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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

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.)

        

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.

Big Bend

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here, but I wanted to get a quick post up about our camping trip to Big Bend National Park. It’s the 30th national park I’ve visited. We loved it. Though we weren’t able to stay long this time, we will definitely go back. (I’m especially looking forward to a rafting trip.)

For those interested in a visit, it’s an easy 7.5 hour drive from here.

Big Bend National Park

Camping!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

It is one of the most lovely times of year to go camping here, and we took advantage of the long weekend to see a new place, Aguiree Springs in the Organ Mountains just east of Las Cruces.

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These mountains are quite dramatic, and the hikes we did around them were beautiful. And because of the late monsoons, everything was in bloom! (And yes, the mosquitoes were in full force.)

Cloverdale

Monday, May 25th, 2015

This weekend, we took an excursion south of Animas to an old (ghost?) town called Cloverdale. (Spoiler: There isn’t much town left.)

It was a beautiful drive with amazing landscapes. Most of the land down there was bought up some time back by the Diamond A Ranch, which is 321,000 acres and is connected with the Nature Conservancy. Despite that, there were “no trespassing” signs posted everywhere.

On the whole drive, we only saw two other vehicles, one Border Patrol and one rancher, both pretty close to Animas. We did see several pronghorn as well.

In the southern part of this land, we found an old abandoned homestead house. We also had directions to the old Cloverdale cemetery. It turned out that there wasn’t a road to it any more, but we walked a mile or so and found it.

Near there, the ranch is bordered by large amounts of national forest and BLM land which you can access by road. We are definitely going to return and do some camping down there.

Being there felt like being in a place no one else had been in a very long time.

New hike

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

This week, we completed a new hike to the top of Silver Peak. (We’d attempted this before but not reached the summit.) It’s in the Chiricahua Mountains, near Portal, about a half hour from our house.

It’s a fairly strenuous hike. About 10 miles round trip and 3,000 feet gain in elevation. (Yes, Brad is better.)

Here’s the view from the top. (There was even a log book there. That’s neat.)

And a few other pics.

At the top of this thing, there are about 4 flights of stairs to the observation platform.

At the top of this thing, there are about 4 flights of stairs to the observation platform.

Brad at the top

Brad at the top

me at the top

me at the top

 

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silverpeak

Clicking on this will take you to a detailed map of this hike. (click satellite in upper right for the best view )

Let’s go camping

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

We took a spontaneous camping trip this weekend.We didn’t want to spend too long away from home with lots of new seedlings in the garden and hot weather predicted (drip irrigation isn’t running yet), so we decided to camp nearby up in the national monument.

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It was really nice to unplug for a few days and enjoy all the unexpected beauty that nature has to share.

We knew there would be many spring blooms this time of year, but hadn’t ever seen a cactus flower this color.

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We were able to do several hikes that we hadn’t done before including one that ended with a view of this natural bridge.

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The most unexpected thing from this trip was unfortunately one I wasn’t able to photograph. After dark, a wild turkey circled our camp, calling out all the way. “Gobble, gobble, gobble. Gobble, gobble, gobble.” It was delightful. Brad thought maybe we should try to get some to hang around the house. I think not.

The grace of nature

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Today, we took in a deep drink of the beauty here — the golds, fuschias, and scarlets of the wild flowers; the huge, towering rocks hoodoos; the music of mountain streams swelled from the monsoons; the company of good friends; the exhilaration of knowing that life is sometimes very good.

 

(more pics here)

With a friend visiting, we drove through the mountains to the Chiricahua National Monument. It’s a short trip we’ve made several times without ever ceasing to be amazed at the surrounding beauty. The land changes radically with the season, the amount of rainfall, the light, and even our moods and the company we have along. Always, it makes me pause and wonder why I spend so much time worrying about things that don’t really matter.

Truly, this kind of beauty, the people we share our lives with, and the stewardship we exercise over both are the things that are essential.

Oh, and today I saw my first bear in Coronado. I’ve heard many stories about how plentiful bears are here. I’ve wanted to see a bear for a long time. This morning, I decided today would be the day. And thanks to Brad’s eagle eyes, we saw a bear.

It was a magnificent bear. Seen through the trees and across a small stream, it was just the distance from which I’d like a see a bear — close enough to get a good look, far enough to make both me and him reasonably comfortable. It was a large bear, larger than I’d expected, with a full, healthy coat and a solid rump. He looked at us, loped a little further up the hill, and then turned to take another look.

image credit: cogdog (Alan Levine) – CC BY SA

 

This year’s Heritage Days activities

Monday, September 9th, 2013

This weekend was the annual local Heritage Days event here. As we’ve done in previous years, Brad and I put together the kids’ activities, which were a big hit. (More on that here if you’re interested.)

This year, Heritage Days included a field day hike to some local Indian rock paintings. The beginning of this hike was just about 30 minutes from our house. The hike up to the rocks was about 2 hours. We were happy to be able to go on this hike (we’ve mostly been trying to focus on the house instead of things like this, but it was nice to go, and we were able to take a couple neighbor kids along), and we never would have found this if we hadn’t had a great leader!

Here are some pictures.