Tucson – February 2023 – Sabino Canyon’s Rattlesnake Canyon

A 75 degree Sunday in early February was perfect for going for a hike in Tucson’s best natural area, Sabino Canyon.

Southern Arizona is one of those places where you can have a saguaro cactus and snow topped mountains in the same shot.

While at first glance they may all look like, many seem to take on personalities with the variation in the arms.

The hike on this day took us through Rattlesnake Canyon. Good news – it was a canyon. Better news – no rattlesnakes were seen on this day.

Eventually we made our way into a wash that had water running through it from the snow melt thousands of feet above us up in the Catalina Mountains.

While the Saguaro National Park is located just a few miles away from here, Sabino Canyon has a much denser cacti collection due mainly to the fact that back in the 1930s they allowed cows to graze in the National Park area, and many of the saguaros were destroyed.

Most cholla’s are brownish/green but sometimes you find purple ones.

The canyon got deeper as we made our way towards the end.

Sabino Canyon is one of Tucson’s most popular spot, and it is well deserved.

Red Canyon, Utah – September 2022 – Arches Trail

Just west of Bryce is an area known as Red Canyon. Managed by the Forest Service, Red Canyon has a number of trails that take the hiker for scenic views. We chose to take the Arches Trail.

From this vantage point you could see further west across the Servier River valley.

Much like Willis Creek Slot Canyon since it is not a National Park there are no crowds. On our mile hike we saw 2 other people.

The trail is named for the 15 small to medium arches scattered throughout.

The hike has a vertical rise of almost 200′ on it’s stated 0.6 mile route. We ended up going a bit longer wander off on side trails.

Red Canyon make an excellent side trip if time permits in the Bryce/Zion National Parks area.

Bryce Canyon National Park – September 2022 – Below the Rim

This posting is one in a series for a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. When we visited in 2015 we stopped by for only a few hours, checking out the overlooks before moving on down the road.

This time we were fortunate enough to secure a cabin in the park for the night, so we had plenty of time for hiking, as well as well as experiencing a sunset and sunrise.

This posting highlights the views of the hike down into the canyon to the Queens Garden. This hike allows you get get up close to the famed hoodoos.

The hoodoos have been formed over millions of years by the deposit of rocks, uplift of the land and finally the erosion of the soft stone to create the interesting formations.

The variation in shapes are due to the slight variations in the amount of calcium carbonate each one has, and how it interacts with the rain.

Our hike took place in the northern section of the park where the hoodoos are the youngest, therefore most impressive having not been eroded away as much.

The path down was well worn, and while you see a number of people going in both directions, it is far less crowded than along the rim.

The hike up, while strenuous was ‘do-able’. In addition there were so many great places to stop and take photos the hike up went by fast.

As always the ‘windows’ are impressive features of the erosion process.

Part 2 of our visit in the next posting tomorrow is the sunset experience.

Kane County, Utah – September 2022 – Kodachrome Basin State Park

The colorful sandstone geology of Kodachrome Basin State Park lead to it’s name – The National Geographic Society named it such, and despite potential legal risk from Kodak films the name was adopted.

The monolithic spires rise up throughout the park. The sandstone seems so fragile that just brushing up against it seems to take off a layer.

I am unsure of the name of this rock.

We took the Grand Parade hike, which leads past most of the highlights and into a couple of the box canyons.

The vegetation that is in the area was in bloom from the recent monsoon rains.

Our visit complete, we headed off towards our next stop – Bryce National Park – but not before enjoying more of the scenery of the area around Kodachrome Basin.

Kane County, Utah – September 2022 – Willis Creek Slot Canyon

Southern Utah has numerous very famous natural attractions such as Bryce National Park. In addition to those you can find some amazing places that aren’t as crowded.

One of those is Willis Creek Slot Canyon. One potential reason is the road to the trailhead is a fantastically bumpy, at times steep, dirt road. We travelled 5-6 miles down this road, and found the parking lot empty at 8 AM, although next door was a group of about 10 horses and riders who had just finished their adventure.

After chatting with their leader and getting guidance on the hike, we set off.

We quickly dropped down into the canyon and it’s eponymously named creek. Fortunately despite some recent rains Willis Creek was quite small on this day so we were able to hop back and forth across it.

