Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A late afternoon stroll

Now that it's cool enough to hike right after work, it also gets dark soon after work. So I hurried out to Bulldog Canyon after work and parked at the side of Bush Highway and headed for a hill that I wasn't sure I had climbed before. Once I got up there, it looked a little familiar. I think I had been up there when I hiked out to that pit dug in the middle of a relatively flat area.

This used to be a road that the local yokels used to go to target practice.

The sun was pretty low by the time I got to the top of the hill. I'm glad I finally figured out how to prevent all the pictures from having such a strong reddish hue that late in the day.

A stick. One of the most critical factors in photographing a stick is the position of the sun. It was a little too far north for this picture.

I only had time to cover about a mile. Took me an hour. I had to keep stopping to enjoy the view.

I took several pictures of this saguaro. Didn't like most of them.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Campaign Creek, part 2. And Bigfoot.

I went out to Campaign Creek again yesterday, to finish the photo point pictures. I saw more beautiful scenery. This time I made sure I had snacks in my backpack.

The view along the road.

Remember that steep hill that I was afraid to drive down last time? Well, when I was walking up and down it last time, I decided that it didn't look too steep. This time, I drove down it. That saved me a lot of walking, which was good since I was there in the middle of the day and it's still a little warm. Turns out that hill is called Skydive Hill.

Whenever I've looked at maps of that area, I've noticed something called "Reevis Mountain School" on the maps. I thought it must be an old one-room schoolhouse that had been in use many many years ago. Well, the road ends near there. Turns out it isn't an old schoolhouse after all.

The sign on the right was my first clue that the Reevis Mountain School is not what I thought it was.

It looked like nobody had been in the parking area (which was just a loop at the end of the road) for a while, so I left the truck windows open and took only my camera and GPS with me. I walked to the end of the road that continues past the parking area. The road goes to Reevis Mountain School. It was there that I learned that the school is still active. As I stood looking at the gate, I heard a large animal clomping around on the hill to my left. It didn't sound as clumsy as a cow or as light as a deer. I only saw a small part of it as it walked through the trees above me. I don't think there are elk in that area. It sounded like it had hooves, though. I didn't see any cows the whole time I was out there. Well, no live cows, that is.

Signs near the gate. I bet Peter gets tired of hearing Bigfoot jokes.

The first photo point I visited was near the gate, and I went over there to get the pictures. I was getting thirsty by the time I was done and was a little worried about the truck windows being open. The RMS sign seemed very inviting and I wanted to check out the place, but I headed back to the truck. Here is more info on the school, if you are interested.

When I got back to the truck, I drank some water and headed for the next photo point, which was just a few feet from where I parked. I was taking pictures when a side-by-side with a couple of guys in it pulled into the parking lot. I wasn't concerned until the engine shut off. Then I decided I should let them know the truck wasn't unattended. They were busy getting more beer out of their cooler and getting rid of the beer for which their lease had expired. I got in the truck and headed for the next photo point.

Here's a short video of Campaign Creek just upstream of the road. I made a video so you could hear the water and the birds. The birds were mostly quiet, though.

At the next photo point, I took the pictures a few yards upstream of the road and was headed back to the truck when a Suburban with a big winch on the front went by. I waved and they waved back. Later, when I had just two photo points left, I parked at the bottom of Skydive Hill. When I shut off the engine, I thought I could hear the Suburban approaching. I thought about that big winch. I thought about the fact that I still wasn't sure I could drive up Skydive Hill. I thought about how somebody driving a Suburban would love to gloat over helping a Toyota up a hill. I decided to try driving up the hill before the Suburban arrived. It was a piece of cake. I locked the rear axle part of the way but probably didn't have to.

I took my backpack to hike to the last two photo points, which was a good thing. I drank lots of water and ate some snacks along the way.

Here's a dead cow. At least, I think it's a cow. Hard to tell. I see bones all over the place when taking photo point pictures.

The hike to the next photo point was very scenic. I walked very slowly, enjoying the views.

