Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I chose a moderately difficult hike since I wasn't sure what kind of shape Steve was in. He was breathing a little harder than me, but he was eager to do some exploring and I think he would have followed me to the top of the Superstitions (if I could have made it up there myself).
Steve also wanted to try out his new Toyota Highlander on some rough roads. We discovered that it does not have real high ground clearance. The side rails scraped rocks a couple of times. Other than that, it performed very nicely. It didn't have any trouble at all getting through the soft "sand" in the bottom of washes. I think my next vehicle is going to have to have four wheel drive. It may be a long time before I can get that, though. I think my Tacoma is going to last forever (and that's a good thing).
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The last time we were down there was an exhausting trip. We had to do a lot of scrambling around to go upstream. This time, Kyle wanted to see what was in the downstream direction, and neither one of us was too enthusiastic about struggling upstream again. We went a little ways upstream, to a part where we had to do a lot of climbing and pushing through bushes the last time, and decided that was far enough.
It was nice that the sun was shining this time. I think the air was a little dryer, too. It was cooler (mid 40's). I was wearing a long sleeve shirt, but it was almost too much with all the scrambling around.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I can't find the name of the creek that winds through there, but the road crosses it several times. There was water flowing in it today. I came to a spot where I decided it might be too deep for me to cross and stopped. Then an ATV went across and I could see it wasn't very deep, so I crossed again. About 100 feet later I came to another spot I didn't want to cross, and saw other potentially troublesome spots further up stream. I decided to not push my luck.
I got out and scrambled around on the rocks some, and took a few pictures. While I was up there, this guy on a bike stopped in the middle of the stream. I don't know why. He stayed there at least a minute. I wonder if his boots were waterproof.
He didn't have any trouble crossing the stream in other places. Another guy did. First, though, take a look at him in this picture. Notice that he is wearing tennis shoes (or something similar) that he is trying to keep out of the water.
Now here he is, stuck. He's still making some effort to keep his feet dry.
Here you can see that he has abandoned all hope of keeping his feet dry.
The air was in the mid 40's. I doubt that the water was any warmer. I don't see how his ride after that could have been any fun at all. I would have had only two things on my mind after something like that. A hot shower and dry clothes. OK, I'm a wimp, I admit it. But I like to be a warm, dry wimp. I'll tolerate cold, but not wet and cold.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
There may be snow on the Superstitions tomorrow. I'll have to remember to get out and look early tomorrow.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
We were hoping to see some waterfalls. There wasn't enough flowing water, though. We hiked to the bottom of the 90 foot waterfall. There was water dribbling over it, but it wasn't much of a waterfall.
I made a video so you could hear the water flowing.
And here's the map. Since we were in a canyon, we didn't have very good GPS coverage. If you look at the altitude vs. distance graph, it looks like we took an elevator up and down a tall buidling in the middle of the hike. We didn't. I think there were altitude errors due to the poor GPS coverage. It also looks like we didn't have good coverage for the SPOT (don't know if that was a GPS problem or communication satellite problem). It didn't report location for over an hour, and it should have been doing it every 10 minutes. I'll have to remember to not have any disasters in a canyon ;-)
We were halfway thinking about hanging around at the base of the falls until some water started flowing. Yep, in a desert. Could be there for months. Actually it started to rain while we were there. We had umbrellas. I was thinking about what it would be like if a wall of water came roaring down that narrow canyon. I was starting to get cool, too. Fortunately Kyle was getting cold, too, so he didn't mind heading back. It sprinkled off and on all the way back and started to rain hard just after we got in the truck.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
The day started out with high thin clouds (which are bad for landscape photography), but they cleared away in the afternoon. It was cool. I forgot to check the temperature but it must have been around 60 when I started out. I was trying to hurry because I wanted to get back before sunset. I expected the temperature to drop a lot as soon as the sun was gone. Since I was hurrying, I was dripping sweat all the way up and most of the way down.
By the time I was on the way down, most of the trail was in the shadow of the Superstitions. It felt like it must have been in the 40's, but there was no breeze at all. I was still sweating, but my forearms and hands were so cold I could hardly get the lens cap on and off.
The pictures turned out OK, but I've gotten much better ones out there. I'll blame it on the time of year.
The waterfall at the end of the trail had water pouring over it. I made a short video. If you turn the sound up you will be able to hear the water splashing on the rock.
The map and pictures:
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had bought a SPOT satellite messenger. It uses GPS for navigation, which works most places that I go. It also uses satellite communication to relay status information. I can send an "I'm OK" signal, or a "I'm broke down in the middle of nowhere. Send help" or an "I'm injured. HELP!" message. I also signed up for the tracking service, which allows people to go to a web page and see where I am, almost real time (location is transmitted every 10 minutes). That was handy the last time I drove to Texas. Instead of people trying to talk to me as I was loosing my cell signal, they just checked the web page and knew where I was.
Many of the places I hike, even "close" to town, don't have cell service. I've gotten home an hour or more after sunset a couple of times and Sweetums says, "Oh, there you are. I was worried." I always wondered how much she would worry before she tried to call and decided that I must be in trouble. Sometimes I tell her to start worrying if I'm not home by a certain time, but then I feel like I have to watch the clock to be sure I'm back to a cell phone service area so I can check in with her before my time is up. I don't want to be rescued if I don't need it.
Anyway, this satellite messenger is the perfect solution. Sweetums can tell where I am and if I'm moving, so she doesn't have to worry. I don't have to worry, either, because if I get in trouble all I have to do is push the "911" button. Unlike my cell phone or camera, the SPOT works at temperatures much higher than I can stand, it floats, and so far I've dropped it on the garage floor once with no apparent damage. Now, if I ever have trouble, I have to remember to do it in such a way that I don't smack my head or drop my SPOT in a river or fall on it and smash it or something like that. You know what they say; try to make something idiot proof, and somebody will come along with a better idiot.
I'll have a link to my tracking page on the right side of my blog so anybody can check it. Maybe you'll catch me on a hike. Right now it still has the data from my last hike on it.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 14, 2008
On the way out to the hill, I was following a faint trail that I always thought had been made by deer. Today I saw two sets of footprints. They had been made earlier today, because any others would have been erased by last night's rain. Oh, yeah, it rained last night. So maybe a lot more people go out there than I had realized.
It was in the low 50's today. Still, I worked up a little sweat on the way up the hill. There was a slight breeze at the top, so I had to stay off of the top to keep from freezing. I took a lot of AEB pictures while up there to make HDR images. In one of them, I accidentally got two wild horses. I wish I had known the horses were there so I could have gotten a better picture. They are in this picture. Find them! The first to locate them wins an autographed print of the picture (if I can get my stupid printer to work). I doubt that you will be able to find them by looking at this small version of the picture, so click on it and then magnify the image on the page it takes you to.
While I was on my way down the hill, I heard water dripping in Spooky Canyon. I could see a place that there might be a waterfall. I hiked over there and sure enough, there was a tiny waterfall. I made a movie and if I can get it to upload to YouTube, I'll put it here. My first attempt to upload failed.
Here's the map and pictures. Note that I didn't put exactly the same group of pictures on the map and on the album. It's late, and I'm tired.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Anyway, it was an overcast and gloomy day. I was afraid that pictures wouldn't come out very good, and they didn't. Also, I was not very impressed with the scenery. It was kind of blah. On the other hand, it was a very nice and well-maintained park. Trail intersections are marked with signs. If you carry the map given to you at the entrance, it would be darn difficult to get lost (but I have run across people that could do that).
Once we got into the park a little ways, we could no longer hear the cars in Phoenix International Raceway. We couldn't hear cars on nearby roads. We couldn't hear birds. The covey of quail we stirred up even flew away silently. It was eerily quiet, except for the occasional plane flying over.
I tried to create a photosynth of one of the mountains. I don't like the way it turned out. I don't think I picked a good subject, and I certainly didn't have enough pictures. Photosynth was happy with the pictures (it was 100% "synthy"!) and did a good job of putting them together, though. Click here to see it.
If you look at the @trip representation of the hike, you can tell where I was when I took the pictures for the photosynth.
Finally, here are the pictures. These are the same ones that are on @trip. Nothing spectacular, or even very interesting.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
The only pictures that look halfway decent are HDRIs, except for one picture of a helicopter that Kyle took.
It wasn't much of a hike, but I used the i-gotU anyway.
I ran across something the other day that I thought might be great for documenting hikes, but after reading about it some more I decided it wouldn't be good for that because I would be taking pictures 90% of the time and hiking 10%. I'm still going to experiment with it to see what I can create. It's called Photosynth and it's free software from Microsoft. It takes a bunch (a big bunch) of pictures of something and synthesizes a "3D" view from the pictures. At first I thought it would be cool to create photosynth's of mountains or canyons, but it would probably take months to get all the pictures necessary for something of that scale. I'll think of something easier to use it on, though.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
I always tell people in Texas about how nice and dry it is out here. I hear that it rained here almost the whole time I was gone, though. It was pretty humid today. I could see evidence of all the rain on the hike. Looked like lots of grass was sprouting.
