silence".

On the way back to the truck, I figured I would have to get a flashlight out. On the way down into the first deep wash, though, I noticed that I could see my moon shadow. Strangely, no Cat Stevens songs popped into my head.

Once I got off the slope of the side of the ridge, every wash and dip, even the shallow ones, was filled with cool air, at least 3 or 4 degrees cooler that the high spots between them. It made all the ups and downs more fun than work.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wandering around Bulldog Canyon

Date: November 17, 2007
Location: Bulldog Canyon OHV area
Time and Temperature: Start - 1555, 82
End - 1705, 72
Distance hiked: 0.8 miles
Elevation change: 360 feet
The numbers:
41 Pictures taken
15 Other people seen

Ramblings: It was a very nice day for a hike; cool with a light breeze. I headed out to Bulldog Canyon without much of an idea of where I would wind up. As I drove along the dirt road, I decided to hike out to Spooky Hill. On the way, though, I got sidetracked. I started to hike up the side of Horseshoe Mountain a little ways, taking a different route to Spooky Hill. I kept going higher and higher, though. I thought I might be about to find a new route to the top but I was stopped a few feet short. I might have been able to make it to the top, but I would have had to violate a couple of my hiking rules (rules about not putting myself in positions where I could fall to my death), so I stopped before disaster had a chance to strike.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Late afternoon stroll

Oh, I can't do all that stuff I usually do for a blog. I'm too tired today. That's because I was so tired yesterday I tossed and turned all night thinking that I really needed to get to sleep, so I didn't.

There were a lot of people on ATVs in Bulldog Canyon today. They were constantly zipping up and down the road. I was headed for some mountains and had to cross a lot of washes, so I didn't get as far as I had hoped. That part of Bulldog Canyon is heavily traveled. I saw horse hoof prints just about everywhere I went. Maybe it's popular because it's close to Bush Highway.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Another odd saguaro

Found this one tonight. Looks like it's had vertical cuts made all over it.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Camera experiment

I'm still experimenting with different ways to take pictures and different effects, but it doesn't cost near as much as it did with that instant-print camera I used many years ago. I was trying to make the flowers on this bush stand out. I think I need to polish my technique a little. I'm not sure why the leaves turned out so green.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Odd saguaros

I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog that when you are hiking on Picketpost Mountain, you never get away from the noise of cars and motorcycles on 60. It was kind of annoying. So today I thought I would go out to Bulldog Canyon for some peace and quiet. This was the first time I went out there this November. The combination for the gate locks is changed every month. The combination on my pass didn't work at either of the gates I tried. I figured my feet were too achy from yesterday's hike to get to a quiet spot in Bulldog Canyon without driving, so I just parked near the Salt River and wandered around there for a while. I found several saguaros that had something strange about them. Here are pictures.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Picketpost Mountain

Date: November 3, 2007
Location: Picketpost Mountain, near Superior, Az.
Time and temperature: Start - 1123, 82
End - 1718, 78
Elevation change: 1757 feet
The numbers:
51 Pictures taken
7 Other hikers seen
6 Times I lost the trail
4 Times I seriously thought about turning back

Ramblings: Wow, what a hike. What a killer of a hike. I did have fun, though.

I started out by starting too late. I should have shopped for supplies last night. It was a little warm by the time I got on the trail, but it wasn't hot enough to be a problem. The problem was limited daylight. A sign said the parking area closed at sunset. There was a caretaker there that would probably have my truck towed if I was late getting back.

The trail was not bad for the first mile or so, except for how far away the mountain looked. I kept thinking that I wouldn't want to walk that far on level ground, much less on ground that looked like it went straight up. Then I met Conrad. He was sitting in the shade of a large rock on the side of the trail. He was waiting for his son and grandson to get back from the top. He seemed embarrassed that he had to sit there and wait. He talked about training with a heavy pack and coming back. He turns 75 next month. I think he's doing pretty darn good.

Just past Conrad's rock, the trail got steep. Then it got steeper. The trail was also difficult to follow in places. It's marked with cairns and paint spots, but a lot of times I would be walking (or climbing) on what seemed to be the trail, and it would just end. I would look around for a few minutes trying to find a trail marker and sometimes explore a little ways in various directions before I found it again. One of those times was when the trail was going up the middle of the canyon and up ahead I could see that it was nothing but polished rock going almost straight up. I might be able to climb it, but it looked too risky. That was one of the times I thought about going back. I looked around and saw that the trail went to the left, though, so I continued my quest.

There were also times when I knew I was on the trail because I could see markers up ahead, but the trail still looked treacherous. Several times I had to stand there and pick a route, take a few steps, then stop and make sure the route still looked like it would work from this new vantage point. Sometimes I would stand there planning the next 2 or 3 steps and going over the plan again and again before moving. The trail was sort of scary on the way up.

At about 2 in the afternoon, I stopped to have a snack. I got to thinking about how much sunlight was left and thinking that maybe I should turn back now. I got out the GPS to see how far I was from the summit. It was 0.3 miles distant and 400 feet higher. I thought about coming back next weekend and realized that the memory of how difficult the climb had been would be too fresh. I had to go on; it's now or never.

The rest of the way to the summit wasn't too bad. There's a mailbox full of notepads for people to write stuff at the summit. A note written on aluminum inside the door of the mailbox explains its history (see the pictures). The note reminds me of Dad's humor.

I figured I should leave the summit at 2:30 to get back to the truck before sunset. I got to the summit at 2:40, though. I took a few pictures and left at 2:51. That reminded me of going on trips with Dad. Drive for hours and hours, stop and look around a few minutes, then drive back.

The hike back down was really scary because I could see what I had my back to before. I would be walking along a steep downward slope and it would look like it ended at a sheer cliff ahead. Sometimes that was because I had lost the trail. Sometimes it was because that's what the trail was like. Well, I didn't have to go off the cliff, but I would turn up ahead or it wasn't quite as bad a cliff as it looked like. I was going slowly and carefully. Fortunately, my thighs didn't start cramping until I was back down to Conrad's rock. I felt relieved because the trail wasn't nearly as steep from there on down to the parking lot. It was a lot steeper than I remembered, though. It was a shame I had to hurry. I think I could spend several days on that trail taking pictures of all the neat stuff.

I Geotagged all of the pictures, but the ones in the canyon are just guesses. Google Earth isn't detailed enough there for me to figure out exactly where I was.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Sunset near the Superstitions

No time for a hike before sunset today, but I went out to the Massacre Grounds trailhead and climbed a rocky hill to watch the sunset. It was very nice. I took some pictures of the sunset for Peggy.