Month: March 2014 (page 1 of 3)

Friday Hike – Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area

Bob, Venie, Linda, Nancy, and I did an eight mile hike at the Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area.  Our hike took us out into the Tonto National Forest briefly. Halfway through, we hiked up to the top of the fortress peak where we looked at the walls built by an ancient people, presumably for defense.

Our hike started on the Spur Cross Trail, where we encountered Cave Creek.



Fortunately, there is narrow bridge of sorts, so we didn’t have to get our feet wet crossing the creek.

20140321-_DSC8945-Edit-medium Linda looking at some of the large Saguaros beside the trail:

20140321-_DSC8954-Edit-medium An early morning view from the Spur Cross Trail:

20140321-_DSC8960-Edit-medium A view of Elephant Mountain on the left with the fortress peak lower down to the right.  The steep walls around most of the fortress peak make it fairly inaccessible via any route except for a steep, but relatively easy trail accessible from the saddle between these two formations.

20140321-_DSC8987-Edit-mediumWe saw at least two signs along the way about the trail being a “primitive route” that is “not maintained”.  These trails are significantly better than some of the trails we’ve hike elsewhere.

20140321-_DSC8996-medium Another early morning view:

20140321-_DSC8999-Edit-mediumPart of the trail followed an old road full of rocks.

20140321-_DSC9002-Edit-medium Yet another early morning view:

20140321-_DSC9017-Edit-medium Another view of Elephant Mountain and the Fortress Peak.  Note that Elephant Mountain is still to the left of the Fortress Peak in this photo.

20140321-_DSC9026-Edit-medium By the time that I took this photo, we had worked our way far enough around these formations for the positions to have reversed.

20140321-_DSC9029-Edit-medium We saw this very elaborate cairn at the junction with Trail 252.  We took the fork leading westward.

20140321-_DSC9044-Edit-medium Trail 252 lead us even further around Elephant Mountain and the Fortress Peak.

20140321-_DSC9050-Edit-medium We saw this yellow flower along the way.

20140321-_DSC9071-Edit-medium We encountered a fork on Trail 252 and took the left fork.  This lead us back to a fork of the Elephant Mountain Trail that we had bypassed earlier in the hike.  I think this view, below, is a view of Elephant Mountain  from that trail.

20140321-_DSC9086-Edit-mediumA view from the wash that the trail dumped us into.

20140321-_DSC9104-Edit-medium Linda says that this is “fountain grass”.  She says that it’s a non-native grass.  Some of her work with the McDowell Sonoran preserve involves eliminating some of this grass from the preserve.  It’s pretty in this photo, but it prevents native plants from growing. When dry, it is very combustible and presents more of a fire danger than do native plants.

20140321-_DSC9113-Edit-medium A view of some high walls of the wash as we made our way over to another wash, through which the Elephant Mountain Trail passes.

20140321-_DSC9119-Edit-medium We’re so far below Elephant Mountain now that we can only see the Fortress Peak.

20140321-_DSC9137-Edit-medium At this point, we had been going uphill for quite a while on our way up to the pass between Elephant Mountain and the Fortress Peak.

20140321-_DSC9143-Edit-medium A view from the northwest side of the Fortress Peak.  Elephant Mountain is not visible in this photo, but is to the camera’s right.

20140321-_DSC9149-Edit-mediumWe saw many flowers on the way.

20140321-_DSC9152-Edit-medium This is a view of Elephant Mountain from part way up the ascent to the top of the Fortress Peak.

20140321-_DSC9161-Edit-medium A view from below of one of several stone walls on the Fortress Peak.

20140321-_DSC9164-Edit-medium Several more views of some of the stone Walls near the top of the fortress peak.

20140321-_DSC9167-Edit-medium 20140321-_DSC9170-Edit-medium 20140321-_DSC9182-Edit-medium 20140321-_DSC9185-Edit-mediumEven though it’s quite rocky, the fortress peak has a variety of vegetation.

20140321-_DSC9200-Edit-medium A view from the near the top of the fortress peak.

20140321-_DSC9206-Edit-medium I took this photo from some boulders that form the high point of the Fortress Peak.  As seen below, there’s quite a lot of space atop this peak.

20140321-_DSC9224-Edit-medium A view of Elephant Mountain from the fortress peak.

20140321-_DSC9233-Edit-medium Yet another view from the Fortress Peak.

20140321-_DSC9236-Edit-medium We continued hiking the Elephant Mountain Trail after leaving the Fortress Peak.  The trail crossed a large wash along the way.  Below is a close up view looking down the wash.