The next photos are to be taken from the top of that ledge on the right. That tree that has fallen on the ledge completely blocks the downstream view, though. Would have taken too much sawing to cut branches out of the way.

It took me 3 hours to take a few pictures. Seems like a long time. I was having fun, though. I'm going to check out some of the side roads out there some time. I'll probably check out some of the hiking trails when the weather cools off a little more, too. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Spiders. Not.

A few years ago, I had been standing on some river rocks at the edge of the Salt River, and dozens of spiders came up from their hiding places between and under the rocks to hunt, "socialize", or search for a mate (actually, I have no idea why they were on top of the rocks). I got a few pictures then, but I thought a super panorama stitched together out of lots of pictures might look cool. I finally got around to doing that a couple of days ago. I think it was too late in the year, though. I only saw three spiders. Maybe it was too late in the day, too. It was too dark to get any good pictures.

One grainy spider picture.

I saw a few strange things out there. Lots of people go out there, though, so I guess strange things should be expected. First was a hole that somebody had dug in the sand of a wash. What made it strange was that it had boards around the sides, like it was a mine shaft. The hole had been filled in with rocks.

What's under those rocks? I'm not about to look. Help yourself.

The river almost always looks pretty.

The next strange thing was a dead cow. Well, dead cows aren't strange. I've come across dead cows everywhere that cows hang out. The strange thing about this one was that it was in a place where there shouldn't be any cows. Must have been dropped there by a UFO when the aliens were done with it. Wait. I just realized that maybe it's a horse. There are wild horses out there. I only paused near it long enough to get a quick picture. I can't hold my breath for very long when I'm hiking.

Putrid cow. Or horse.

The third strange thing was lots of pieces of fabric in trees. I guess the river left them there, but where did it get them? Also, I didn't know the river ever got that high. With all the dams on the Salt, I wonder if it's possible for it to flood right there any more. This was just a few miles downstream of the Stewart Mountain dam.

Fabric in trees.

Getting late. I like the way this turned out.

Except for the stinky cow, it was a fun hike. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

A long ride

Julia and Willie are visiting this weekend and wanted to go for a ride in the Ranger yesterday. It's finally cool enough to do that again. I wanted to show them a scenic area that nobody except hardcore off-road enthusiasts and ATV riders see. We went to Box Canyon road, at the end of Price road, east of Florence.

At our first picture-taking stop.

It was a beautiful, cloudless day. Well, I did see 2 small clouds. They were small, though. Julia almost couldn't find them. It was very cool in the morning, which I think is why they were wearing black. It was a little too warm for all that black by the time we were done.

Enjoying the view.

I was trying to make it all the way to the coke ovens on this trip, also. That's a very long trip, though. We drove 21 miles and still didn't get there. We were stopped by something I didn't want to take the Ranger over.

This is too big of a step for the Ranger. It's interesting how many vehicle parts are scattered along this "road". There were what looked like bicycle pieces here.

Scenic view.

I thought we might be out there for 2 or 3 hours, but it turned out to be about 5 hours. It had rained a few days earlier and we didn't encounter much other traffic until the last half hour or so, so there wasn't much dust. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Monday, October 03, 2011

Campaign Creek treasure hunt, part 1

Yes, this is just part 1. There were complications, as usual. One was my fault, and one was the weather.

There were a few nice clouds around when I got out there. There was rain in the forecast, though, and it was early in the day.

I got out there earlier than usual. Before lunch. I was planning to eat some of the food bars in a box in my backpack. Before I left the house, I checked to be sure that I had plenty of water, that all batteries were charged, that I had all the maps I might need, etc., etc. But I didn't look in that box.

Forty-five minutes later and those clouds have grown and are dropping some rain.

The first photo point I came to was easy to find and was right next to the road. The creek bed seems to have changed a lot since the original photos were take in '96. There were some features in the backgrounds of the originals that helped me get in the right spots for the photos, though.

There are some interesting rock formations in this area. Oh, and clouds are forming on this side of the lake, now.

I'm really glad I've been doing this photo point stuff. I've seen lots of beautiful areas that I probably never would have visited otherwise. I hope they don't run out of places that need to be photographed.

