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Palm Tree at Sundown

We had a nice pink sky after sunset earlier this evening.  This is a photo of the palm tree in our front yard.

Taken with my NEX-7 at ISO 1600, f/7.1, 1/100s, -0.7 EV, w/ a focal length of 200mm (fully zoomed).  There’s more noise than I would like in the fronds of the tree; this is partly due to the high ISO and partly due to the fact that I tone mapped it for more color and definition in the tree.  The tone layer is largely masked out with only a 30% opacity for portions of the tree and other foliage.

I used exposure bracketing on my NEX-7.  I might get better results if I use the +0.7 EV exposure for the tree and other foliage.

Rock Knob, at Sunset, from the Feldspar Trail

This photo was taken last Sunday just before sunset from the Feldspar Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  The setting sun gave Rock Knob a nice reddish orange glow.

Tom’s Thumb Trailhead is now open

Marilyn and I drove out on 128th street (from Dynamite / Rio Verde Drive) last night to hike the Marcus Landslide Trail.  The Friday Hike group hiked a significant portion of the Marcus Landslide Trail, but we did not reach the end.  Marilyn and I hiked the Marcus Landslide Trail in its entirety.  I had hopes that it would meet up with one of the other Preserve trails, but it doesn’t.   But it doesn’t exactly dead end either.  It forks at one point and loops back to the fork.  After hiking it, I remembered that I had seen that loop on a map at some point in the past.  I probably saw it on the map of rock climbing access trails.  After scouring the Preserve website, I believe that this may be the most accurate map for trails in the area.  The Northern Mountain Region map, at the time of this writing anyway, is out of date.

When we visited the area in the past, we parked at one of several temporary parking areas.  These parking areas are no longer accessible.  Several of the areas that we visited on our hike had been plowed up and will presumably be re-vegetated.  The old roads in the area have been plowed up too.  Here’s what’s left of the road that used to go up to one of the temporary parking areas:

Morrell’s Wall is visible in the center of the photo, above.

Parking is now available at the newly constructed trailhead at the end of 128th St.  As far as I can tell, 128th St no longer goes through to Paraiso.  It appears that portions of Paraiso have either been converted to short sections of trail or have been plowed up and re-vegetated.  The new parking area has spaces for 200 vehicles and 12 horse trailers.  It has restrooms, but the doors were locked when we were there last night.  No water is available at this time (nor in the foreseeable future).  A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for October 18, 2012.

As Marilyn and I hiked out to the Marcus Landslide Trail, it became obvious that we had somehow missed the turnoff to the Tom’s Thumb Trail.  It turns out that the Tom’s Thumb Trail is accessible by walking through the shelter at the trailhead:

Morrell’s Wall, Gardener’s Wall, and Tom’s Thumb are all visible in the above photo.  If you look closely, you can see a small white sign on the sidewalk within the structure.  This sign indicates that the Tom’s Thumb Trail goes through the structure.

The Marcus Landslide Trail is accessible off to the camera’s left – it does not appear in the above photo.  You can also get to it by hiking through the structure, but you’ll need to turn off (left) on the new Feldspar Trail to get there.  This junction is near the location of the (old) lower temporary parking area.  Access to the three Sven Tower Climbing areas is just off the Feldspar Trail too.  There is a canyon there known as Mesquite Canyon.

Bob’s Bird Photos from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum

Bob took these photos at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum during the Bye – Bye Buzzards event.

These are Turkey Vultures…

Amy Burnett has identified the birds below as follows…

Harris Hawk:

Peregrine Falcon:

American Kestrels.  The male, on the left, has more blue than the female on the right.

Red-Tailed Hawk, both photos, below.  (Amy says she is not certain about the last one, but I think it’s just another shot of the same bird in the photo immediately below.)

Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike started at the Wagner Trailhead.  We had a larger group today consisting of me, Ranger Amy, Bob, Linda, Janet, Nancy, Sue, and Sharon.

Our goal for the day was to get out to the Marcus Landslide Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  We decided to shorten the initial part of the hike as much as possible by cutting through the campground.  Even so, we ended up hiking around eleven miles.  Our route took us up Bluff to Pemberton to Rock Knob.  From there we were able to get on the Marcus Landslide Trail.  We followed it a bit past the intersection with the Boulder Trail.  It’s a nice trail; I suspect that it eventually connects with the Windmill Trail at some point.  I’ll have to do some further exploration to find out…

This photo was taken early on while we were still on the Granite Trail.  From left to right are Bob, Sue, Sharon, Janet, Amy, Nancy, and Linda.

Part way up the Bluff Trail, we saw this small bird sitting atop a large granite boulder.

Below is a view of Tom’s Thumb.  There are some chain fruit cholla in the foreground.  Part of the Sven Slab climbing area can be seen to the left.  I once climbed that detached flake (a little ways left of center) with Craig Thornley back in the late 80s.  We climbed Tom’s Thumb too.

