Sunday, February 20, 2011

A solitary hiker

The forecast for the weekend was rain. I got home from work at a reasonable time on Thursday and decided I had better take advantage of the sunshine. As usual, I left the house not knowing where I would end up. The weekend before I had found that 10 through Bulldog Canyon OHV area had been bulldozed and was *much* smoother than it used to be. Paloverdes had even been trimmed so they wouldn't give your vehicle that "Arizona pin-striping". I still wasn't able to drive the length of it in my truck. I got to a steep, uphill corner and just couldn't climb it; it's hard to get around curves with the axle locked. So I decided to check it out from the other direction, starting at the Wolverine Pass entrance.

I didn't go very far from that direction, though. I got to a rough downhill section covered with the marks of burning tires and with rocks piled to smooth out the rough spots and figured I would never climb it, so I had better not descend. I parked near there and headed for a small hill to check out the view.

I'll climb up there.

As I walked along the road towards the hill, I found where the bulldozer had stopped. It was less that 0.1 mile from the rough spot that stopped me. Darn it.

Where the bulldozer stopped.

As I walked along the freshly bulldozed road, I saw a single set of footprints. You always hear that you shouldn't hike alone, but a lot of people do it. There shouldn't be a problem with that as long as you don't do anything stupid. I guess having somebody with you might keep you from doing something stupid. Some people would inspired to new heights of stupidity by an audience, though ("Hey, watch this!").

A view of the Supes from the side of the hill.

One of the main reasons I hike alone is because I usually don't know when or where I'm going until I'm on my way. I enjoy showing people the beauty of the Sonoran desert. When I take somebody out with me, though, I worry about their comfort and if they are having fun and whether I am talking too much or too little. I can't relax if I have somebody with me, but that's just me.

I didn't go to the top. It gets too steep up there.

Anyway, I was thinking about solitary hiking and the rules I try to follow to stay safe and wondering if other solitary hikers have similar rules for themselves and would solitary hikers be interested in sharing their experiences and maybe we could form a club and even go on hikes together and ... wait, that's not solitary hiking any more. One of the other reasons I hike alone is because I enjoy the solitude, and that's probably true for most solitary hikers. It isn't that we don't like to be around people (well, maybe some don't), but it's just nice to be alone with your thoughts now and then.

Another view of the Supes.

I stood at a level spot on the side of the hill, enjoying the view and taking pictures. I looked down at the road and there was a solitary hiker heading into the desert. I wondered if he noticed what was now two sets of footprints in the dust of the road. I wondered if he would leave the road and go explore a secluded canyon or a lonely hill. I felt a connection to him and thought about saying "Hello" and waving, but because of that connection I decided not to spoil his solitude, and slipped quietly down the far side of the hill and wandered slowly back to the truck.

A solitary hiker.

I don't think a club for solitary hikers would ever get off the ground. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oops, wrong canyon

A few weeks ago, I had followed a wash downstream into a very scenic canyon in Bulldog Canyon. I have been planning to hike up that canyon from the other end. Yesterday, I made my first attempt.

There are still a few puddles out there.

I wanted Sweetums to go with me, and to stay with the Ranger while I hiked. I promised her that the Ranger would be parked in shade, but she was still worried about being hot. It was in the low 70's in town, which felt good to me, but most people are hot when I'm comfortable. She relented and went with me.

The view at the start.

I should have checked a map before I set out. I thought I knew which side canyon I wanted, but I was wrong. I knew I was wrong as soon as I started up it because it was way too narrow. It looked scenic, though, so I kept going.

Looking up the wrong canyon.

I also thought that maybe I could get to the canyon I wanted from this canyon. Silly me. The canyon I was in was narrow and had lots of very large (car size and bigger) boulders. The further I went, the more difficult is became to climb over them. It only took about half an hour to get to a spot that looked too risky to climb over.

Large boulders litter the canyon floor.

A scenic view.

A couple of hawks were flying around above me. I think maybe they were celebrating Valentine's Day.

I didn't want to climb over these boulders. Too risky for a solitary hiker in a narrow canyon (my SPOT may not have been able to get a signal out).

A hollow under the boulders that stopped me.

A spring-fed puddle in the hollow.

A skylight in the hollow.

There were footprints in the sand of that canyon. There must be something interesting further up there. I may have to try it from another angle some day.

