November Flowers, Sunset, Moon – 11/20/2017

November flowers in Sabino Canyon! November 2017.
November flowers in Sabino Canyon! November 2017.

Flowers in Sabino Canyon lingering boldly into November – it is hard at the moment to imagine the top of the Santa Catalina Mountains turning a winter white, and while I know winter will come part of me feels like this this warm always-summer season will roll right into next year…

November flowers in Sabino Canyon!! November 2017.
November flowers in Sabino Canyon!! November 2017.
Sunset and Saguaro in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.
Sunset and Saguaro in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.
Saguaro and sliver moon in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.
Saguaro and sliver moon in Sabino Canyon. November 2017.

Apache Peak – 7/9/2017

Looking south from Apache Peak. July 2017.
Looking south from Apache Peak. July 2017.

From the Lower Oracle Ridge Trailhead it is about 4 miles to get to the top of Apache Peak located on the north end of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Most of the miles are on the Oracle Ridge Trail which traverses below the peak, but there is no established trail for the final steep climb, and in my experience while you can pick better/worse ways to the top there probably is not a ‘great’ way up (the climb is not overly long but expect the standard rocky/loose/brushy off-trail Santa Catalina hillside…).

Sun disappearing behind the clouds at the end of the day on Apache Peak. July 2017.
Sun disappearing behind the clouds at the end of the day on Apache Peak. July 2017.

I arrive at the top just in time for the last light on the ridges to the south, the sun dipping below the clouds on the horizon, city lights coming on thru Charouleau Gap and the moon peaking thru the clouds as it rises over the San Pedro Valley – but tonight it is what I don’t see that is the surprise: no glow from the Burro Fire (currently at just over 27,000 acres), no spots of flame visible on the distant ridges and no obvious/large columns of smoke! The Burro Fire is burning to the south – Apache Peak certainly doesn’t have a view directly into the active part of the fire, but I suspect that the fire would have been clearly visible from here several days ago…

Watching the moon rise over the San Pedro Valley from Apache Peak. July 2017.
Watching the moon rise over the San Pedro Valley from Apache Peak. July 2017.

Clouds covering the moon make the hike back down surprisingly dark – spider eyes glint in the headlamp beam and when I finally slow down to look more closely it turns out to be many more spiders than I thought…

A spider - and many/mini spiders... On the Oracle Ridge Trail. July 2017.
A spider – and many/mini spiders… On the Oracle Ridge Trail. July 2017.

Pontatoc Canyon – 3/27/2017

Brittle Bush and sunset on the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.
Brittlebush and sunset on the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.

The Brittlebush has lined the Pontatoc Canyon Trail with yellow flowers filling the gaps between all the other flowers – it has been fun this year to make enough visits to the lower part of the trail to see the wildflower season start/grow/explode along the trail!

Sun, Brittle Bush, Ocotillo. March 2017.
Sun, Brittlebush, Ocotillo. March 2017.
Brittle Bush along the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.
Brittlebush along the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. March 2017.
Ocotillo Flowers in the Sunset. March 2017.
Ocotillo Flowers in the Sunset. March 2017.

Esperero Trail – 2/13/2017

February 2017.
A phainopepla near the Tram Road in Sabino Canyon. February 2017.

The Tram Road in Sabino Canyon is not always my favorite – but today… Clouds and beautiful colors in the sky – Phainopepla in the trees – easy walking.

Good light makes it easy to see the grey color of the female Phainolpepla and the shiny black of the males – sometimes perched, calling, at the top of the trees, sometimes flying, flashing the light patches under their wings. The Phainopepla are here for the Mistletoe berries – they eat the outer layers and expel the the sticky seed giving the parasitic Mistletoe a chance to spread. 

The easy walking on the tram road is appreciated today – with limited time I tried, and failed, to get to Bridal Veil Falls and after turning around under a just-out-of-reach deflated balloon stuck in a tree in Esperero Canyon (the first trash I had seen in miles) I was exhausted and happy to reach the tram road… 

February 2017.
Flowing water – one of many crossings on the Esperero Trail – still well below Bridal Veil Falls… February 2017.
February 2017.
A balloon stuck just-out-of-reach in a tree – Esperero Canyon. February 2017.
February 2017.
Looking up Bird Canyon from the Esperero Trail. February 2017.

Pontatoc Canyon Trail – 2/5/2017 and 2/9/2017

February 2017.
Shallow water near the start of the Pontatoc Trail – this area is more often seen completely dry… February 2017.

It is always a treat to start the Pontatoc Trail and see water flowing in the first wash – as you might expect farther up the Pontatoc Canyon Trail there was water at each crossing of Pontatoc Canyon. New-to-me on this hike was watching the moonrise over Pontatoc Ridge – I wonder if, or how many times, it has risen behind me on other hikes, but tired and staring down at the rocky trail in front of me I missed it…

February 2017.
Looking into Pontatoc Canyon from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail – in the lower right section of the picture you can see a section of the trail (sometimes bypassed by a scramble up the canyon!) February 2017.
February 2017.
A small spill in Pontatoc Canyon. February 2017.
February 2017.
Sunset on the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. February 2017.
February 2017.
Saguaros – end of the day looking down towards Tucson from the Pontatoc Canyon Trail. February 2017.
February 2017.
Moon over Pontatoc Ridge. February 2017.