Archive for January, 2016

just before…

The sun had already risen, but the trail had meandered down into a fold of the land and I found myself again in a pre-sunrise situation.  The foreground wasn’t actually this dark, but with the brightness of the sky above the horizon, the area closer to me was darkened and made for a nice silhouette image.  That’s one of the trail-signs to the left of the juniper tree…a common and reassuring symbol that I was exactly where I was supposed to have been at 7:45 on a Sunday morning….

Just before sunrise on the Black Canyon Trail, Antelope Creek segment

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Abandoned military barracks….

This isn’t my photograph, but I thought I would do something a little out of the ordinary and share a link that my son sent me…he was in the US Army and stationed at this post in Germany for two years preceding its closure in July, 2007.  We can see that the lawns have still been cared for to a minimal degree, but it looks like everything else is returning to nature…rather, Nature is beginning the slow, but inevitable process of reclaiming what was Hers in the beginning.

babenhausen-kaserne-12

Again, this is not my image, I simply copied it from the page and stuck it in here as an enticement for my blogging friends who enjoy making and admiring photographic images of abandoned structures.  I hope you’ll take a few minutes to click on the highlighted words above, or cut and paste this URL directly into your browser: http://www.thematrixer.com/urbanexpedition1.php so you can take a visit to the fading past, as presented in this fascinating piece of art.

Credit for the above image, and the rest of them presented on the linked page, goes to Industrial Heritage and Abandoned-Decayed Places Photography.  If you click on this italicized and highlighted link, it will take you to what appears to be their home page.


“Drinking Snake” segment of the Black Canyon Trail

I’ve shared several posts with images that I’ve made while hiking the Black Canyon Trail, here in the Arizona Sonora Desert, just north of Phoenix.  If you’d like more information on the trail system itself, you can click on the highlighted name to be taken to the home-page.  There are something like thirteen sections that cover approximately 78 miles of scenic desert trail leading from the Carefree Highway, just down the road from my house, all the way up to highway 69, just north of Mayer.

This post pertains to the area that I covered during my ninth hike on the Black Canyon Trail (BCT), the Drinking Snake segment, which, if you care to look at a map of roughly central Arizona, you will find six miles north and west of Interstate 17 and Bloody Basin Road (exit 259)…and for those further interested, or even mildly curious, I did not encounter either a drinking snake or a bloody basin….

The glow of sunrise before arriving at trailhead

I was still about three miles from the trailhead when I was compelled by the beautiful sky to stop and make some photographs.  The above image is from 7:28 am., about 12 minutes before the one below, taken from the trailhead parking lot.

The moment of sunrise in trail-head parking lot

I can’t think of a reason to share a photo of my truck here on the blog, so just forget that it’s there.  I always take a photo of the truck at the start and end of my hikes to mark the time…that’s all…and given where the sun is located in this particular image, I figured (when I made it) that the sun would wash-out the image, but it would still show the truck and mark the time.  When I returned home and found that it was actually a rather nice image of the sun just peeking over the horizon, I had to do more with it than just leave it in the folder.  Anyway….I was happy that my point-and-shoot captured an uncharacteristically clear and aesthetically pleasing image of the moment of sunrise at 7:40 am.

Cairn along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

As you will notice as you scroll further into the post, and possibly remember or reflect on the desert images from earlier postings, the landscape I encountered on this hike was markedly different from what I found on other outings.  The first example of that difference was in the juniper trees that appeared in clumps and in singular instances along the trail and out on the rolling hills and plains.  The cairn above appeared to be a tabletop for some creature that thrives on the juniper berries.  I found a handful of other locations along this first part of the trail that appeared to be similar feeding stations.

Close-up of juniper berries atop cairn

A reliable website that I frequent when researching various hikes, Arizona Hiking, indicates that the elevation of the Drinking Snake segment ranges between about 3,900 and 4,300 feet, which is a significant enough increase in elevation to effect the types and kinds of cactus and other desert/high-desert vegetation that can live there.

Morning shadows on hillside along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

The weather report for the area said that it was going to be a partly to mostly cloudy day…but it was a bit different during the time I was out on the trail.  There were beautiful clouds for sunrise and the next hour or two, but the earlier winds seemed to have removed them for mid-day and early afternoon.

Sun-glow of Prickly Pear cactus along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

I love to hike in the mornings…aside from there being many fewer people out hiking or riding their trail bikes, the rising sun plays wonderfully on the cactus spines and grasses that I normally find along the way.

Dried desert buckwheat flowers along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

The below photo is a bit darker than I would prefer, but it still gives you an idea of the grassland and the different type of shrubs…the singular yucca with its multi-podded antennae, the juniper off to the right, and, of course, the few groupings of the ubiquitous Prickly Pear cactus….and the fence….

