The call of the Aspen Draw trail in November is the gold of the aspen leaves in combination with the the pink-red of the maples. Most of the leaves have fallen and the fall treasures are already beginning to fade. It’s nearly time to take our explorations to a lower elevation for the winter.
Dateline 24 October 2017
The mountain beckoned and we decided to start the Green Mountain trail at the top and walk to the lower end. Time had passed since any of the group had done that and various “social” trails near the trailhead confused us momentarily so we were happy to reach the first signpost. The footing for the trail requires attention in places as there is loose scree. Some of the early summer’s wildfires had reached parts of the trail and it seemed that there was more loose rock washed on the trail in the burned areas – still the fire did not greatly impact the level of shade trail-side. While the trail is noted more for the vistas than the fall colors, the yellow leaves of the native grapevines brightened the areas close to the streambeds. After we crossed the saddle the wind picked up which was nice as the day was getting warmer. Towards the end of the trail once we reached the stream the poison ivy provided bright fall color!
Well, a red-letter day is a holiday (a day where the number is written in red on the calendar so it stands out). We all agreed that today was a red-letter hike for two reasons: the weather was perfect and we saw all sorts of red flowers as well as a creature with red stripes.
Spring and fall find the Green Mountain Trail dressed up with flowers. Any time is a perfect time to “saunter.” I recently came across an explanation of the origins of the verb saunter: from à la Saint[e] Terre, traveling to the Holy Land. While this is probably just a pleasant story, walking in the woods or the wilds is no less a pilgrimage and the walk would be less enjoyable if we didn’t stop to greet the plants and flowers.
I find I have been observing more and photographing less, so here are today’s highlights.
Dateline: 8 April 2017
I took a recent opportunity to explore the chaparral region of California’s Santa Monica Mountains by heading up to Will Rogers State Park in the hills above Sunset Boulevard. The park is nestled in the hills next to Topanga State Park and next time I’ll take a longer stroll. This time the Inspiration Point Loop was just right. It had rained overnight and even late in the morning the plants were sparkling with water drops.
The showstopper of the day left me so entranced that no photos were taken – a flight of wild parrots. I also thoroughly enjoyed the twining snapdragon, but the photos were underwhelming. It turns out that blue-flowered Solanum Xantii, unlike many of the nightshades, is a native of the Santa Monica chaparral. There was lots of ceanothus, in fruit and in bloom. Here’s a small selection of what was in bloom.
Dateline: 30 March 2017
If you’ve never heard of Aravaipa Canyon Edward Abbey’s essay is a good place to start. My three word summary is: Best Creekwalk Ever! My two pieces of advice are: don’t delay, head there as soon as you can, and if you wear low-top shoes find some gaiters to keep down the sand and gravel. We did a two-day through hike from east to west and a longer trip would have given us more time for exploring the side canyons. The flowers were blooming, the creek was at an easy wading level, the reflected colors in the water were mesmerizing, the company was grand, the canyon wrens provided a near-constant daytime serenade, and I could sing the praises of this trip for quite a while. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Dateline 14 March 2017
Mid-March is typically the best for wildflowers around the Tucson Basin and this year was no exception. Here is a selection of the most obvious blooms – there were also Blue Dicks, Cryptantha, Desert Evening Primrose, and a few others that escaped the gaze of the camera. Some of them we fondly call “bellyflowers,” meaning they carpet the ground and you have to be on your belly to see them eye to eye.
Dateline: 4 November 2016
With the temperatures finally edging into cooler weather, the bit of the Arizona Trail that runs by Davidson Canyon became a more appealing option. Our objective was to amble through the Cienega Creek Preserve, so we didn’t cover much territory. We did enjoy the cool underneath the cottonwoods which were still very green for this time of year. We encountered a local red-tailed hawk who watched over us for a time.