Saturday, January 31, 2009

Butcher Jones

Kyle wanted to ride the ATV again. He said, "Do you want to go riding?". That makes it sound like he's going to ride and I'm going to ride. A more literal interpretation would be that I would go riding and he wouldn't. So anyway, he took off on the ATV and I wandered around taking pictures. By the time I got back to the truck, he had the ATV loaded up and was ready to leave. I'm not falling for that again.

It was early in the day (the sun was high) and we weren't in a real scenic area, so I'm not very impressed with the pictures.

I tried something new this time. I sent pictures from my cell phone to a special web album so people could see live updates as I was hiking. Of course, that only works if I have a signal. Also, you can see that I'm not very good at taking pictures with my cell phone. You have to use the LCD screen, and you can't see that screen out in broad daylight. I could barely see well enough to compose the message when I stood in the shade of a palo verde. Here are the cell phone pictures.


Oh, only two of those were taken during the hike. The others were just messing around.

Here are the pictures from today.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Exploring Bulldog Canyon

I went back to Bulldog Canyon today. Same place I was yesterday. I did a little more hiking around near the "road", though. Speaking of roads, I was looking at the satellite view of that area on Google maps a few minutes ago and realized that I may not have been on the road. It's hard to say where the road is out there. None of the maps that I could find online even mention that part of Bulldog Canyon. It seems like not a lot of people go out there, either, which is great. I've quit going to the more popular parts of Bulldog Canyon on weekends because there are too many annoying people out there (but I'm easily annoyed, so it doesn't take many people). Anyway, about the road; I may not have been on the road. I see other roads that branch off from it. I thought maybe they were illicit roads when I went past them, but maybe not. The rules for Bulldog Canyon say that you are supposed to ride only on roads marked by vertical fiberglass markers. There is not one single vertical fiberglass marker in the area I've been in the past couple of days. Don't say it. There wouldn't be a gate if you couldn't drive in there at all, and there is a gate. I'll have to check out one of those other roads soon.

Riding the ATV and then hiking is quite a workout. I feel like I have to stand on the pegs on the rough spots to isolate the camera from the bumps. On the steep parts, I have to stand on the pegs to shift my weight around (to keep the ATV from flipping). By the time I was halfway back to the truck on the way out, I was going very slowly over the bumpy stuff and sitting down. Still have to stand on the steep parts, though. There is one steep part that is also very rough and very long (well, it seems long). I had to stop and rest on the way up today. It isn't real restful when your tires are on the verge of sliding and your vehicle is on the verge of tipping, though. Oh, I'm exaggerating for dramatic effect. Don't worry.

Speaking of dramatic effect, Sweetums asked Kyle if he really almost went over a cliff yesterday. He said no, then he said, "I was about 3 feet from it". No sweat.

Like yesterday, I'm writing this as I'm processing HDRIs. There seem to be a lot of pictures that I like but that I don't think would be interesting to other people. So even though I took about 100 pictures today, there are only 20 in the web album.


Yesterday's pictures

In case you haven't already noticed, I finally uploaded yesterday's pictures. While I was picking out which ones to upload, I noticed that a lot of them were very similar. Rather than make you wade through a bunch of pictures that are almost the same, I tried to upload just a sampling. Also, I'm going to let you entertain yourselves by matching up the pictures with yesterday's blog. That shouldn't be too hard, though, since most of the pictures have comments on them.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hewitt Canyon Rd and Bulldog Canyon

Wow. What a day. I saw so much beautiful stuff today that I don't think my eyes can take any more.

Did I mention that I had wanted to ride my ATV in Bulldog Canyon over the MLK weekend? I went to the DMV to get the off-road sticker that is required now. They were closed for MLK day, even though it wouldn't be MLK day for two more days. So I went to a third party place to get the sticker. I sure was glad they were open, because I really wanted to ride my ATV to the other side of Willow Basin and see what was over there. I had to wait in line for 45 minutes, but it would be worth it. The third party place charges $10 more for the sticker than the DMV (well, they're in business to make money). Worth it, so I could see what's out there. So I got the sticker, built a bracket to hold the license plate with the new sticker, put it all together, rolled the ATV out into the driveway, started it up, and after 10 minutes of warming up concluded that it wasn't running good enough to go anywhere. Dagnabbit. It had been sitting too long and the carb was gummed up.