Fenceline with scrub, cacti, and morning clouds along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

And here are another five photos that show the morning light captured in the cactus spines and seed-heads…

Glowing seedheads and Prickly Pear cacti along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…a different variety of the Prickly Pear cactus…and seed-heads…

Golden-spined Prickly Pear cactus with wild grasses along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…a nearly heart-shaped lobe of cactus…

Prickly Pear cactus along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…wild grasses and cactus spines…

Dried grasses and cacti along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…and some kind of wildflower left-overs among the cacti….

Dried wildflowers and Prickly Pear cactus along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

Looking toward the southwest, but mostly west, we can begin to see more of the Bradshaw Mountains…beyond the rising, grassy plain…

Rolling hills, mountains, and clouds along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…and looking behind us, the direction from which we came, we can see the flatter grassland and those fading clouds….

Grasslands and clouds along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

A few minutes later, the trail turned a bit toward the east, still going south, though, so the mountains out in the beyond are not the Bradshaws…but possibly the New River Mountains…I’m not sure.

Richly-desert foreground with mountains and clouds along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

The online resources indicate that this watering hole and windmill are at 2.8 miles into the hike…but they didn’t say anything about the clatter and racket from the blades, or the sound of the wind in the air and among the grasses….

Cloudy sky with windmill along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

Those are the Bradshaw Mountains off in the distance…and I believe this little draw area in the foreground might be the drainage of Antelope Creek….  The section of the trail just south of this Drinking Snake segment is named after Antelope Creek…and this bit of landscape is in the right spot to be such a named thing….

Bradshaw Mountain panorama viewed from Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

And this next image is looking east again, with a bit of south in it, as well…with a couple of horses and mountain silhouettes, cacti…and the ever grasses….

Distant horses on grassy plain along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…a bit closer….

Horses and hillsides along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

…and a bit farther away, too, from a slightly higher elevation and further down the trail where you can see a greater spread of the land.

Wide open spaces along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

We’ve already seen a different presentation of this next image…it’s the same bit of ground as the one where the horses first appeared…but we’re closer now.

View of sloping plain and mountains along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

The Drinking Snake segment of the Black Canyon Trail actually ends right there at that lone tree in the upper image.  Just beyond that spot is a graded road…Forest Road 259, or Antelope Creek Road….the northern starting place for that next section of the trail that I mentioned above.  I’m not sure how long that stretch of the trail is, but it will join up with the segment that we visited a while earlier when we went north from Bumble Bee Road…back in July.

I made this last image toward the very end, actually the very middle, of my hike…my turning-around point.  It’s about 0.8 miles into the next section of the trail that is south of the Drinking Snake segment.  I hadn’t explored this bit of ground on the map before heading out…and hadn’t indicated (on the note I left taped to the fridge at home) that I was going further, so it was a good spot to sit and have a snack before heading back to the truck.

Desert foliage and mountains along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

So…that was another almost six miles of the Black Canyon Trail…shown in chronological order from the starting sunrise to the point of return.  Thank you for joining me on the hike.  I hoped you enjoyed this latest glimpse of the Arizona Sonora Desert….


January Desert Sunset

I was driving north on the freeway, heading home after having been out on the road all day for work…and this was the scene that wrapped-up my day.  It is somewhat diminished in splendor from what I had originally seen, as I couldn’t stop right there on the freeway to make the photo.  When I looked east, I also beheld a cloudburst, a desert curtain of rain covering that far horizon…that was rose-colored…but it was gone by the time I made it off the freeway and safely down the road where I could pull-over to make the photos.  At any rate…here it is…kinda beautiful.  Happy Friday-evening to you all…..

January Desert Sunset


when there is water where the wind blows…

Just a few images from my most recent hike along the Black Canyon Trail…with more to follow in another post….

Windmill and open plain along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

This not-so-old watering hole was situated roughly three miles into the hike…the trail approached it from the right and continued toward the left…in the below photo.

Windmill and watering-hole along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

It was a rather breezy morning and the air was filled with the sound of the cockeyed spinning and clicking of the blades.

Windmill and clouds along Drinking Snake segment of Black Canyon Trail

When I passed-by again on the return trip a couple of hours later, it wasn’t moving at all…the glory of the morning light was gone, and with it, the continuous flow of winds that blew through the little funnel and curvature of land where the windmill was located.


Hiking through the White Tank Mountains – Part II

You might remember from the last post that we left-off with an image of two markers, a cairn, and a trail heading upward and out of the creek-bed that was the trail and waterway of Ford Canyon in the White Tank Mountains.  If you want to revisit that last post before proceeding onward, you can click here to be taken to Part I.