Another view of Tom’s Thumb and the Sven Slab climbing area.  Joe and I have climbed that face at the far left in the picture.

A patch of Teddy Bear Cholla.  I think we’re looking back at part of Rock Knob in this photo.

This was one of the interesting rock formations along the Marcus Landslide Trail.

Another interesting looking rock.  I posted another view of this rock yesterday.

This is a view from the Marcus Landslide Trail just prior to turning around.  Note that the trail keeps going and is visible in the lower right of the photo.

On our way back, we saw three equestrians on the Marcus Landslide Trail.

Here, Ranger Amy is telling us about the sound that a small type of squirrel was making as were hiking back.

Hiking along the Pemberton:

Nancy and Amy approaching the intersection of Pemberton and Bluff:

A very healthy saguaro on the Bluff Trail:

Ocotillo in the park had turned green from the recent rains, but the leaves are now drying out and turning yellow.  This one caught my eye as we were hiking back along the Bluff Trail.  Weaver’s Needle is visible along the skyline to the left.

We encountered three more equestrians while hiking down the Bluff Trail.




Fitness Hike Preview

I went out this morning and biked a potential route for tomorrow’s hike.  The photos below were taken from the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

The Preserve trails have been diverted somewhat and sanitized since I was last there.  There are also some new trail signs.

Those leaning rocks on the skyline about a third of the way over from the left edge of the photo can be seen from many places in the park.  I sometimes think that they look like people hiking with heavy packs.

Another cool looking rock on the Marcus Landslide Trail:

It doesn’t say so on the sign, but this (below) is one end of the Boulder Trail.  The trail has been around for quite awhile, but only recently has an official opening been made in the fence.

Hiking the Dixie Mine Trail with Marilyn and Joe

Joe, Marilyn, and I went out late Sunday afternoon and hiked out a ways on the Dixie Mine Trail.

There were several contrails that hung around for the duration of our hike.  Here’s a photo where they seem to form a “V” emanating from behind one of the McDowells.

Weaver’s Needle is off in the distance in the photo below.  You can also see a part of Dixie Mine Trail in the foreground.  It’s a nice trail in that section.  There’s not a lot of elevation gain or loss, but numerous small hills and washes give texture to the terrain.

The half-moon and a nearby saguaro:

A particularly scenic section of the Dixie Mine Trail:

Mother and son hiking together just after sunset.

Another view of the contrails as the sun was setting:

A short while later, we turned to see that the setting sun had turned the contrails a brilliant reddish orange:

Another edit of the above photo using the Mantiuk ’06 contrast mapping algorithm.  All of the above photos use the Mantiuk ’06 contrast equalization algorithm.  In the tests that I’ve done, contrast mapping seems to produce more realistic looking results, but I often like the look obtained using contrast equalization.  The sky in the photo below is fairly close to the image obtained out-of-camera, but the out-of-camera foreground detail is very dark; so dark in fact that it appears to be mostly black.


Friday Fitness Hike

Today’s hike started at the Trailhead Staging Area.  In addition to regulars, Bob, Linda, and Janet, two other hikers joined us today: Elma and Connie.  Elma and Connie told us that they do a lot of hiking at South Mountain; this was their first visit to McDowell Mountain Park.

We hiked out about a mile on the Pemberton and came back on the Scenic Trail.  Total distance for that segment was a little over 4.3 miles.

As we started up the Scenic, I took this photo of the sun coming up over the hill.  Tone mapping it gave it an interesting look – the photo was kind of boring otherwise.

A short ways further, I turned around and took a photo of the clouds with Little Granite Mountain (I think) off in the distance.

Janet, Linda, Elma, and Connie:

A view of Four Peaks from midway along the Scenic Trail:

When we got to the wash, Bob pointed out this Red-tailed Hawk:

When we got back to the staging area, Bob found this spider in the bathroom!

Bob, Linda, Janet, and I then started on the second part of our hike.  We hiked out the Pemberton in the other direction.  Janet turned back just after we crossed Stoneman Wash.  (She had other errands to do…)

Bob, Linda, and I continued on and took a look at this wash:

We also hiked a bit of the Tonto Tank Trail.   Here is Linda taking a photo of some cacti and an ocotillo at the top of the steep section near the beginning of the trail.

Here’s my own photo of that scene:

Bob, Linda, and I hiked a total of 9.35 miles today.


A View of the McDowells from the Scenic Trail

I took this photo on Saturday afternoon while riding the Scenic Trail.

Lousley Wash before Sunset

Below is a photo from Sunday’s hike with Marilyn.  I took this photo about half an hour before sunset.

Even though it’s only a photo, I still find it difficult to look at the spot in the photo depicting the sun.  For some reason, I don’t have this problem with either of out-of-camera versions. (I used the Sony in-camera HDR mode for this photo.  I took the HDR result, tone mapped it, and applied further edits using GIMP.)

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