Kyle messed around with it for a while. He was a little worried about taking the carburetor apart since we didn't have a very good diagram. He finally opened it up yesterday, squirted carburetor cleaner in a few places, and put it back together. It runs great now.

Kyle wanted to try it out today. We went out to Hewitt Canyon Road. I drove quite a way before stopping to unload the ATV. I wanted to be in a place with nice scenery and not a lot of people, so I could enjoy being out there while Kyle was riding. I'm glad I did that. He took off first, and I just kind of wandered around taking pictures. There were clouds on the mountains, and puffy clouds here and there, and sunlight peeking through here and there. I think I got some good pictures.

About the time I got back to the truck, Kyle came zooming back. I think he is unaware that anything other than full throttle exists on that ATV. He was hot from the exertion of riding. He said something about having to hit the brakes and skid to keep from going off a cliff, but at least he did it in a way that looked cool (he did a 180). Anyway, he was hot, tired, and ready to go home. I could go riding some other time.

Actually, that sounded like a good idea to me. I wanted to go see what was at the other side of Willow Basin. I wasn't ready to leave yet, though. There was another hill I wanted to explore. While I was up there, Kyle loaded up the ATV. I found something interesting up there. I think it must have been built by hikers or boy scouts, though. It isn't in a good place to be very useful to anybody else, and the craftsmanship doesn't look like what you would expect from somebody that would depend on the structure for something important.

I don't know how far Kyle went on that road. He must have gotten near the Roger's Trough trailhead. He said he was up in the clouds for a while. When you're down low looking up at the clouds, it seems like it might be cool to be up in them. But when you are, you can't see anything and it pretty boring.

I'm not very good at using the macro feature on my new camera. I think I know why. Some time when I don't have anything else to explain, I'll talk about that.

So we headed back home. I ate lunch and looked at a few of the pictures, and processed a few of the HDRIs. I've been trying to not take so many HDR pictures lately because it takes so much time to process them. That's the only way I can the clouds to look good, though. Since there were lots of clouds, most of the pictures are HDRIs.

After lunch I hurried out to Bulldog Canyon. I went to the part near Canyon Lake, where I've been hiking a few times lately. I unloaded the ATV in the parking lot at the entrance. I'd forgotten what a rough ride there is on that ATV. I think the suspension is set a little stiff for somebody as light as me. I stand on the pegs a lot to cushion the ride. Then whenever I stop to walk around some, my legs are real wobbly. I guess it wouldn't do much good to ride the ATV to a place to hike instead of walking. My legs would still be tired.

The road I was on does not connect to any other roads in Bulldog Canyon. The scenery was spectacular. My pictures don't even come close to showing how beautiful it is out there. I know where I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the coming months.

The area was in a canyon. Canyons tend to be dark, except where the sun is shining. So there were very dark places and very light places, and of course there were clouds, too. More HDRIs. It takes a lot of time, but these are situations that I used to dislike because I couldn't get decent looking pictures. Now, finally, I can.

I've been writing this blog while the computer is crunching pictures. It's getting late, though, and I don't think I'm going to finish tonight.

The road I was on doesn't exactly end. It just gets more and more difficult to make any progress. I finally got to a point where I either had to go through 2 foot deep water (ain't gonna happen) or go off a drop-off that would probably cause me to do a flip. I was just getting to the really pretty part, too. I'll have to drive out there, chain the ATV to a saguaro, and hike through the rest of the canyon.

I can't keep my eyes open any longer. I'll have to finish this tomorrow. Here are a couple of pictures until then.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


For a few years, I've been putting pictures in Panoramio now and then. You can see them in Google Earth if you happen to look in the right place. I ran across something tonight that describes how to put a map containing your Panoramio photos on your blog. Here's an example with some of my pictures of the Bulldog Canyon area.

The map above is limited to displaying 20 photos, so it doesn't show all of the ones I have in that area.

I don't have near as many photos around Wharton. Here's a map of that area.

