I also wanted to go someplace I hadn't been before. I wound up parked on the side of the road east of Tortilla Flat. I had been there once before (got a video of a tarantula then), but I didn't go very far from the truck. Today I wanted to see if I could get to the other side of the canyon that's south of the road. If not, maybe I could at least get some pictures from inside the canyon.
I never even got to the bottom of the canyon, though. I found a route most of the way down, but the closer I got to the bottom, the harder it got to find a way around parts that were too steep. Then there was the possibility, with all that meandering back and forth, that I might forget the route back up. That wouldn't have been a real big problem today, though. I could see a dirt road (looks like it was the main road many many years ago) that I could follow back to Apache Trail.
I picked a good test for the boots. It was very rocky. I discovered a disadvantage to boots that don't wrap around the rocks you step on. When I stepped on rocks the size of large marbles that were on solid rock, they (and my foot) rolled away. I stayed extra far away from most cliff edges today. I also found out that my ankles are still sore from last weekend's hike, and going down steep inclines hurt. In fact, it was one of those days that I felt like my body was on the verge of falling apart, so I didn't push it.
As I was still on the way down towards the canyon floor, I ran across a plant that I haven't seen since the spring of 2005; desert broomrape. It was like running into an old acquaintance. I saw a lot of it in 2005, but none since then. It seemed like such a strange plant. I had never seen anything like it before. It was pretty, too. It took a few weeks back then, but I finally tracked down what it was. I sent a couple of pictures to a guy that has a web page on parasitic plants because he didn't have any good pictures of this one (orobanche cooperi), and he put my pictures on his web site. I felt famous. I've been looking for more plants like that since then, but haven't found any (unless you count mistletoe).
It was only 4:30 when I got back to the truck. I didn't want to drive back through Tortilla Flat during rush hour (small joke), so I decided to continue east for a little ways. There are some scenic canyons at the rest stop near Fish Creek hill and I have never been very satisfied with the pictures I've gotten of them, so I thought I'd see what I could do with Photomatix.
I was wandering along the trail out to the furtherest observation point when some people asked me of I could see the bighorn sheep. Wow, I've wanted to see some of those for years! They kept trying to tell me (very patiently) where to look but it wasn't until I got up next to them and followed where they were pointing that I saw the sheep. There were 10 or 12 of them perched on a cliff. A couple of them walked down and then back up the cliff face. It looked vertical from our perspective, but they moved like it was flat ground.
Click below to see all of the pictures. I didn't crop any of the pictures of the sheep, so remember to click on the "magnify" button to get a good view of them.