Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gary visits Bulldog Canyon

I must not have pushed Gary too far on our last hike. He went to Bulldog Canyon with me on Tuesday. We didn't see a lot of people out there; one Hummer load of tourists and an empty pickup. Well, the pickup meant there were people around somewhere. Anyway, it was a typically quiet day in Bulldog Canyon. We hiked to the top of a low ridge and watched the sunset on our way back down.

A view from the top of the ridge.

We came across something I haven't seen up on that ridge before. Mosquitoes. They were only mildly pesky. Not at all like Houston mosquitoes (that seem like ravenous vampires to me). I didn't get bit, and I only swatted at them once or twice. Arizona mosquitoes are wimps, thank goodness.

Another view.

It rained all Tuesday morning and was very cloudy after lunch. It finally started to clear a little when we headed for Bulldog Canyon. The ground was soft in places, but our shoes didn't get caked with mud.

It was clear to the west by sunset.

I thought it might be dark by the time we got back to the truck, but we had plenty of light. The moon was half full, but that might not have been enough light with all the grassy and weedy stuff on the ground. I think it was a little too cool for rattlers after sunset, fortunately.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

A green Garden Valley

When I left the house yesterday, I was thinking about going for a hike near Canyon Lake. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wanted to get further away from crowds of people. I decided it would be a good time to see what Garden Valley looks like after some rain. The last couple of times I had seen it, it looked pretty desolate.

I thought that it would probably be a quicker hike than when I'd been out there before because I knew the way now (I was taking the "back trail" and because I had already taken pictures along that route. Silly me. I found plenty more to take pictures of.

Spring breakers?

Saguaros blew over out here, too.

There were lots of flowers to photograph.

I only saw 4 other hikers on the way out there. As I walked along the trail, I imagined what I might find in Garden Valley. Maybe it would be carpeted in Mexican Gold Poppies. Or maybe it would look like a Texas hillside, blanketed with blue lupines. It was covered with flowers, but not any that I had imagined.

Garden Valley is green. It is also covered with millions of flowers. Very tiny yellow flowers and almost invisible white flowers.

Garden Valley flowers.

Back-lit flowers, showing the spines that you do not want to get in your shirt this June.

It was getting late so I didn't stay there long. The hike back to the truck was pretty with the low sun, though it started to get a little cool. I still had to stop and take a few pictures.

It got dark enough that I could use a flash to make the blue lupines stand out.

The last few times I've taken pictures of flowing water, I thought that I should have a neutral density filter so I could blur the flowing water. But then I'd have to carry a tripod around. It got dark enough on the way back that I didn't need the filter. I sat on rocks and put my elbows on my knees so I could hold the camera still for half a second. The pictures turned out OK.

Half second exposure.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Not Four Peaks Brewing Company

I worked with Gary for a few years in Houston. Every March he comes out to the valley for about a week. We usually meet one evening at Four Peaks Brewing Company and catch up over good beer and good food. I've always told him he should go for a hike with me some time. This year he finally did.

I was originally planning to go off-trail in Bulldog Canyon. Then I got to thinking about how rough and steep it would be and how it would be difficult to see where it was safe to put your feet with all the spring growth hiding rocks and snakes, so I had about decided that we should probably stick to a well-traveled trail. What cinched it was when Gary got out of his truck wearing shorts. He would never leave the pavement again if his legs got full of cholla and prickly pear spines or if cat claw acacia ripped them up.

I decided to head out to the Boulder Canyon trail by Canyon Lake. It's wide, not too steep, and there are great views all around. Also, the drive out there along Apache Trail is very nice.

It was a beautiful day. It was also the warmest day of the year so far. There was a nice breeze, though.

Gary taking pictures from a precarious perch. Actually, it's not as bad as it looks.

I took several pictures as these people came down the trail. This guy asked if I was going to send the pictures to them. I told him to Google my blog and he asked me to tell his wife what to search for. If they find this, I hope they leave a comment to let me know they did.

There are getting to be a lot of flowers. I got a few pictures of them.

I've seen lots of bird nests in cholla. This one had a couple of birds in it.

On the way back down to the Marina, we took the side trail towards La Barge Canyon. We didn't go all the way down to the stream (which is still flowing, BTW). Gary got a little taste of what it might be like off trail, though, because it's a little steep and the plants crowd the trail.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another EveryTrail map

I've been putting recent trips / hikes on EveryTrail. Here's the White Canyon hike. If you look at the elevation profile, you'll see that GPS satellite reception isn't very good in narrow canyons.

