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Bush Fire from Fountain Hills

Marilyn, Marie, and I went for an evening walk on Saturday, the 13th.  Marilyn noticed a reddish glow in the distance; we walked up a nearby hill to see better.  We saw an orange glow in the distance, behind some hills.  When we concluded our walk, I brought my camera out to get this photo.  It was much less bright than shown in my photo below; actually, at the time we were there, it was less bright than earlier in the evening.

On the ten O’clock news we learned that it’s called the Bush Fire, it’s in the Tonto National Forest, and that traffic has been blocked of on SR 87 (Beeline Hwy).

Update – 2020-06-14:

Marilyn and I went out for another walk, shortly after 8:00pm on Sunday, the 14th.  We first walked up to the top of the hill where I had taken the earlier photo. We returned by walking down the street upon which we lived.  At the top of the street (which is on a hill), we found quite a dramatic view…

Update – 2020-06-15:

On the evening of Monday, the 15th, I walked across McDowell Mountain Road, hiked up one of the hills to the north, and took some more photos.  According to InciWeb, on Monday evening, the Bush Fire is 37,900 acres in size and is still 0% contained.

Remember, this is a long exposure; this scene did not appear this bright while I was there. I was able to see some lights on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, I certainly wasn’t able to see this community in the level of detail shown here – it was much too dark. Likewise, the smoke didn’t have much of the color or glow shown in this photo; that too is due to taking a long exposure.

Update – 2020-06-16:

According to InciWeb, the Bush Fire grew to 64,513 acres in size, still with 0% containment. However, when I went out on my balcony in the evening to look, I saw only a faint glow in several areas. That being the case, I decided against going somewhere to take a photo and instead just took a shot from my balcony. Although my eyes couldn’t see much activity in the distance, a three and half minute exposure picked up a lot of hot spots on Four Peaks in addition to the usual glow in the smoke. I think that the long exposure smoothed out the smoke in addition to making the trees appear out of focus – they’re not out of focus; it’s just motion blur.

Thursday Night Hike

I hiked a little over 10 miles on Thursday evening. I was surprised to see a mountain biker midway around the Long Loop at around sunset. It was a warm evening, but I like it that way.

At one time, this area was popular with motorcycles.  The short, steep hills in this area are riddled with trails, often eroded. In some places, such as seen here, jumps have been built, most often with dirt, but sometimes with wood too.

Creosote, I think:

The grasses have become quite dry…

Prickly pear:

As I approached the wash that I’ve recently been exploring, I saw this hill with many saguaros.

Globemallow:

I was surprised to see this really huge rock protruding from midway up the wash bank.

This might be a Monarch Butterfly:

New Mexico Thistle with bee:

This path is is an exit (or entrance) to the wash.  The path eventually leads to an old jeep road.

Desert Marigold:

The exposed dirt banks have dramatic colors near sunset.

I’ve been seeing a lot of this type of snake.  I think it’s a Long Nosed Snake.

A view from the Long Loop somewhat after sunset.  I finished the hike with my headlamp.

Tuesday Night Hike

I hiked 10 miles on Tuesday evening…

I tried and failed (without hiking poles)  to hike up a steep, but loose hill behind me.  As I was backtracking, I noticed this view…

I think this is a buckhorn cholla blossom:

I got this photo while hiking part of the Long Loop:

Globe Chamomile:

A view of the Superstitions as sunset approached:

Saturday Afternoon Hike

Marilyn and I hiked 7.5 miles on Saturday afternoon.  We hiked a similar route to that from two weeks earlier, when I had last visited the park. I’ve been trying to pick routes where we won’t see that many people.

MMRP’s hours have changed so that the park closes at 6:00 PM.  Signs at the entrance indicate that the gates are closing at that time.  In theory, it’s still possible to get out after 6:00 PM, but I’ve not yet put that theory to the test.  I’ve been careful to limit the length of my hikes so that I finish before closing.

Poppies in Pemberton / Stoneman Wash:

One of many dead trees in the wash:

New growth on a buckhorn cholla:

This tree is the landmark that I look for as I near the point where the Long Loop crosses the wash. We saw three cyclists on the Long Loop as we approached.

