Pockets of Fall Color – 10/16/2017

Beautiful colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.
Beautiful colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.

In Tucson it is still hot, the only hint of fall a slight cooling trend that takes us down into the low 90s by the end of the week. After being trapped inside for a few days by illness the cool air and fall colors in Bear Wallow were a pleasant surprise. It was great to see so many hikers out and about, many with cameras and tripods capturing the fleeting change of seasons.

Changing colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.
Changing colors in Bear Wallow. October 2017.

There is more color on the mountain than you might expect – Bear Wallow might be the best single stop in the Santa Catalina Mountains for fall colors, fun to visit camera in hand – but what I really love is stalking the smaller pockets of color scattered across the higher areas of the mountain. Today we hiked around the top of the mountain, wandered down from the Box Elder Picnic Area and pointed at distant hints of color thinking ahead to next week…

Below the Box Elder Picnic Area looking over colorful Aspens at Marble Peak . October 2017.
Below the Box Elder Picnic Area looking over colorful Aspens at Marble Peak . October 2017.
Aspens near the top of Mount Lemmon. October 2017.
Aspens near the top of Mount Lemmon. October 2017.

Flowers and Fire on the Babad Do’ag Trail – 8/14/2017

Pringles Cluster Vine on the Babad Do'ag Trail. August 2017.
Pringles Cluster Vine on the Babad Do’ag Trail. August 2017.
Yellow Trumpet Bush on the Babad Do'ag Trail. August 2017.
Yellow Trumpet Bush on the Babad Do’ag Trail. August 2017.

The Babad Do’ag Trail is surrounded by flowers and green! I am more familiar with the trail in winter when the hillsides are shades of brown and tan, amazing to see it so green – but the trail is quite low on the mountain and, even with a few clouds and a little wind, the heat was… oppressive…

In April of this year the General Hitchcock Highway was briefly closed due to the Molino Fire. News reports at the time indicated that the suspected cause of the fire was recreational shooting. Ultimately the fire was fairly small – around 80 acres – and after the summer rains/growth it is hard to see the fire’s impact. The fire did touch the Babad Do’ag Trail – but only lightly, occasional burned agave mixed in with new growth.

Green growth and black burn from the Molino Fire. August 2017.
Green growth and black burn from the Molino Fire. August 2017.
The April 2017 Molino Fire perimeter in Black - the Babad Do'ag Trail is shown in red. August 2017.
The April 2017 Molino Fire perimeter in Black (a little over 80 acres) – the Babad Do’ag Trail is shown in red. August 2017.
Signs of the April 2017 Molino fire on the Babad Do'ag Trail. August 2017.
Signs of the April 2017 Molino fire on the Babad Do’ag Trail. August 2017.

Shriveling Glories, Sutherland Wash – 8/27/2017

Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash - 1. August 2017.
Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash – 1. August 2017.

Endless intense sunny days are already making Sutherland Wash drier – some of  nearby green is starting to fade and the Morning Glories have shriveled into an amazing variety of beautifully strange shapes…

Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash - 2. August 2017.
Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash – 2. August 2017.
Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash - 3. August 2017.
Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash – 3. August 2017.
Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash - 4. August 2017.
Morning Glory near Sutherland Wash – 4. August 2017.

False Fall Colors, Soldier Trail – 8/26/2017

Orange and red Desert Cotton Leaf. August 2017.
Orange and red Desert Cotton Leaf. August 2017.

The summer rains are long gone and it is hot – too hot for low-on-the-mountain Soldier Trail I guess and, just after the overlook of Soldier Canyon, the easy access to the water and carved rock are too tempting, my turn around point on today’s (short) hike.

Today what really catches my attention is the beautiful ‘false fall’ leaves of the Desert Cotton (Gossypium thurberi) – stunning beautiful fall colors dotting the hillside, a cruel false signal of fall with so many hot days still to come…

Desert Cotton near Soldier Trail. August 2017.
Desert Cotton near Soldier Trail. August 2017.
A red Desert Cotton Leaf near Soldier Canyon. August 2017.
A red Desert Cotton Leaf near Soldier Canyon. August 2017.
Desert Cotton Flower. August 2017.
Desert Cotton Flower. August 2017.

Meadow, Mt Lemmon, Wilderness of Rock and Mint Spring Trail – 8/21/2017

Flowers along the Meadow Trail. August 2017.
Flowers along the Meadow Trail. August 2017.

The flowers on the Meadow Trail are fading a bit, ferns on the Mt. Lemmon Trail are starting to brown and small drainages crossing the Wilderness of Rocks Trail are beginning to go dry – the summer rains are gone, but summer temperatures are still very much here – a nice time to be at the top of the mountain.

Browning ferns along the Mt. Lemmon Trail. August 2017.
Browning ferns along the Mt. Lemmon Trail. August 2017.
Clouds and trees reflected in Lemmon Creek. August 2017.
Clouds and trees reflected in Lemmon Creek. August 2017.
Red galls in the Manzanita from Leafgall Aphids. August 2017.
Red galls in the Manzanita from Leafgall Aphids. August 2017.