A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain is THE city mountain to climb in the Phoenix area.  It's the tallest, maybe the toughest, the most iconic.  And the most crowded.  I tend to avoid these bumper-to-bumper "Disneyland trails."  Parking has always sounded like a hassle too, so I never got around to it

Bad move.  Because, despite being a Disneyland trail, it was so worth it.  The trail was...    

Beautiful:  big, dramatic red cliffs of rock above you, great views.



Fun:  clambering over rocks, pulling yourself up with handrails, choosing the best path.



Good exercise:  elevation gain of over 1200 ft in 1.2 miles. 



Perfect for a chuckwalla safari:  we found two of these big lizards, even in January.


If you go:

Do NOT go in the summer, unless you're used to hiking in such temperatures.  Even then, hike early, use extreme caution, pay attention to your body's warning signals, and don't try to be macho.  Every summer people have to be evacuated off the mountain.  Many summers we have at least one fatality.  Though many of these fatalities are from falls, I have to think many wouldn't have fallen if they hadn't been fatigued, light-headed, dizzy, disoriented, etc. from the effects of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  Heat kills more than cold, especially since people don't respect it enough.    

Take some snacks and plenty of water.  Do not underestimate the amount of water you'll need, especially if it's hot.  For a hike this short (but strenuous), you'll still want at very minimum 1.5 quarts/liters of water.  Take more if you plan to spend a long time on the trail, if it's very hot, or if you're not used to this type of hiking.  Turn back once you've used half your water.  

Put everything in a backpack so you have two free hands.  You'll want them on some sections.

Also consider a shade hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.  The sun's pretty unforgiving, even in winter.    

As for parking, here's what we did:  We arrived at the Echo Canyon Trailhead at about 10:15 on a Thursday in January with beautiful weather.  There was plenty of parking.  Perhaps it was a fluke, but it worked fine.  Try to avoid weekends if possible.  We hiked up the Echo Canyon Trail, down the Cholla Trail on the other side, and then took Lyft back to the trailhead.  It went really smoothly.

Have fun and be safe!



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Hawk's Nest in a Sahuaro--Phoenix Sonoran Preserve

A giant hawk's nest in an equally giant sahuaro
Seems a bit prickly to me, but...home is where the heart is.


 You can see this nest for yourself not far along the the appropriately named Hawk's Nest Trail in the southern part of Phoenix Sonoran Preserve.  Park at the Desert Vista Trailhead (1900 W Desert Vista Trail).

Apparently, this nest also gets used by owls in the springtime.  I saw not one feather of either bird, but the nest was impressive!  

You can combine this trail with others (I took the Dixie Mountain Loop to the Valle Verde Trail to the Great Horned Owl Trail to the Union Peak Trail and back along the Desert Tortoise Trail for a nice loop that wasn't too long or too short).  By the way, I love your work, trail namers!

If you like geocaching, you'll find some nice caches along here. 

Happy Hiking! 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Tubac Presidio

At the awesome Tubac Presidio in Tubac, Arizona, south of Tucson.

Me pushing the arrastra, a simple milling mechanism:


A replica of an outdoor kitchen, with ocotillo dividers, gourd storage containers, and a stove with comal for making tortillas:


The first printing press in Arizona.  Don't miss the cool video about the process and all the fascinating information about what an Old West editor had to do:


Strange plant in the herb garden:


Old West public transportation:


Don't skip the beautiful artwork in this room, along with the fascinating historical tales that go with the art.

If you're at all interested in history, culture, archaeology, or botany, you'll love the Tubac Presidio. Some places get caught up in the dry facts of the dates and names and who owned what when, but the Presidio does really well getting at the good stories of the people behind the history.

It's a state park, and costs $5 per person, but it's well worth it.  And if you're in the mood for this type of thing, be prepared to spend at least a full couple of hours.  We spent half the day.  Check it out here:  http://www.tubacpp.com/

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Moon Rise in the Desert


I caught this beautiful super moon at the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve yesterday.  A beautiful night and a great way to start off 2018!

And here's what led up to it: