Sunday, January 29, 2023

Tucson wanderings

Here's a random set of pictures from recent Tucson explorations.

We climbed Mount Wrightson, south of Tucson - nice area!  I could easily see training up there, with an easy approach and parking, lots of trees, and good trails for quickly getting up high.

Also occasional mining-related sights:

View of the top of the mountain:

Microspikes came in handy that day:

Apparently we ascended up to 9453 feet:

Wonderful place to admire the surrounding desert and topography:

We took the Super Trail down, enjoying the roundabout and less-steep trail.  There's an odd set of trees across the way to admire too:

John's parents came to visit!  Welcome to Tucson, Jenny and Jerry.  John took us to one of his favorite places, a park where he can practice flying his drone.

It's up there somewhere...

Don't look now:

It is pretty amazing what this thing can do.

The Desert Museum has been on our list for a while, so this seemed like a good group activity.  Amidst all the interesting animals and plants, there is also some great art:

Definitely go for the raptor free flight, where various birds get to spend time playing around, enjoying some exercise and training.  Jenny and Jerry had good seats for a visit with a raven:

The owl is spectacular, silently swooping over everyone's heads and sort of glaring:

John got a great picture of one of the Harris Hawks coming in for a landing:

The Tucson Botanical Garden is full of all shapes (and sharpness) of desert plants, so much to see in such a small space:

It's either Halloween or Saguaro freeze protection:

Not one of our better selfie attempts:

Playing around with perspective:

We really liked the butterfly enclosure (plus it was warm inside):

Snack time for butterflies:

Thanks for coming to see us, y'all!

The next weekend we drove west to Anza Borrego and a super fun 2-day, 4-event orienteering meet.  This is the only picture we got (in Borrego Springs), at least it's a pretty good one!

And finally, an attempt to climb Mica Mountain.  This one looks benign, with a gentle flat top, featuring the challenge of a lot of miles to get there (13+ miles one-way).  John started with me but the whole endeavor was a bit too big for him at the moment.  Or maybe he was happy staying out of the snow for once.

I hustled up to the saddle and then started up the ridge where I found the white stuff.  And the first turkey tracks I have seen since the Catskills!  Giant arrows pointing to where the birds came from:

Not a lot of people had been up there recently, but I was mostly able to follow the trail.  The snow condition was about perfect, quite firm.  I carried snowshoes and spikes, and although I might have occasionally gone a little faster with the snowshoes on, I didn't bother.

Near the top there was a bunch of little ice chunks in the trees tinkling down all around me:

The "trail" just before Spud Rock:

At Spud I lost the trail heading, didn't find another marker, and decided I was out of time for the day.  I could see over to the very top, perhaps half a mile away and across a small saddle.  Instead, I turned around and had a fun run down in the snow.  The Mica summit will have to be an adventure for another time!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Chiricahua (Rock the Rhyolite)

Back in February 2008 (not long before I started this blog) we did a driving tour from Texas to southern Arizona for the El Paso marathon, some Tucson orienteering, various desert hikes, and an excellent couple of days at Chiricahua National Monument.  Living in Tucson for several months, plus a week-long holiday vacation for John, means we had the opportunity to return to Chiricahua and explore the trails some more.  Highly recommend!  And this time around I have a place to share some pictures, so here you go.

On the afternoon of our arrival we started with a trek to the Natural Bridge.  The trail dipped down into shadows, so John had to reach to touch the sunshine - yay solar!

A closer look at the bridge:

Back in the sun, and appreciating the first day of our adventure:

The next day we aimed for the Heart of Rocks loop, the part I most remember from before.  John took a moment to remove some pointy parts of this obstacle (and later removed the entire dead tree from the path - thank you Mr. Trailwork Man!)

Mushroom Rock, a glimpse of the neat features to come:

Inspiration Point has an expansive and rocky view:

It also has this Alice in Wonderland-type box:

One of the first pages of the visitor log and some nice sentiment:

A view of the head of Cochise on the horizon:

So many huge balanced rocks!  How does this even happen?  Oh right, geology.

If you're careful you can balance one on your head:

Similar photo (on a warmer day) from 2008, apparently on a Leap Day:

Now they're just showing off:

We really enjoyed our second tour around the Heart of Rocks:


We descended to the visitor center and perused a display about the Civilian Conservation Corps.  They built so much infrastructure in places we love - thank you, CCC!

We saw plenty of Mexican Jays, and this poem made me laugh:

Starting off day 3 with a climb up Sugarloaf Mountain, a new trail for us.  Hi John!

It's not a challenging hike and soon we were on top of the (local) world:

It would have been nice to have micro-spikes for this one (and in a couple other spots that don't get much sunshine) but we managed OK:

Checking out the nature loop and exhibits at Massai Point:

"Hail" pebbles on Hailstone trail:

Admirable rock work at a creekbed crossing:

Another highlight is the Echo Canyon trail, a super fun path that winds around and between so many tall columns:

We had a great time roaming through here:

Such a neat place!

John could even sleep here:

Thank you Chiricahua, that was awesome.

The next morning we drove out early, heading south toward a beautiful sunrise (at least while the sun had a slight gap to shine through):

We had heard that Bisbee is an interesting little town, so we journeyed around to spend a day there.  First thing we saw was Erie Street with a bunch of older vehicles, signs, and gas pumps:

The Lavender Pit is less-than-attractive but you can't miss it:

We did a tour of the Queen Mine where they used to dig for copper:

The tour was entertaining, especially when this was our mode of transportation in and out:

We had a funny and informative tour guide, got a sense of what it might be like to spend some time in the dark, and learned a bunch about mining.

Although it was a rainy and rather dreary day, we did find some excellent coffee and a market with delicious soup for lunch.  That was good fuel for climbing a bunch of the stairs that ascend in all directions.  Apparently there's even a "Bisbee 1000" race in the fall - 4.5 miles and 1000+ stairs.  Sounds like great fun!

Happy holidays to everyone!