I hiked on a trail at the end of Idaho road that I haven't been on for a couple of years. The scenery is pretty along the way. There's a mysterious radio transmitter at the end.
@trip has a new feature. You can view the hike in 3D. It's really cool. Today's hike looks a little boring in 3D, but the hike to the top of Lone Mountain looks good.
Friday, November 21, 2008
As I was standing on the peak, a plane flew by, far below me. The pictures of it aren't very good for several reasons but mostly because I grabbed the wrong camera. I guess that's the problem with carrying so many. Anyway, I don't think that plane should have been that low.
As usual, it's late and I'm tired. Here's the map and pictures. I think some of the pictures turned out pretty nice.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I have lots of pictures to process and tracks to generate, etc., etc., but I'm too tired now. Maybe I'll have a chance tomorrow. In the mean time, here are a few pictures. The first is a view of the Fountain Hills fountain from near the peak of Lone Mountain.
Next, a couple of pictures of the Superstition Mountains.
And finally, the setting sun.
One quick story about something funny that happened on the way down the mountain. I was getting close to the bottom of the mountain. It was pretty dark by then. I was having a little trouble seeing the trail even though it's well worn (almost got a flashlight out). I was mostly watching where I was putting my feet (didn't want to step on a rattler in the dark) but would glance ahead now and then. Once when I looked up, there was a teddy bear cholla just to the side of the trail, at a spot where the trail curved, so with a quick glance it looked like the cholla was on the trail. Under certain lighting conditions (twilight, stormy weather), the needles of teddy bear chollas almost seem to glow. Their trunks are usually dark brown or black. So I glanced up and saw this thing on the trail. It's shape made it look like a man wearing a white shirt dark pants. I was slightly surprised to see somebody coming up the trail in the dark.
Have you ever noticed how, if you don't get a very good look at something, your brain will try to help you out by filling in the details? My brain had already filled in a lot of details by turning this indistinct, almost glowing shape into a hiker, but it didn't stop there. Nope, it's got more imagination than that. I also believed that I saw the hiker's left leg moving forward, and his right arm swinging forward. Wow, such detail from just a glance in the dark. Well, my brain must have been so busy filling in visual details that it neglected to do anything about sound. Here's a hiker walking up a rocky trail (crunch, crunch, crunch), uphill (pant, pant), lots of movement in baggy clothes (swish, swish), but I heard absolutely nothing. Nothing * at * all. That's what freaked me out. As soon as I had moved my eyes back to the trail, my brain had filled in loads of visual detail but left out the sound. I immediately looked up to figure out how he could be so utterly and completely silent and saw the cholla. Whew! I don't have to run back up the mountain.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I sat at the base of a cliff taking pictures for several minutes. During that time, my GPS data logger seems to have wandered around by itself. Suzanne said that maybe one of the hawks took it for a ride. The trip statistics say that my average speed was 8 kph and my maximum speed was 5 kph. I don't know how that's possible. Maybe because I was moving so much when I wasn't moving. Also, my minimum altitude was 91 meters below sea level. Blub, blub. Maybe being next to a cliff in a canyon blocked most of the GPS satellite signals.
I used to have the data logger set up to log my position every 6 seconds. I bumped it up to 10 seconds and that seemed to double how long the battery should last. I was thinking that might be because it doesn't write to EEPROM as often, but maybe it's because it shuts down the receiver for longer logging intervals and doesn't get as good of a fix when it comes back on. Anyway, I set it back to 6 seconds and we'll see how it does on my next adventure.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I keep saying "we". A friend and coworker went hiking with me today. We used to hike together a couple of years ago, but he got too busy with school to hike for a while. Paul is taking a break from classes now, though.
I was looking at Google Earth a couple of days ago and saw what looked like it might be a route to the top of a ridge I've been trying to get to for a few years. That's where we went today. I don't think we even got halfway up to the top of the ridge, though. That's OK. The view was terrific where we were.
Near the beginning of the hike, a couple of hawks kept flying over us and screeching. I don't know if they were screeching at us or at each other. Here's one.
After a while, one of them perched on this rock and watched us for a long time.
We stopped climbing when the trail got uncomfortably steep. This is looking up towards the ridge. It looks too steep to walk up.
It looks like I could walk up this way, though.
