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Rim to rim

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

Our Grand Canyon trip was a great success. Most notable, our training paid off — we never felt hugely taxed, and after it was all over, we weren’t sore (unlike last time).

You might remember that we decided to do the trip in four days this time instead of two. That worked out well. However, leaving camp at first light to avoid the heat sometimes brought us into the next camp before 8am! That let us do a couple day hikes though, including Ribbon Falls and Plateau Point, which were both spectacular. It’s always nice to hike without the heavy packs once you’re used to them.

Ribbon Falls — cool on a hot day

Me on the plateau

We hadn’t been on the north rim before this, and it was very beautiful. Also the trail down from there had fewer hikers which was nice.

It’s always striking the range of people you see on this trail. We saw people who could barely hike (just doing a short day hike from the rim) to people who were running it rim-to-rim. We also met folks doing rim-to-rim-to-rim.

The weather was good. It was a bit windy but not as hot as the last time we did it. At the rim, nighttime temperatures were cool (40s), and we even saw a couple patches of snow. At the bottom, the high in the shade was 106.

Data:

31.5 total miles (including side trips)

starting elevation: 8327 feet

elevation at the bottom: 2445 feet

ending elevation: 6851 feet

Our team, getting ready to set off from the North Rim

More pictures here

Earliest edible tomato we’ve ever harvested

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Cochise Stronghold

Monday, May 15th, 2017

This weekend’s backpacking trip was to Cochise Stronghold, which is on the west side of the Chiricahuas from us and to the south of Texas Canyon (the one with the amazing rocks just off I-10). We hiked from the campground to the pass and then over to the west side. We backcountry camped there overnight and then headed back. We went with our friend Judy who will be going to the Grand Canyon with us.

It was a much more enjoyable hike than our last one. The hike itself was relatively easy and the views were incredible.

Here’s the data. (The difference in distances between the days is because we tacked an extra few miles onto Sat. before camping.)

        

Garden update

Monday, May 8th, 2017

I have about a half dozen little green tomatoes on plants. This is the earliest by far that this had happened. Chalk if up to starting with starts instead of seeds.

And the gourds are progressing along.

It’s been windy here this weekend so I’m hoping everything weathers it ok.

What’s growing?

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I love spring here. So many things are blooming, and our garden is getting in full swing. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s growing right now.

  • Asparagus is still producing, but it’s starting to tail off.
  • Lettuce, arugula, chard, and radishes are producing strong. We’ve been selling all of this as well. (Our farmers market got off to a great start last week. In the first week, we had more vendors than we ever did last year. This has been a goal of mine.) I’m trying to keep up with succession planting while it’s still cool enough at nights to germinate.

    Cherry belle radishes

  • Onions, garlic, and shallots all look great. We are looking for garlic scapes now and should see them any minute. This stuff will be harvested around June.
  • I’ve planted new green beans (mostly for market), tomatoes (not for market :), and peppers, and they’re looking good. I’ll be putting in cucumbers and melons soon.
  • We’ve replanted new artichokes since the old ones got eaten down to the roots last year.
  • The pomegranates are blooming nicely so we’re hopeful for fruit this year.
  • We’ve been eating strawberries and mulberries, and the figs and blackberries are greening up.
  • One thing I’m excited about this year is growing some gourds for a friend of mine who hopes to make them into drums. The seeds have germinated, and they look strong. Stay tuned for updates on that.
  • The hedgerow and its flowers continue to be a work in progress. This year with the new fence, I’m more optimistic. I also planted some hearty native perennial flowers near the house this year. (And I said I’d never do “landscaping!”) They’re really beautiful, and I’m surprised how much they brighten things up.

flowers by the house

Backpacking in the canyon

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

The canyon behind our house is a part of a large area of national forest that goes from north of the national monument to south of Rucker Canyon (about 15 miles north of Douglas). We’ve always wanted to do a backpacking trip in the forest that ended at our house, and this weekend we did.