When I got back to the Ranger, Sweetums admitted that she was actually cold. She hadn't gotten cold enough to move into the sunshine, though. Click below to see all of the pictures.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

Hoodoos, walls, and who do you think built those walls?

I've been wanting to take the Ranger out near Apache Leap. Things are changing out there all the time and I didn't know where I might be able to unload, so I drove out there by myself yesterday to check it out. I found a couple of great parking places and also found out the road I planned to explore was much smoother than it was the last time I was out there.

It's been cool out there. There was ice on most of the puddles.

One thing I like about the area is the balanced rocks.

I thought about hiking out to Apache Leap, but it was just a little bit too cool for my liking. Instead I just drove around on some of the easier roads. I found a new road in a canyon I had hiked about a year ago. It seemed strange to be driving through what used to be an isolated area.

The new road goes to this drilling rig site. The rig isn't here yet.

I took pictures of things that I probably have a dozen pictures of already.

I've never taken a picture of this before.

I got out to take some pictures of balanced rocks next to a canyon and was wandering around a little and came across a rock wall. I've seen them in in other places out there. They are built across stream beds. I don't think they are intended to be water dams, though. They are much to porous for that.

Rock wall across the bed of a wash.

I found several of these walls on this day. They are all low walls across the bed of a wash. They all have lots of dirt accumulated behind them.

Another fine wall.

The upstream side of the previous wall, showing all the soil accumulated behind it.

I may have discussed the walls in a previous blog. I don't remember if I said what I believe they are for. I think they were built to catch soil and form areas of deep, rock-free soil in which to grow crops. The ground away from the washes is mostly solid rock with a thin veneer of soil. It would be difficult to raise any crops there. Disturbing that soil would just allow it to erode away in the next rain storm.

I'll have to call the ranger station to find out who built them. I'm guessing that it was native Americans. That's why I'm careful not to disturb them; don't want to damage cultural artifacts.

Click below to see all of the pictures.


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Two for one

There's a road that goes from near the Boyce Thompson Arboretum up to the Rogers Trough trailhead. I drove a few miles along it last August. It was pretty rough in places and I got a late start, so I didn't go real far. We went back with the Ranger this past weekend. I took a wrong turn so we never got to the trailhead, but that's OK. We saw plenty of interesting stuff.

I thought this was a side road, but it was the road I wanted to be on.

Peachville Mountain. It looks much more impressive in person. Didn't see any peaches.

My PN-40 kept showing that we were passing through evergreen forest. I was looking around for pine trees but finally realized that the evergreens were junipers.

An evergreen forest southern Arizona style.

The mountains in that area are kind of smooth and blah looking. I don't recommend that road for the scenery. We saw a fair amount of traffic, which wasn't surprising considering the perfect weather.

Near where we turned around to head back, I saw a couple of ATVs tucked away out of site. I guess people do ride up there to go hiking. I was thinking about hiking myself. I walked to the top of a small hill and all the breathing made my throat burn. I guess I need to wait until I get over this cold to do much hiking.

The next day we headed out to the so-called box canyon at the end of Price Road, near Florence. I wanted to check out one of the side roads and maybe find the coke ovens (used around 1850 to smelt ore).

The last time we were out there, it seemed that the scenery wasn't as spectacular once we got out of the canyon. On this trip, the road we took went through some beautiful areas. I've looked at a lot of pictures of this area on Google Earth but none showed the great scenery. The vast majority of them are of people in their Jeeps trying to get into or out of impossible situations. I think the program that selects photos for Google Earth must not have been very selective when those pictures were uploaded to Panoramio. Anyway, I took a few pictures to improve coverage of the area.

This is the kind of scenery I like.

Several people had stopped here to enjoy the view. The guys with the dog were looking for the coke ovens, too.

A couple of guys passed us that were looking for the coke ovens, too. We caught up with them a little later. They had given up and turned back. We talked briefly and they decided to follow us, even though I told them that I wasn't sure we were on the right road. Just a little further along the road we came to a great view of the desert to the south. They were glad they went a little further, but they gave up again and turned back.

It was the wrong time of day to get pictures of this.

That pointy peak is called Grayback.

We turned back soon after that, too. The road was rough so progress was slow and it was getting late. We didn't make it to the coke ovens but it was a worthwhile trip.

This section of road is very rough in spots.

I think somebody spun their tires until their Jeep caught on fire here.

Click the two links below to see all of the pictures.