I can’t say exactly how far it was now, but after climbing up from the creek-bed and hiking along a couple of hillsides, the trail eventually led to this granite-bedded wash, or drainage that I understood to flow into Willow Canyon.

White Granite of Willow Creek waterway in White Tank Mountains

After another mile or so, I found myself at what would essentially be the halfway point of my day, given that I was going to make the full loop of the Ford Canyon Trail and the Goat Camp Trail.  When I reached the end of this last trail, there would still be another mile and a half walk along the roadway to get back to my truck.

Trail junction in White Tank Mountains

From what I’ve read of the trails on the park’s website, the Mesquite and Willow Canyon trails are the next longest trails in the area and make nice, but shorter, loop-hikes that will compel me to return to the White Tanks on at least another two occasions.

Trailside treasure of arrow through Saguaro in White Tank Mountains

Not far off-trail, heading west on the Goat Camp Trail, I found the curious instance of an arrow shot into a Saguaro cactus.  I can’t imagine that it was an accident….

Antennas and trails in White Tank Mountains

In the image above, you can see two stretches of the Goat Camp Trail…the first being on the lower ridge and heading off to the right, and the second located very faintly just above the “2015” toward the bottom left.

Desert mountainside trail with panoramic view

The photos above and below are of the same area, but from slightly different perspectives…and while it is still apparent in the above image, one gets a greater sense of the openness in the one below.

Mountainside panorama in White Tank Mountains

At any rate, there is a particular sweeping grandness to this desert landscape that I find to be different than the almost enveloping sense of scale that I noticed and felt bodily when hiking in the Wasatch.

Waterway with outcropping off the Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

Other views of a waterway with a rocky outcropping…and the “winter-bare wildflowers” with the Prickly Pear cacti in the background….

Dried wildflowers and Prickly Pear cactus silhouette

You might notice the trail, again, in the below photo, this time just below the shadowed area in the upper right corner….

Desert waterway and hillside

A quick glimpse at the trail, still heading west into the range…still new to me at this point….

Desert green along Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

A bit of diversity in the landscape now, more rocks and different foliage….

Opposite hillside of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

Do you see the runner in the below photo…that spot of barely discernible pink…on the trail, just above and to the right of the image’s center…?

Approaching runner on Goat Camp Trail

I don’t know the name of the lichen or the rocks in this next image…but I like them, anyway…find them fascinating….

Circle lichen with rock pile

Looking north and west…and way down at the trail that I had already hiked….

Hedgehog cactus and White Tank Mountain panorama from Goat Camp Trail

Wild grass and cactus, slabs of rock-facing on the hillside…

Rocky hillside along Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

…and a far horizon with an approaching trail on folds of the earth…

Long view of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

Hedgehog cacti growing out of a chunk of rock.

Stone-grown Hedgehog cactus

…and two young singers with their arms spread…reminded me of “The hills are alive, with the sound of music….”  This section of the Goat Camp Trail was probably more difficult in its descent than the Ford Canyon Trail was in its ascent…and I was very, very happy that I was going downhill at this point….

"The hills are alive with the sound..." Rock concert hiking date in White Tank Mountains

Looking upstream just to the left of the above singers….

Stream-bed crossing of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

I thought about doing an entire post on the Saguaro’s cactus spines, but thought it might be considered grossly redundant.  I think this images captures just about everything….

Saguaro spines close-up along Goat Camp Trail

Back on level ground and approaching the end of the trail, wondering if the goat camp that gave this trail its name might be around somewhere….

Nearing the end of Goat Camp Trail in White Tank Mountains

One last glimpse at the white granite boulders that highlight many of the waterways in the White Tank Mountains….

White granite stream-bed at Goat Camp Trail crossing in White Tank Mountains

And what’s a desert hike without a zombie Saguaro…?

Another Saguaro zombie at White Tank Mountains

And finally, back at the starting point…a late afternoon look at the windmill that helped frame the sunrise in the first image of the previous post…now several hours later…with a mostly overcast sky.

Back to the beginning - windmill at White Tank Mountains

While conducting a little bit of research on the name origin for the White Tank Mountains, while trying to find something historically solid to share with you, I came across this WordPress blog, History of Waddell, Arizona, that provides some general information.  It doesn’t list any sources, but it’s “nice” information that hints at a starting place for future investigation.

Thank you, again, for your endurance in making it to the end of another uncharacteristically long post.  I hope you enjoyed the second half of my hike from December 6th of this past year, climbing and walking the Ford Canyon and Goat Camp Trails of the White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Maricopa County, Arizona.