20140321-_DSC9269-Edit-medium Here is a wider angle view:

20140321-_DSC9272-Edit-medium Looking back up at the prominent wall on Elephant Mountain.

20140321-_DSC9275-Edit-medium Linda told us that this is a Mammillaria, a small type of cactus that often grows between rocks.20140321-_DSC9284-Edit-medium A look up another steep wash / canyon.

20140321-_DSC9299-Edit-medium And a look at where it continues downwards:

20140321-_DSC9302-Edit-medium The ocotillo are in bloom and the desert is still green.

20140321-_DSC9317-Edit-medium 20140321-_DSC9329-Edit-medium Hedgehog cactus blossoms:

20140321-_DSC9344-Edit-medium Ocotillo blossom:

20140321-_DSC9365-Edit-medium Another blooming ocotillo that’s growing around a smallish saguaro.

20140321-_DSC9395-Edit-medium We encountered this woman riding her horse near the end of the trail.  We also saw another large group of riders in the distance, but they’re route did not cross ours.

20140321-_DSC9482-Edit-medium Linda peers out of a window from the remains (?) of a stone structure near the parking area.




Boulder Canyon Trail Photos from Marilyn’s RX10

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Friday Hike – Boulder Canyon Trail

Bob, Sarge, Venie, Linda, Nancy, Marilyn, and I hiked the Boulder Canyon Trail in the Superstition Mountains on Friday.  We hiked out to the intersection with the Second Water Trail #236 and then returned via the same route. My GPS showed just over 9 miles with over 2,000 feet of total ascent when we finished.

The hike starts from the parking lot of the Canyon Lake Marina.  There are parking places designated for hikers near the road.  As you cross the road, you walk by the one lane bridge that you probably crossed on your way to the Marina.  This bridge crosses Boulder Creek which, I think, is fed by the waterway of Boulder Canyon.20140314-_DSC8054-Edit-medium A view of Boulder Creek shortly after we started hiking up the Boulder Canyon Trail.

20140314-_DSC8078-Edit-mediumCanyon Lake:

20140314-_DSC8117-Edit-medium A view looking east.  The road visible in this photo is Arizona 88, also known as the Apache Trail.

20140314-_DSC8126-Edit-medium Another view of Canyon Lake.

20140314-_DSC8129-Edit-medium Yet another view of Canyon Lake.  The Boulder Creek Bridge is visible in this photo.

20140314-_DSC8147-Edit-mediumThe Boulder Canyon Trail has a longish uphill section that starts pretty much after crossing the road.  Midway up, we got our first views of Battleship Mountain and Weaver’s Needle.  At this point, the Boulder Canyon Trail overlooks Boulder canyon at the right in this photo.

20140314-_DSC8162-Edit-mediumI used a 16-70mm zoom lens on my camera for this hike.  I used it at the long end to get this photo of Battleship Mountain and Weaver’s Needle.

20140314-_DSC8168-Edit-medium Linda posed for this photo with Battleship Mountain and Weaver’s Needle in the background.

20140314-_DSC8177-Edit-mediumThis photo shows the Boulder Canyon Trail, Boulder Canyon, with the walls of La Barge Canyon, Battleship Mountain, and Weaver’s Needle in the Distance.

20140314-_DSC8180-Edit-mediumI think this is my favorite photo (from this set) of Boulder Canyon.

20140314-_DSC8201-Edit-medium Linda told me that this is a Chicory Flower.

20140314-_DSC8222-Edit-medium Another view of this flower.  We hiked through a light rain shower early on in the hike, hence the water droplets on the flower.

20140314-_DSC8225-Edit-medium A yellow flower that I haven’t been able to identify.

20140314-_DSC8231-Edit-medium I think this is a view looking back along Boulder Canyon.

20140314-_DSC8237-Edit-medium A rain shower off in the distance.  Also, a look back at the trail.

20140314-_DSC8249-Edit-medium Marilyn and Nancy descend a portion of the trail.

20140314-_DSC8270-Edit-medium A look forward before beginning our descent to La Barge Canyon.20140314-_DSC8288-Edit-medium Another view of Boulder Canyon.

20140314-_DSC8297-Edit-medium Bob with Sarge.

20140314-_DSC8308-Edit-medium I think the prow of the Flatiron can be seen in this photo near the right of the mountain range in the distance.