The next group of photo points was at the bottom of a hill. The road looked really steep from the top. Skid doesn't seem to mind coming to rescue me when I'm stuck somewhere within 20 miles of his house, but he might not be too enthusiastic about going all the way out to Roosevelt Lake. From the top of the hill, it was only 1 mile to the furthest photo point. An easy walk, so I left the truck at the top of the hill and walked. At the bottom of the hill, I decided to go after a photo point that was about 75 yards upstream of the road crossing first. It was beautiful along there. Trees completely covered the area, but there was plenty of room to walk. There were pools of water every once in a while, but they weren't stagnant. Water was flowing through them. There were lots of large birds flying around. I couldn't get a good look at them through the trees. I'm pretty sure one was a hawk. I saw a pair flying together that reminded me of woodpeckers, but I didn't get a very good look at them. I did hear woodpeckers now and then, though. I heard bird calls the whole time that I didn't recognize. Most of the time I was up there, there was a nice breeze blowing through.

Fish in a puddle.

The photo point that I was searching for turned out to be one of those difficult ones. I think the creek bed had changed so much, it just wasn't recognizable. There weren't any mountain ridges or such in the backgrounds of the reference photos to use as a reference. The description mentioned standing on some bedrock to take the photo, but there wasn't any bedrock to stand on any where near where the photo point should have been. I finally decided that the bedrock was now buried in sand and took the picture from where I thought I should. I didn't arrive at that decision lightly, though. I walked up and down that creek bed several times. One thing that made that difficult was that a cow had died near there. At least, I assume it was a cow. I didn't want to see whatever it was. For a 20 yard stretch the stench was so bad I held my breath even though I was panting from scrambling back and forth. On one of the downstream walks during my search (and at a spot where the air was fresh and breathable), I decided I needed some nourishment to continue my search. That's when I discovered I was carrying an empty box of food bars. Well, there had been other developments during the search. As I walked up and down the creek bed, I noticed that it had suddenly gotten darker. I was so intent on my search, though, I didn't look up. At least, not until I heard a loud clap of thunder. I had been thinking that I might be able to continue getting pictures on an empty stomach, but I also thought about the fact that I had to drive in the creek bed for a few miles to get out of there. There's a ranch house in that creek bed, and they've built massive concrete, sand, and steel walls to keep the creek out when it floods. If it did flood, I didn't want to be there.

I need something for scale here. That crescent shaped rock is about 5 feet tall.

Remember that I left the truck at the top of a hill? Remember the thunder? The closer I got to the truck, the more exposed I felt, and the faster I climbed. When I finally got to the truck, gasping and dripping with sweat, I was anxious to be surrounded by steel with A/C blowing on me. Then a large wasp decided that it wanted to land on me. I don't know why it wanted to do that. I've had honey bees fly around my waist bumping into me now and then, but they go away after a while. I didn't know what the wasp would do, though. I thought about jumping into the truck with my backpack on, but I wasn't sure I would fit like that, and while I was trying to squeeze in the wasp would be able to land on me and have it's way with me. So I bopped it with the photo point notebook. Maybe not the best idea, but I was hoping that might scare it away. Armed bugs don't seem to scare easily, though. They just get mad. It came back at me and seemed agitated now, and more insistent about landing on me. Thunder rumbled through the surrounding canyons. Sweat burned my eyes. My legs trembled from hunger. I decided that this was no time to be messing around with a silly wasp and bopped it hard. While it was on the ground I mashed it and got in the truck. I felt a little bad about stomping on it but I would have felt worse if it had stung me or if I had been blasted by lightning while dancing around my truck. I didn't get a good look at it. It wasn't a tarantula hawk. It looked a little like a yellow jacket but about twice as big.

I found a crested saguaro.

I drove to Boston's Bar at Grill at Roosevelt Lake. It was a little high priced but was good food. I hung around in that area trying to decide if I should head back up Campaign Creek for a while. I could see that it was raining up there, though. No sense in pushing my luck. I got home long before sunset for a change. Can't wait to go back and finish. Click below to see all of the pictures.