White Canyon, White Canyon Wilderness Area

Map your trip with EveryTrail

Sunday, March 14, 2010

White Canyon, first hike

Saturday was a beautiful day. I was really curious to see what White Canyon is like, so I decided to brave the Renaissance Fair traffic and head out there. The traffic wasn't nearly as bad as I was afraid it would be on such a pretty day.

BTW, I found a map of the White Canyon Wilderness area. has maps of all wilderness areas. It's pretty cool.

Battle Axe Road was rougher than it had been the last time I was on it. Rain water had cut notches through it. Parts of the road that follow a stream bed had changed quite a bit since last time. I parked as close to White Canyon as I thought I could. I didn't want to try climbing the hill out of there and finding out that I couldn't after a long, tiring hike. I could save a mile to a mile and a half of walking by going driving down that hill, though. I'll have to figure out some way of determining if it's too steep.

I was walking by the time I got to here.

Vehicles on the steep hill.

The temperature was about 70 when I started out. It was nice, but I got chilled if I sat in the shade of a boulder for too long. There was plenty of shade under boulders, too. There are dump truck size boulders all over the place.

Some large boulders.

There were waterfalls scattered here and there. I got pictures of a few of them. I also took too many pictures of the stream, because that's what I do. The water is what slowed me down most of the way and eventually stopped my progress. I guess it wouldn't have mattered if I didn't mind being it ankle to thigh deep water, but it was cold. I think the water flows year round, but I think I'll see what it's doing in July. Of course, it'll be too hot to hike then.

This is where I stopped. I might have been able to get around this, but the brush was getting thick and I was tired of pushing through it.

White Canyon is beautiful. There's plenty to explore, too. I need to find a way to get through the brush, though. I wonder if machetes are allowed in wilderness areas. Catclaw grabbed me several times. The time it grabbed my armpit really hurt. That reminds me, near the beginning of the hike, a young couple was behind me. Once, I heard the girl saying, "Ow, ow ow!" I didn't see them any more after that.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Monday, March 08, 2010

Water in La Barge Canyon

It was kind of cloudy on Saturday, but not cloudy enough to keep people away from the Renaissance Fair. White Canyon Wilderness was out. I decided to go to La Barge Canyon and see if there was water flowing there. It had been almost a week since it had rained, so I didn't expect more than a trickle of water.

It was pretty warm on Saturday, in the mid to upper 70's. The trailhead parking lot was just about full. I saw a lot of people on the trail. Some were even running (show-offs). They all stayed on the main trail, though. I didn't see any hikers after I took the side trail to the canyon.

Wispy clouds.

Seeing this brought back memories. The water seems higher now.

I've decided that upper 70's is my favorite hiking temperature. If it's colder, I'll still sweat when I'm going uphill and then my arms and ears freeze. If it's in the upper 70's, I won't get cold even if I stop in a nice breeze.

It was a nice day for pictures of the lake.

As I approached the last rise before descending into the canyon, I could hear the water. It sounded like a lot more than a trickle. I got a few pictures before I went out on a rock outcrop that has a nice view down stream.

A fair amount of water.

This is what I heard.

Looking towards the lake.

This is a picture of a lizard (bet you can't find it), but look how clear the water is. It's probably 3 or 4 feet deep here.

I went on down to the stream and stepped out onto boulders in the stream and took way too many pictures because that's what I do around water these days. If I was still in Houston, I'd probably be taking pictures of things that weren't mildewed (if I could find any).

A calm part of the stream.

A not-so-calm part of the stream.

I was kind of wishing I hadn't put off buying some ND filters, but if I had them, I would also have to be carrying a tripod around, and my pack seems to be getting heavier all the time. Earlier today I was in Big 5 and saw a really small shovel I could carry in my pack. I probably should have gotten it. One of these days I'll need it and it will be back there on the store shelf. Anyway, before I got to the canyon, I was thinking that I might see how far up the canyon I could go. As it turns out, I couldn't go far. It wasn't long before I got to a place with water from wall to wall.

This is about as far upstream as I could go.

It was shady here, so I set the shutter speed to 1/10 second and stood verrry still. I should have set the ISO to 100, too. Now I think of it.

I could tell that the stream had been a lot higher, probably during the rain the previous weekend. Some day I'll make it out there during a good storm and get pictures of the rapids. I got pictures of a few flowers on this hike, too. Click below to see all of the pictures, including the flowers, and to find out where that lizard is.