20140314-_DSC8309-Edit-mediumCanyon Lake had disappeared from view for a long while, but became visible again for a short while.

20140314-_DSC8315-Edit-mediumAnother view of Battleship Mountain and Weaver’s Needle together.  This was close to the our last view of Weaver’s Needle until we made the return trip.

20140314-_DSC8321-Edit-medium At this point, Weaver’s Needle is hidden behind Battleship Mountain.

20140314-_DSC8357-Edit-medium An interesting rock formation that we passed on the way.

20140314-_DSC8360-Edit-medium I think this is La Barge Canyon.  Our trail lead us across LaBarge Canyon.

20140314-_DSC8432-Edit-medium There are some old mining ruins along the way.

20140314-_DSC8450-Edit-medium 20140314-_DSC8453-medium A Buckhorn Cholla?  (Most of the ones I see branch out a lot more.)

20140314-_DSC8465-Edit-medium Brittlebush with a wall of La Barge Canyon in the background.

20140314-_DSC8477-Edit-mediumWe stopped to eat lunch on this large rock next to a creek.

20140314-_DSC8504-Edit-mediumA variety of flora a this location.

20140314-_DSC8519-Edit-medium A view of Boulder Creek / Boulder Canyon.  There were pools of water in the creek, but I didn’t see any flowing water at this point.

20140314-_DSC8534-Edit-medium At this point the Boulder Canyon Trail crosses the creek a (large) number of times.  Having hiked over four miles at this point, we turned back instead.

20140314-_DSC8546-Edit-medium Another view of our lunch location.

20140314-_DSC8549-Edit-medium This was actually composed from two exposures.  In the first one, Venie, Linda, and Bob were looking my way, and in the second, Marilyn and Nancy were looking towards the camera, but the rest were not.

20140314-_DSC8564-Edit-medium This is a panorama composed from ten exposures.  Even though I had a 16mm lens (at its widest), I could only see small sections of this scene through my viewfinder.

20140314-_DSC8579-Edit-mediumAnother view of Battleship Mountain.  I climbed a small hill just off the main trail to get this shot.  I don’t think it was visible from the trail down where the rest of the group are.

20140314-_DSC8621-Edit-medium A look at Battleship Mountain midway back up one of the long hills on the way back.  It was afternoon at this point; it had become quite sunny (and warm) along this stretch, but the clouds reasserted themselves later on.

20140314-_DSC8690-Edit-medium Another interesting rock formation that we saw on the way back.

20140314-_DSC8741-Edit-medium We came across this lizard who had trouble getting out of its hole.  It thrashed around for quite a while in an attempt to get out, though it stayed still when I took this and several other photos.  Bob cleared some of the rocks and dirt around the hole to help it get out. The ground was incredibly hard.

20140314-_DSC8756-Edit-medium Canyon Lake in the afternoon.

20140314-_DSC8762-Edit-medium Brittlebush flowers:

20140314-_DSC8870-Edit-medium Buckhorn Cholla flower:


Quarter Dollar

This image was made using 15 exposures, each at ISO 100, f/9, 1/2 sec using a single CFL approximately four feet away, plus whatever other natural light that was available. I used my NEX-7 with Sigma 105mm macro lens using a Really Right Stuff B-150B focusing rail mounted to a Really Right Stuff tripod.  A 12kg kettlebell was hung from the tripod for extra stability.

The exposures were blended by hand in photoshop.  I tried using Photoshop’s focus stacking tool to blend the images, but saw some strange (and unpleasing) artifacts.

I used this as a test of the focusing rail and to obtain practice using it.


Camel’s Head

This is Camel’s Head, a rock formation that may be viewed from the Heart of the Rocks Loop in the Chiricahua National Monument.

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Pinnacle Balanced Rock

This is Pinnacle Balanced Rock, one of the first named rock formations encountered on a hike of the Heart of the Rocks Loop at Chiricahua National Monument.

20140311-_DSC7470-Edit-mediumI saw this tree as I was hiking between Pinnacle Balanced Rock and Old Maid.



Old Maid

This rock formation is named Old Maid and can be seen from the Heart of the Rocks Loop in the Chiricahua National Monument.

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Big Balanced Rock

We encountered this rock formation, aptly named Big Balanced Rock, on the Big Balanced Rock Trail in the Chiricahua National Monument.  According to the nearby sign, it is 25 feet high, 22 feet in diameter, and weighs 1,000 tons.



The Grottos

A photo from our hike of the Echo Canyon Trail in the Chiracahua National Monument.