I think this might be miniature woolystar/woolstar.  Probably the most I’ve ever seen in one place.

Globemallow:

Lupine – we saw big patches of it as we hike along the Pemberton Trail.

Owl clover; we saw a lot of this flower too, but it seems to be drying out now.

A view from near the former ranch homestead (along the Pemberton):

I think this is either Slender Goldenweed or Spiny Goldenweed, but I don’t know which.

Fairy Duster; we were both very surprised to see this so late in the season.

I think this might be a kingsnake. I took several photos from the side and them moved around to take photos from the front. As I did so, it backed away into the nearby brush.

Marilyn spotted this Lizard on the Technical Loop:

Friday Wildflowers

Marilyn and I hiked a little over seven miles through desert near our house.

Owl Clover:

Poppies:

We were on State Trust Land; there’s a lot of junk near the road, but if you are selective about where you look, there’s certainly beauty in the area.

Looking toward the McDowells:

Hedgehog blossoms:

New Mexico Thistle:

I think this is either Spiny Goldenweed or Slender Goldenweed, but I’m not sure which.

Desert Marigold:

I was excited because we got to explore a wash that I hadn’t seen yet.

Chia:

Brittlebush:

Looking toward Four Peaks:

Lupine:

Looking toward the McDowells:

 

Hedgehog cactus blossom:

A view of Red Mountain:

Cholla blossoms:

Friday Hike – MMRP Washes

Marilyn and I hiked through many washes in McDowell Mountain Regional Park. We also hike a short section of the Pemberton Trail.

Poppies:

Lupine:

Chia:

Brittlebush:

More brittlebush:

Saguaros:

Chuparosa:

Globemallow:

New growth on a buckhorn cholla:

Owl clover:

Owl clover and brittlebush:

Pemberton Pond (which is more of a tank or watering hole):

Looking across the Pemberton Trail after visiting the pond:

Weaver’s Needle and the Flatiron, which are both in the Superstition Wilderness, in the distance:

Interesting erosion along one of the washes:

Hedgehog blossom – the first one I’ve seen this year:

Friday Hike – Black Ridge Loop

Marilyn, Linda, Heather, Sara, Mike, and I hiked eight miles on the Black Ridge Loop in the Mazatzal Wilderness.

This is the view of old SR 87 at the start of the hike.

Mount Ord had patchy snow!

These might be Goldfields:

Indian Paintbrush:

Marilyn, Heather, Sara, Mike, and Linda – practicing “social distancing” while hiking!

Linda tells me that these pink flowers are in the Evening Primrose family.

Mexican Poppy:

Linda thinks that these yellow flowers are Western Wallflowers.

We think that’s Horseshoe Dam / Reservoir in the distance. (Thanks to Heather for looking this up.)

Small cacti – I don’t know what they are.

Other peaks in the area had a dusting of snow too.

You can see evidence here of the Sunflower Fire. There’s a lot of new growth though…

Brunson Tank – the fullest that I’ve seen it:

We saw these bones as we neared Upper Sheep Creek:

It was a muddy hike; this is Sara’s boot.

We’re on (or near) the Little Saddle Mountain Trail now.  The creek / drainage next to the trail had more water in it than I had ever seen before.  We had to cross it a number of times. On one occasion, the trail was in the stream; I think we all got our feet wet.

This was near one of the many crossings; it wasn’t the biggest crossing though.

Fleabane:

This sign is at the end of the connector trail coming from the Cross F Trailhead.

Sunday Hike – Wagner-Granite-Bluff Loop

Marilyn and I hiked 5.5 miles in MMRP on Sunday. Flowers are blooming here, especially the owl clover.

Fiddleneck:

I don’t know what these are.

Globemallow:

Owl clover:

We saw many large patches of owl clover along the Granite Trail.

Brittlebush; it’s blooming now, but not as much as I expected.

Lupine:

There’s a small patch of brittlebush in this photo of Red Mountain.