It didn’t take long for the canyon walls to narrow and rise to a height of about 10-20′.

The young lady who had lead the horse riding group had advised us that we would go through 4 separate slot canyons on our hike. This first one remain with walls up to about 20′ high.

As we continued downstream we would pop in and out of slot canyons.

Eventually the creek ran dry and the hiking became easier. Most slot canyons require some level of scrambling over boulders, but not here – just a casual hike down the canyon.

Eventually the walls rose to a height of up to 100′.

After about a mile and a half we ran out of slot canyons and made the decision to turn back there. The return trip was just as interesting as the morning sun changed the look seemingly every minute.

On our return trip we passed about 6 other groups of hikers, reaffirming my belief that if you want solitude in nature get going at the crack of dawn.

Willis Slot Canyon is a great hike for anyone, with a fun drive to get there.

Guadalupe Mountains, Texas – September 2022 – The National Park Tour Continues

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about 100 miles east of El Paso, near the New Mexico border. It is about 45 miles from Carlsbad Caverns, making it a perfect day to visit two parks in one day.

The visitor center is one of the few structures in the park. It is conveniently located near the campground, as well as the start of the primary trails.

One trail goes all the way to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. We chose a different trail, the Devil’s Hall Trail.

After a couple of miles you reach the wash that leads to Devil’s Hall. The wash is full of rocks and boulders, which for me, was too much to overcome to make it to Devil’s Hall. Still it was a scenic workout.

Picacho Peak, Arizona – August 2022 – Redundant Name for A Unique Mountain

Picacho in Spanish means peak, so this mountain is basically Peak Peak. The highest peak rises 2,000 feet above the valley floor.

Picacho Peak is about 45 miles west of downtown Tucson, and is along I-10, the major route from Tucson to Phoenix and beyond.

For a number of reasons I hiked only to the saddle, a 300′ rise in about a mile one way.

Madera Canyon, Arizona – December 2021 – Nature At It’s Finest

Madera Canyon is less than an hour south of Tucson, but a world away from an ecological perspective. While the base of the canyon is around 3500′ elevation, you can easily and quickly drive to over 5000′, and if you are energetic (I was not), you can hike to the top of 9456′ high Mt Wrightson.

We chose to hike around the lower areas of the canyon, which were beautiful, offer views from desert to fall tree colors.

Central Ohio – May 2021 – Weekend Wanderings

With minimal travel we had a weekend hiking close to home that gave a few photo ops of downtown Columbus, as well as nearby Licking County.

The trip to Licking County included a hike in Blackhand Gorge Park. Named for a (now long gone) Native American petroglyph the hike goes through a small ravine along a creek. The sandstone cliffs have a variety of vegetation growing on them.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering the backroads of the county.

We came across this fantastic abandoned schoolhouse. As I approached for a closer look the bird came flying out adding to the excitement.

Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina – January 2020 – Hiking on a Glacier

Los Glaciares provided a chance to do something I had never done – gone hiking on a glacier.

To get there we took a short boat ride across the lake in front of the Perito Moreno Glacier, and ‘docked’ – which was really a stop along rocks shaped somewhat into steps.

We headed across the rocks and beach toward the huts to get prepared – the huts looked tiny compared to where we were headed.

As we were standing on the beach getting some background on how glaciers work a 70 meter (210 foot) high wall of ice came falling down (aka calving). It was very cool – but I do not have room for the 30 or so photos I managed to take in burst mode!

Finally we reached the hut and received our crampons.

The wall of ice was daunting – but we were headed for a more gradual rise.

We were broken up into English speakers and Spanish speakers, then further into groups of 15. Our leader was Ceffi.

And we were off…

Before long we were in the middle of the ice going up, down and over obstacles.

The staff was very helpful, making sure we didn’t fall into crevasses.

The views were fantastic.

Near the end of our 2 hours on the ice we celebrated with a whiskey on ice – straight from the glacier. Ceffi and the rest of the staff were excellent – fun, informative and foremost making sure everything was done safely.

And with that we returned to the starting point where we could reflect on how awesome the hike had been – on top of this massive glacier.