Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Hiking in Tucson

It’s been three months since I last posted an update on this blog (December 2016) and that entry summed up the last of our summer travels from September 2016. We arrived in Tucson October 1st after a busy summer, and settled into a less hectic routine, in some ways doing many of the same things we did in Tucson last winter. Since I already made several posts last year covering the same ground, I have been less interested in creating new blog entries this year. But, as our time here comes to a close (we leave Tucson April 1 for a while), I decided to make one or two new entries to record what we’ve been up to and keep up the continuity of the blog, this first one on our hiking adventures.

One of the very nice things about Tucson, and the primary reason we are here, is the winters are moderate, allowing us to participate in outdoor activities throughout our five to six month stay with very little disruption due to weather. I really appreciate the freedom to get outdoors on a regular basis over the winter while much of the country waits for temperatures to come up above the freezing point. Tucson is surrounded by notable mountain ranges on all sides with the Tucson Mountains in the west, the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast, the Rincon Mountains east, and the Santa Rita Mountains lying to the south. There is no end to the hiking possibilities here!

This post is a compilation of photographs from the hikes we’ve taken this fall and winter. We started right off in October and were able to hike each month we were here. Our first hikes captured the peak of the fall colors, which may not be as dramatic as some places, but the uncommonness of it makes it all the more appreciated. As we worked our way through the weeks and months, we saw the loss of foliage, snow on some of the higher elevations, creeks and waterfalls filling up from rain and snow melt, and finally, in the spring, the reemergence of wildflowers and new growth on the cacti. These pictures are taken on our hikes to Bridal Wreath Falls, Hutches Pools, Mt. Lemmon, Madera Canyon, Sabino Canyon, Seven Falls, and Ventana Canyon. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Canyonlands National Park (Utah)

The second half of the week we stayed in Moab (September 2016) we visited Canyonlands National Park. Part of the same geological processes that created the stunning landscapes in Arches National Park just down the road, Canyonlands is much less crowded, and less visually inviting at a first glance. But its starkness and vastness make it splendid in its own right. The colorful landscape has been carved into countless canyons, mesas, and buttes by the Colorado and Green Rivers, and their respective tributaries. Author Edward Abbey described the Canyonlands as “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth – there is nothing else like it anywhere”, and I would have to agree.

With virtually no shelter from the sun, visitors have to choose carefully where and when to hike on the 100’s of miles of trails, many of them rugged and remote, with no facilities, including no fresh water, along the way. It seems this barren environment wouldn’t support much life at all, but the park is home to over 15 mammals (including black bears, bobcats, bats, and deer), at least 273 species of birds (lots of hawks, owls, and eagles), several species of reptiles (count the rattlesnake among them), and six confirmed amphibian species (frogs and salamander). We saw many birds, but none of the other inhabitants the days we were there.

We spent just a couple of days exploring the Canyonlands, so there will be plenty left to do when we come back here next time!