More brittlebush in the foreground. Our destination was the boulders near the bottom of the photo.

Brittlebush and chuparosa here…

Poppies along the Bluff Trail. Up until that point, we hadn’t seen many poppies on our hike.

Tortilla Canyon / Peter’s Canyon

Mike, Ben, Marilyn, Linda, Denise, Laura, and Marilyn joined me for a hike of Tortilla Canyon and Peter’s Canyon.

Looking northeast after leaving Tortilla Flat. The road in the photo is the Apache Trail. The section seen here is now open to local traffic only. There is a section, further on, that was closed after last year’s fire.

Looking back in the other direction…

New signage; I haven’t hiked it yet, but it’s my understanding that Fragile Arch Saddle is on the way to Geronimo Head and Malapais Mountain.

Another view prior to descending into Tortilla Canyon:

Both Tortilla and Peter’s Canyon had more water than I’d seen before. We encountered water as soon as we reached the canyon floor.

In this photo are Denise, Marilyn, Ben, Linda, Marilyn, and Mike. (Laura was standing next to me when I took this photo.)

Linda and Marilyn H cross the water in Tortilla Canyon. Early on, most of us tried to keep our feet dry.  I think most of us got our feet wet at some point during the day.

Denise in Tortilla Canyon:

There were a few spots where we could walk along the bank, but much of the time we made our way up-canyon by hopping from boulder to boulder through the water.

Nearing the entrance to Peter’s Canyon…

This is the entrance to Peter’s Canyon:

This was actually a small waterfall; my camera placement makes it look more impressive than it actually was.

Peter’s Canyon had even more rocks than Tortilla Canyon:

There’s an early section of Peter’s Canyon which has really big boulders.  Mike, Ben, Marilyn H, Marilyn B, and I scrambled up and down these boulders working our way up-canyon while Denise, Laura, and Linda bushwhacked along one side of the canyon.

The canyon turns to the right here and then becomes much easier for a time.

Looking back the way we came…

This is the view just after turning the corner:

Looking back towards the corner:

We made our way along the rock of the right bank along this section of the canyon. This was an “easy” section; after this point, there was some bushwhacking to be done…

We saw poppies (and other flowers too) while bushwhacking along one of the banks.

Linda and Marilyn work their way up-canyon as we near Peter’s Cave:

Peter’s Cave, on the right.

Looking back (down-canyon) from near Peter’s Cave:

Heading back now; Peter’s Cave can be seen in the center of the photo.  It doesn’t look like it here, but it’s actually a good ways up off the canyon floor, maybe 40 feet or so.

The group split somewhere around this point; Marilyn, Marilyn, and I had had enough bushwhacking and opted to hike through the water on the way back. It was slower, but it was also more fun.

This is a shot that I got while hiking through the water. I was happy that my camera was still working because I had taken a spill earlier, landing in the water.

More poppies:

Marilyn, Ben, Denise, Linda, Marilyn, and Mike. (Laura had stayed behind just prior to turning the corner mentioned earlier; we’re probably about 15 minutes away from rejoining her at this spot.)

Ben and I have just turned the corner. If you look closely, you can see Laura further down the canyon. I’m not sure, but I think there might be some petroglyphs on the left wall. I didn’t notice these while I was there.

Looking down-canyon; Laura can be seen in the distance. In the foreground, from left to right are Denise, Marilyn, Marilyn, Linda, Ben, and Mike’s arm/hand.

Linda and Denise (photo credit Linda Kalbach):

Kevin, Marilyn, Laura, Mike, Linda, Ben, and Denise (photo credit: Marilyn Huot):

Laura and Kevin (photo credit: Marilyn Huot):

Friday Fitness Hike

Mike, Marilyn, Diane, and Gayle joined me for a 7.5 mile hike starting from the Wagner Trailhead.

Views from Bluff Wash…

Looking toward the McDowells from the Pemberton Trail:

A very healthy saguaro along the Bluff Trail:

Looking toward the Superstitions from the Bluff Trail:

Some of the first poppies of the season…

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