I've uploaded a lot of photos to Panoramio lately, and it takes a while for them to get selected and then show up in Google Earth. You can see all of the photos I've uploaded by clicking here. I have over 250 photos on there, so it might be easier to look at them on the web page than to search Google Earth.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Short hike with Lindsey

Lindsey and I went for a short hike near the intersection of Usery Pass road and Bush Highway. I think I got some nice pictures. Lindsey's hiking boots are in storage so she wasn't very comfortable walking around on the rocks. We were going to watch the sunset but Lindsey got cold. We watched it was we drove home. It's better that she didn't have to hike down that hill in the dark wearing chucks.


Wandering near Apache Trail

Yesterday I was planning to ride my ATV around Bulldog Canyon. It wouldn't run good enough, though. It's been sitting too long. Kyle and I spent half of today taking it apart and trying to find a service manual. Anyway, yesterday afternoon I went to a spot on Apache Trail where it looked like I could get to the top of a hill that overlooked the hill I was on yesterday. It was an easy 5 or 10 minute climb to get up there. Here's a picture looking down on the hill that took me so long to climb on Saturday.

From 2009_01_18

I saw a couple of people on horses. They stopped by that saguaro that fell over that I took a picture of a few days ago. It's the saguaro where one arm rolled down the hill a ways. The people sat on their horses in that same place for at least 5 minutes.

From 2009_01_18

There was a good view of Apache Trail from up there, if you like noisy views of roads.

From 2009_01_18

It was really windy up there, which is bothersome when you are standing on cliff edges. I took a lot of pictures in the short time I was up there.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two firsts

Did you notice that the title of my last blog had nothing to do with what I wrote about? I noticed that when I was finished but I was too lazy to change it. Maybe I was tired. The days are too short to do much hiking after work. I have to cut the hike short because it gets dark. Today I left the house around 2, though. It was nice to see that area of Bulldog Canyon OHV area in sunlight. I was going to climb this hill today. It turns out that it is a lot bigger than it looks in the picture.

From 2009_01_17

I followed the road around to where I would start up.

From 2009_01_17

Shortly after I left the road, I saw something white about 50 yards to my left. In the past, all the white things I've seen in the distance in the desert were underwear. Tighty whiteys. I don't know why so many people leave their underwear in the desert. I almost kept walking but decided to see if it was underwear or something more interesting. Turns out it was the first skull I have ever found in the desert.

From 2009_01_17

There are more pictures in the web album. Somebody identify it for me. I'm guessing deer.

I'd better say what the other first is before I forget to. I got to the top of that hill for the first time. This was my third attempt.

I found this beautiful desert plant out there. There were some of these in our yard. I pulled them all this morning.

From 2009_01_17

On the way up a steep, slippery slope, I came across several dug up areas.

From 2009_01_17

I'm pretty sure a skunk did that. I say that because I could smell it. I'm glad I didn't wake it up.

It was pretty steep most of the way up. The view was wonderful once I got up there. It was noisy, though. It's right next to Apache Trail so I had the constant noise from Harleys and sport bikes.

As I was moving from peak to peak up there, I went past a teddy bear cholla. I heard my backpack brush against it. A little later I moved my arm back that way and look what happened.

From 2009_01_17

I had to get my pliers out of my left pocket with my right hand. I would pull one spine out and the ball would swing and jab another spine or two into my elbow. It took a while to get that thing off.

Have you ever seen something and then wished that you hadn't? I was on the way down when I looked to my right and saw something shiny in a bush. I didn't want to walk all the way over there to see what it was so I zoomed in with the camera. I still couldn't tell what it was.

From 2009_01_17

So I had to go over there. Turns out that it was a stake marking a mining claim. There seem to be a lot of those in this area.

The saguaros in this area have been shot a lot. On the way down, I came across this one that has a hole all the way through. I was there at just the right time to get this picture.

From 2009_01_17

There's more commentary on the @trip version.


Friday, January 16, 2009

The days are too short

I went back to the same place today, to climb the other hill. It's much bigger than it looked, though. I didn't even get around to the side I needed to be on to start climbing before it started getting dark. I'll have to go earlier in the day. Maybe this weekend. If my ankle isn't too sore.

