Sunday, July 31, 2011

To the Cochran coke ovens, almost

In August of last year, I had gone a short distance north of the Florence Kelvin Highway before it got dark and I turned back. I've been meaning to check out that road in the daytime and since it was too hot to do much else yesterday, I went out there. There was a chance of storms, and I thought I might be able to get some nice pictures of storms too, but I usually manage to be in the wrong place to do that.

On Cochran Road, with rugged mountains in the distance.

I drove through that light shower on the way through Florence.

I made lots of stops along the way to take pictures. There are some pretty mountains on the other side of the Gila river. I think the only way to get back there would be to walk. Some roads get near them, but I don't think any go through them. I stitched together several panoramas and will put something close to the full size versions of those on Panoramio.

I think Skid and I had been on Cochran road several years ago. The river looked very familiar when I got down there. In spots, the river looked like it might be shallow enough to wade across, but the water was muddy so I don't know for sure. Also, it looked like it was moving fast enough that even if it didn't come up to your knees, it could knock you off your feet. I don't think I'll be trying to cross it.

The Gila river.

There were some nice clouds around, so almost all of the pictures are HDRIs. I think I got some nice pictures of rain showers, too. As I was driving out, I came to the top of a hill with a thunderstorm right in front of me. The lightning flashes were lasting a long time, at least half a second. I figured I should be able to get a picture of that. I caught a lightning bolt on my second attempt. Encouraged, I tried 10 or 15 more times and missed every one.

A slow lightning bolt.

With all the rain around, I was a little worried that I would get caught at a wash crossing. They were all dry, though. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Monday, July 25, 2011


The weather, that is.

I took half a day off Friday. Spent the time getting the bathroom ready to wallpaper. Spent Saturday wallpapering it. Lindsey's help shaved a day or two off the task. Anyway, by Sunday afternoon I was ready to get out to the desert.

As Sweetums and I ran an errand after lunch, there were some cute puffy clouds around. I didn't want to go hiking right then, though. Too sunny and hot. I finally left the house around 3:30, and by then the pretty clouds were gone. The gray sheet overhead kept me a little cooler, but when the dew point is over 50, it's going to be a tough hike.

Blah sky. I hardly took any pictures.

I was going to hike a short distance to a secluded spot, but after a couple of hundred feet I felt like I was pushing through molasses. Hot molasses. I could feel a slight breeze but it did very little to cool me off. This is a tough time of year to be out in the desert; for me at least.

I had planned to go back there but never made it.

As I plodded along, I kept looking at all the bare rock to my right and before I knew it, I just sort of started wandering up that way. I think some part of my subconscious didn't want to get too far away from the truck air conditioner.

Some people go hiking early in the morning during hot weather. I've tried that a couple of times but I start feeling panicky as the temperature rises and the sun grows more intense. I prefer knowing that as I get tired during a hike, the weather will be less taxing on me.

By the time I got back to the house, the clouds and the setting sun were doing very strange things to the lighting. I think I was out there during the worst lighting of the day. Oh, well, maybe I'll time it right next time. Click below to see all six pictures.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Barnhardt Trailhead

How many of you noticed that the title of this blog is NOT "Barnhardt Trail"? How many of you also know that I'm going to put off telling you why until later? Good job.

Sunday was another one of those excessively warm days. About 110 F as I left the valley. There were storm clouds to the east but a hot wind was blowing. Starting at about 4000 feet, I thought the temperature on the Barnhardt trail might be tolerable.

Ominous clouds east of the trailhead.

The dirt road up to the trailhead was in very good shape. It was only about 100 when I got to the large parking area at the end of the road. There was also a lot of shade because of all the clouds. Large, dark clouds.

The trail starts out going that direction (west). A storm is building to the left of this picture.

On the drive up, there was a long, almost level stretch of road that had some ruts from the last time it rained up there. It reminded me of that time I was sliding around in the mud up on the rim about a year ago, though it was dry now. I didn't want to get stuck in mud; Skid is in Texas and couldn't rescue me. I decided to walk along the trail for a short distance so I could leave quickly if it looked like it was going to get wet.

The trail starts out winding through junipers.

Some parts of the trail are rocky.

Some parts are not rocky. There was a huge fire in this area a few years ago, which explains the sticks in this picture.

The trail has a gentle slope and is easy walking, but the air was dead calm and the humidity was probably over 40%. I had sweat trickling down my face in no time. I was glad when it started sprinkling and gave me an excuse to turn around.

As I drove back down to the highway, admiring the clouds all around, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that seemed to be shaped like a lizard but was the wrong color. Well, it wasn't a lizard color that I am used to seeing. It was a collared lizard and it let me take a lot of pictures before it ran under a bush.

Collared lizard.

Shortly after I saw the lizard, I decided to stop and see how steep the drop-off was to the right of the road. I wandered around a little enjoying the view and spotted something else odd out of the corner of my eye. I've come across a few crested saguaros on my hikes and I have read that other cacti can have that same type of deformity. I finally found another cactus like that. It was a hedgehog cactus.

Crested hedgehog cactus.

It was a pleasant and relaxing trip. I'l be back to that trailhead when it cools off. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

NF 25

I went outside early yesterday morning to rearrange some stuff in the garage. It already felt very hot. I knew I'd have to go someplace high if I was going to hike. Turns out Phoenix had a record high yesterday; 118. That's just crazy.

Iron Dike doesn't look climbable from this side, but I think the north side is.

I had to take forest closures into account when deciding where to go. I decided to check out the view from the top of Iron Dike. It looks like a person should be able to walk up the north side of it, though I would be approaching from the south to reduce how much climbing I would have to do. When I left the house at 2 in the afternoon, it felt ridiculously hot outside. It was only about 98 when I got out of the truck near Iron Dike about an hour later. Being able to see a 20 degree drop in just an hour drive is nice.

The wind was blowing pretty good, too. It might have been stirred up by rain showers. I drove through the beginning of a dust storm as I left the valley. It's weird how much wind is created by these piddly little showers that barely get the ground damp. Anyway, one of those piddly little showers was south of me, and I could hear thunder. I wasn't worried about getting wet, but lightning could hurt. I decided that I would drive around out there rather than hike. I wasn't too disappointed, though. I didn't like the looks of all the bushy oak I would have had to push through on my chosen route.

NF 25. I've never been down there. It's labeled NF 201 on Google Earth, but the sign at the road says "25".

NF 25 is pretty smooth for a seldom-used forest road. It goes up the side of some almost vertical canyon walls. It's kind of nerve-wracking to look at the precipitous drop on your left as you drive along. The road ends at an old stock pen at the border of the Mazatzal Wilderness.

View of Mt. Ord. The forest on that side of the Beeline Highway is closed.

There are agave flowers all over the place.

I was hoping to get some nice cloud pictures, but the clouds weren't very photogenic. Click below to see all of the pictures.