On Friday night, we camped at the Sunny Flat campground a few miles from Portal. Then early Saturday, we set out toward Horseshoe Canyon.

Here are the overall stats for the hike:

Overall distance: 21.6 miles (8.6 on Saturday, 13 on Sunday)

Starting elevation: 5079 ft

Highest elevation: 7220 ft

Final elevation: 4300 ft

Overall, it was a harder hike than we had anticipated. There was a good amount of elevation change, but the real challenge was the trail or lack thereof. Much of the trail had been washed away by Hurricane Odile and consisted of stream beds with large boulders strewn everywhere and large downed trees. In many cases, we ended up walking twice as far as would normally be required in order to avoid obstacles. Climbing over and around boulders and trees added difficulty as well. I was glad we had a GPS because I’m not sure we could have reliably found the way otherwise.

typical “trail”

This was also a trial run for overnight backpacking and our equipment for the upcoming Grand Canyon trip. On that front, all went well.

It was fun to end up at our house, though by the end of Sunday, we were super tired.

We are planning to do another backpacking trip soon, but probably won’t do this one again. Maybe next time will be from Rucker Canyon to our house.

SpargelFest and the fence

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

The asparagus is coming in well now, and so tonight we’re having a SpargelFest (something I didn’t even know was a thing until today; thanks, E). When I saw this recipe for asparagus and green garlic soup, I thought it was time to experiment with green garlic, which is really just baby spring garlic. Here’s what I pulled up. They smell so good!

And our fence is up! Yay! Attractiveness was a big consideration, since this is right in front of our living room mountain view, and I think it came out nice. (This picture only shows about half the length of the long side — it’s a big area.)

For the first time ever, my tomato seeds didn’t germinate, so I bought starts. It feels a bit like cheating but I have to say that the starts look healthier than mine from seed ever do. I prepared the bed for them today, though I probably won’t put them out for a couple weeks. I read that marigolds are a good companion plant and can help fight off tomato works and gnarly root nematodes, so I put some seeds in for those. With the fence, I’m feeling confident that the rabbits won’t eat them this year.

 

Spring

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

With snowstorms hitting much of the country hard this week, we are enjoying sunny weather in the 80s. The first asparagus has appeared, signaling that spring is here.

We’ve also been working in earnest on fencing the garden area. We decided to go with heavy-duty cattle panels (much heavier than barbed or chicken wire — we are confident this will stop large animals like javelina from getting through) and hardware cloth on the bottom couple feet (which should stop rabbits). Rodents will still be able to climb in, but even they should be slowed down…we hope.

We’ve also been doing some new spring planting, including more greens.

And last weekend, we took a hike at Cochise Stronghold. This is national forest land with a campground that is on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains from us.

Lettuce

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

This is the first year that I’ve successfully had lettuce all winter.

Actually, lettuce does fine here in temperatures down to zero and even in snow (though I cover it with a light row cover). It doesn’t grow a lot once it gets cold though, so the challenge is to plant it when it can germinate and grow, but not so early that it bolts. It’s also necessary to do this in an amount that gives you lettuce all winter. Until this year, I never quite got it right, but this morning, I harvested all this lettuce. There’s still more that’s harvest-ready and now another younger batch that should be ready in a few weeks. Now I just need to keep the new successions coming.

In training

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

So this year’s plan for a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon trip has been permitted (it’s quite a lengthy process that relies on some degree of luck), and so we are in training.

This weekend, we climbed Silver Peak (about 20 minutes from our house, near Portal). It’s just under 10 miles round trip, and the elevation gain to the top is 3000 feet. (To compare, the elevation change to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is 5850, and it’s 4860).

On the first part of the trail, we were surprised to find several horses that had apparently been turned loose there. They were very friendly, and we shared an apple with them.

Toward the top of the climb, there was quite a lot of snow. This made the going a lot slower.

Here’s the view from the top.