Or maybe over that way.
You can see Spooky Hill, Horse Shoe Mountain, Red Mountain, Fountain Hills, and a bunch of other stuff in this picture.
My GPS data logger seemed to work OK. At least I didn't have any trouble downloading the data this time. My position seemed to jump around a lot, though. I think the military must have been messing with the signals or data.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
I haven't spent much time in Bulldog Canyon lately, so I decided I would hike up to the first mountain ridge I ever climbed there. I've driven to that general area several times in the past. I headed out there at about 2 in the afternoon. Along the way, there are a couple of rough spots in the road that are difficult to climb. Usually, I just lock the rear axle and drive up. That didn't work yesterday, though. I even tried getting a little bit of a run up. All I did was stir up dust. It doesn't look as steep or rocky in this picture as it does when you are driving on it.
No problem, though. I was within easy walking distance of my destination. I parked and before I even opened the door, I realized that I had forgotten my backpack. Dangit. Can I even go for a hike? Well, I've got 3 bottles of water, and I can carry them in a Walgreen's bag. OK, less water than I had planned on, so I can't go as far, so I can't go to the ridge I was planning to visit. Well, I'll just wander around and maybe I'll see something interesting. As I meandered aimlessly in a generally southward direction, I glanced up here and halfway thought about seeing if I could find a way up there.
It wasn't long before I had forgotten about the little hindrances and was enjoying the view.
I had been cold in the morning so I was wearing a black T-shirt on the hike. It was close to 80, though, so I felt a little warm in the sun. I took advantage of what shade there was.
I finally got a picture of the most dangerous animal in the desert (I was attacked by them 3 times on this hike) today. They look so cute and cuddly, but don't be fooled. They lay traps all over the desert, usually in places that you might think you can finally relax, trying to twist your ankles and leave you stranded out in the middle of nowhere. I've seen coyotes, javelinas, deer, wild horses, centipedes, tarantulas, scorpions, gila monsters, and rattlesnakes on hikes. Some of them have warned me away, but none of them have laid traps for me the way this devious little fur ball does.
Before long, I found myself at the top of the cliffs I had half heartedly thought about climbing as I started out on this hike. It was so pretty, I got goosebumps as I stood there looking around. I knew I wouldn't be able to get a picture of it, but I had to try.
I could have walked along, taking 360 degreee panoramas every 20 or 30 feet, and still not have begun to capture what I saw. With 2D pictures, the viewer can't tell that there's a large rock in the foreground with cliffs behind it. Without something for reference (such as people) there's no sense of scale or distance. I think of saguaros as the standard candle of the desert, but they aren't always where you want them to be, and their height can vary quite a bit.
Once I got to the tops of the cliffs, it was easy to find shade. There was a light breeze up there. At first I avoided the shade, though. As soon as I would step into it, my skin would feel icy cold. Once my sweat dried, though, the shade was comfortable. People that live on the Gulf coast of Texas have no idea what I'm talking about here.
I wandered around up there for about an hour. There are a lot of small "caves" in the rock.
The floors of the caves are covered in powdery dirt, and that's where ant lions live.
Some rocks look almost hollow.
After a while I noticed that the sun was getting low. There would probably be enough moonlight to walk, but not enough to pick a route, and I was in an unfamiliar place. I had to start back. A lot of people that are "lost" in the desert aren't really lost in the traditional sense of the word. They know about where they are, and they know where they want to be. They just can't figure out how to get to there from here. You usually can't go in a straight line. The route you pick may be blocked by cliffs. If you don't have the provisions or stamina to explore for a route, you're doomed. From up on the cliffs, I thought I could see a couple of quick routes back to the truck. Since it would be dark soon and I had no food, flashlight, or warm clothes (all in my backback, in the garage), I had to take the path with no unknowns; the way I came up. Even doing that, I made a couple of wrong turns, but I didn't wander far from my intended route before I figured it out. I got back to the truck before it was dark and still had a bottle of water left.
When I downloaded the pictures I was, of course, disappointed. The pictures look so blah compared to being there. You'll just have to go out there with me some time.
I was planning to make a trip map as I had for my last few hikes, but I ran into problems there, too. I was able to get most of the pictures geotagged, but the @trip PC software keeps crashing when I download the track. I need to write to their tech support. Their software also has a bug that corrupts file extensions of random pictures. At first I thought it was deleting my pictures, but I figured out how to recover them. There were a lot of pictures that I didn't think were worth putting on the web album, but it has 75 pictures anyway.