Wednesday, April 10, 2013

High country hike - Greenhouse Trail

the other day we decided to hike to higher elevations.  Our Sunny Flat campground in Cave Creek Canyon is 5180 ft.  we drove up this jeep trail west of campground about 4 miles to 6500 ft.  We wanted to see Winn Falls which drops 400 ft.   Here are some iPhone shots.
Thought we could reach base of falls on this GreenHouse trail.

Started out quite pleasant through forest glens into the Chiricahua Wilderness.
Across streams

And up, up, up, more up!  Turns out a whole bunch of switchbacks through the 2011 burn.  However we finally made it to the crest and saw this view which was worth the hike.

We sat in the shade eating out nuts and fruits.  I drank from my "sippee cup"

We finally saw the falls.  Turns out we saw it from above not at the base.  Still beautiful.  Falls 400 feet!

- blessings from the road

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Five Warbler Morning

The punch line:
Townsend's warbler, Virginia's warbler, Yellow Rumped Warbler, Painter Red Start, Black Throated Grey Warbler. Plus 15 other species. Whew!

The April storm came through overnight. Yesterday winds around 25-30 wth gusts up to 55 mph were blowing everything around. Mid-afternoon, As l departed portal cafe after my 2 hour office visits through email and Skype, I looked east into the valley. Or at least tried because the winds had kicked up a dust storm in the valley below so I could barely see the mountains on the other side.

Fortunately we are in Cave Creek Canyon sheltered by high mountain cliffs which kept most, but not all, of the dust away. Back a t the campground we visited with our neighbors, all thankful we had solid roofs over our heads. Except one guy in a tent. I vaguely remember those days, in my youth where we would tent camp, backpack in and use bivvy sacks, reveling in the weather (most of the time).

Night approached and we settled into the evening quiet, enjoying the winds that rattled even our big motorhome. I looked out a couple times to see clouds coming in then later clear sky. The nights are so dark here and the sky is so clear. Clearer that home due to less light pollution. Down in the valley we had seen a cluster of homes, each with their own star observatories, so this must be quite the place for amateur astronomers. We had seen the NASA space station zoom across the night before. Crystal clear.

We heard rain during the night, one good hard rain and a couple little sprinkles. Waking up we saw clouds and the temp had dropped to low 40's. We began to se some hail and even a little bit of snow. We sat in the front seats of the RV, drinking our morning beverages, and began to watch the birds.
Colder mornings bring out the best in these avian wonders. The trees seems to fill. The trees birds of different sorts. The hummingbird feeder was, well humming with business.

The best times it seems to watch the birds right now is 7:30-9:00 AM. Air traffic was thick in the air. I don't have any good overall shots of this but got some good pix of individual birds.

Here are some photos from this morning
Bridled Titmouse in tree.  Moves fast.  hard to catch

Townsend's Warbler (fuzzy because through front window)

Scott's Oriole

Cassen's Kingbird

And best of all, Rufous Hummingbird

Location:Portal, AZ

Monday, April 8, 2013

Back to the Chiracahua's

We enjoyed our three nights in Silver City, NM.  We stocked up on good grub from the local Coop, and stuffed ourselves with good food at the Curious Cumquat, and Sheveka's along with spicy New Mexican chile Rellenos at Jalisco.  Now back to the Chiricahua mountains and Portal, AZ, a birding mecca. (Surprise surprise).
Driving down the 100 miles from Silver City we recalled how we have driven across I-10 several times and looked south at these mountains.  From a distance they look like many of the other mountains around the area.

As we moved closer we begin to see the definition and the cliffs of Cave Creek Canyon.

Driving up Cave Creek Canyon we begin to see just how beautiful this area is.

And of course, we put out the hummingbird feeder.  Already seen 6 different species and migration has hardly begun.  We are early for the April-May migration.

We make up for it in the Sunny Flat Campground, arguably one of the most scenic forest service campgrounds anywhere in USA.  These photos are from my iPhone and seem a bit washed out compared to the actual visual.

We are surrounded 360 degrees with magnificent cliffs and mountains.  And, while no Stellars or Scrub Jays, we have plenty of Mexican Jays, Juncos and Orioles keeping the Hummers company.  more about Hummers later.

- blessings from the road

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Trail of the Mountain Spirits.

In SW New Mexico, resides Gila National Forest, the largest in the lower 48. Also the Gila River, the longest "non-dammed" river in the lower 48. Betcha didn't know that! We didn't until visiting.

Departing Silver City, we drove north on the "Tail of the Mountain Spirits" National Scenic Byway.

We first stopped at Pinos Altos, small town from Wild West days. I posed in front of a store owned by the famous gunman Judge Rou Bean.

We saw A church built by Phoebe Hearst, mother of William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper magnate.

The winding road made Hwy 49 near our home look like a freeway but was well worth the ride with the vistas.

We arrived at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument wherein lived ancient natives back in late 13th Century.

Looters and removed most if the artifacts along time ago so not much is known about them. The dating of the dwellings were done on the trees used for roof support.

What's is really interesting is the ability to climb around in them.

Up and down the ladders. As we explored the ruins, it wasn't hard to imagine how these people lived and various scenarios of how they came to be here for only 30 years, then disappear.

An interesting not eat the trailhead wastage electric vehicle used to transport the docents to and from their living quarters. Due to budget cuts, only 2 paid rangers run this park along with a dozen docents. Really neat.

We retired around the loop if the byway through Mimbres canyon and past the large open pit copper mine just east of Silver city.

Quite a fun day.
- blessings from the road

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

- blessings from the road

Location:W McCain Loop,Tucson,United States

Chiricahua National Monument

We drive on a dirt road over a 7600 ft mountain pass from our campground to this area.

15 million years ago a volcano blew similar to Mt St Helen's, spreading deep layers of ash which welded and fused together in varying degrees of hardness.

The ages eroded and weathered the rocks to leave these incredible hoodoo like formations.

We hiked a 4 mile trail through an area called Echo canyon and marveled at the amazing shapes.

This area is in Apache country. I could just imagine Cochise and Geronimo riding through here.

- blessings from the road