I had a comment on one of my pictures yesterday that I thought would generate some questions. It didn't. Nobody asked about the skid mark where I fell. When I fell, I was so surprised by the fact that I was falling, and so busy preparing to hit the ground, that I was not able to remember why I fell. It's not because I'm absent minded or anything. It's a proven fact that if people are presented with certain types of information in rapid succession, the first piece of information can be so completely forgotten they will swear they never saw it. I knew I had fallen for some reason though, because the ground was approaching rather rapidly. I quickly thought about various options for getting my feet back under me or what parts of my body should hit the ground first and in what orientation, and what the possible consequences were in terms of injury or damage to cameras. I opted for landing in a sitting position with my left leg under me, with the foot to the right. It was a good choice. It was a soft landing. No joints were stressed; no muscles strained. No cameras experienced sudden shock or high G forces. Much to my amazement, I didn't even get any cactus thorns in my leg. All I got (or so I thought at the time) was two almost invisible scratches on my leg.

I kept trying to figure out why I fell. I could not remember what happened. I was walking down a slope that was not terribly steep. It should not have been a problem at all. The next thing I know, I'm headed for the ground. This morning I was trying to figure out why my ankle hurt. Then I put 2 and 2 together. I must have stepped on a rock that made my foot roll and then slide. I tend to take weight off of a leg as soon as I feel an ankle twisting. Hitting the ground has always felt a lot better than a twisted ankle.

Anyway, I'm feeling kind of lazy tonight. Here's all the stuff.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Short days

The days are still too short to do much hiking after work. I had to get out in the desert, anyway. I went out to a part of Bulldog Canyon OHV area that I've never been to before. I stopped when I got to a place it the road that it looked like I would be able to drive down, but not back up. I didn't want to get stuck out there.

There were a couple of nearby hills I could climb. I picked this one because from where I was, the other one looked unclimbable.

From 2009_01_15

When I got to the top, though, I could see that the other one could be easily climbed.

From 2009_01_15

I decided to take a different route on the way down, but came to a dead end.

From 2009_01_15

It was a short hike, though, so it wasn't any trouble to wander around until I found my way back.

Here's a funny picture. I carefully composed it to show the mountain in the background. Oops, what mountain?

From 2009_01_15

I wrote my description of the trip on the @trip server to tell a story with a moral for desert hikers, so don't skip this one.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Peralta Canyon Trail

I was trying to remember the last time I had taken the Peralta Canyon trail up to Fremont Saddle. Unfortunately, the dates on a lot of my old pictures got modified somehow, but it looks like the last time I was up there was October of 2004. I only took 24 pictures that day. It was one of those days with high, thin clouds that I don't like, so maybe that's why I didn't take many pictures.

When I left the house Saturday afternoon, I thought I was going to hike somewhere near Canyon Lake. I was surprised at how clear the air was, though. It had been so polluted on Friday that the Superstitions could barely be seen from our neighborhood. Since the air was so clear, I thought it might be a good day to hike the Peralta Canyon trail. If I had known I was going to do that, I would have left the house a couple of hours sooner. I only had 3 hours to get to the saddle and back before sunset. Also, the canyon was in shadow for the whole hike. Not good for pictures and I also got a little cool. I was sweating on the way up, but my ears and forearms were very cold. I put a sweatshirt on at the top (after I dried off) and was comfortable all the way back down.

Another reason I thought the Peralta trail might be nice is because my ankles were still a little achy from all the hiking I did over the Christmas break. Well, now I remember that the Peralta trail is tough on the ankles. It isn't real rough, but it's long (for me).

Back in 2004, I remember huffing and puffing quite a bit. I wouldn't have been able to carry on a conversation because I was breathing too hard. This time I don't remember breathing hard at all. Either I'm in better shape, or I move a lot slower, or stopping to take over 100 pictures gave me lots of time to rest.

There are a lot of hoodoos in the Superstition Mountains, and a lot along this trail.

From Peralta_Canyon_2009_01_10

There was also quite a bit of water flowing through the canyon. I was accompanied by the sound of splashing water for most of the hike.

From Peralta_Canyon_2009_01_10

I hurried most of the way up and back down. I didn't spend much time at the saddle, either. I made it back to the trailhead right about sunset. There's a sign-in log at the trailhead. It's supposed to help locate lost or injured hikers. It's in a box (for protection from the elements). Here's a picture of it with a shoe that was lost by a very small hiker.

From Peralta_Canyon_2009_01_10

The Peralta Canyon trail is very popular. It has a large parking area, and an overflow parking lot has been added. Both were full, except for one spot right by the trailhead that I took. Saved me some walking. Ha ha. Since I got such a late start, most of the people I saw on the trail were on their way down. There were people from 5 years old to their 80's on that trial. Boy, I hope I can still hike that trail when I'm in my 80's.

The nice thing about the late start is that I was the only person at Fremont Saddle. On the way down, I only saw two other groups of people on their way up.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

About pictures

I was web surfing earlier this week and ran across some web sites with incredible nature photos. First, there's Nature Photographers Online Magazine. There's some very nice stuff there. That web site led me to, which has some absolutely stunning pictures. On that site, Wayne Simpson has some breathtaking photos. I'll have to stop mentioning other photo web sites now because I've run out of superlatives. Anyway, I spent a couple of hours looking through all of the gorgeous pictures and went to bed depressed because I have nothing that comes even close to those pictures.

I thought about it all week.

I've decided that, all things considered, my pictures are good enough.

All of what things? First of all, the people that post those fantastic pictures are professional photographers. They do things like find a good place to take a picture, and then go to that place time after time until conditions are perfect for the picture they want. They spend many thousands of dollars on lots of heavy equipment. They work constantly to hone their skills. Their objective is a photo that expresses an idea or tells a story.

I'm an opportunistic photographer. I wander around and if I see something I like, I take a picture. Rarely do I go back under better conditions, and never looking for perfect lighting, etc. The camera that I use most now is as heavy a camera as I want hanging around my neck as I hike through the desert, and it has to hang around my neck because I'm not going to spend time getting a camera out of a backpack to snap a picture. I tell my stories in my blog; the pictures are just part of the story. I take them to show where I was and what I saw. They are documentation, not works of art.

My pictures show what I want them to show, and a few of them even look good. They may not hold a candle to the professional's results, but I'm comfortable with them. That's all that counts.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


The air has been kind of thick the past couple of days. I thought it might make for an interesting sunset, so I went out to the Massacre Grounds trailhead after work today. It wasn't a spectacular sunset, but it was very nice.


Friday, January 02, 2009

Another hike near Canyon Lake

I was looking at pictures from my last hike and realized that it might be pretty easy to hike to a spot that would overlook the dam that forms Canyon Lake. I've been wanting to see that dam for several years. It can't be seen from any roads. I had even thought about using a kayak to see it from the lake. Well, it turns out that you can hike to a spot to see the dam. You have to peer over a cliff edge to see it. I don't like being on cliff edges.

Near the beginning of the hike, I found a bunch of rocks that must have a lot of iron in them. There's a magnet stuck to the side of one in this picture.

From 2009_01_02

This is cool looking. It's a column of rock joined to the cliff face at its top and bottom. It has a spherical rock jammed between it and the cliff face.

From 2009_01_02

This made me a little nervous. Can you imagine the size of a rabbit that would make this shadow?

From 2009_01_02

Here's the dam, BTW.

From 2009_01_02

The best part about the hike is that I was able to get on top of one of those cliffs hanging over Canyon Lake. The view was fantastic all around. Here's a view of the lake from the cliff.

From 2009_01_02

In this picture, you can see the trail that Steve and I were on Tuesday.

From 2009_01_02

I got a couple of pictures of a squirrel.

From 2009_01_02

I also got a short video of a bouncing bird.

OK, time for a contest. The winner gets a framed, autographed picture of something. Since Lauren will probably know what the answer is without even looking, she can't put her answers as comments on the blog.

I frequently make minor edits to my pictures. The edits usually consist of changes to contrast or brightness and sometimes cropping. However, in the group of pictures from today's hike, I made edits to the contents of one picture. Which picture, and what edits were made?