Friday, December 11, 2009
Arizona, Nov 2009
Sat - Drive Houston, TX to City of Rocks State Park, NM
Sun - Silver City, NM, Drive to Tucson, U of A, Summit Hut, Fry’s, drive-by of the old homestead, Erik and Sara’s
Mon - Frank’s for bfast, Tanque Verde wash hike, Drive up Mt Lemmon, hike Sunset Trail, Drive to Gate’s Pass, hike Yetman Trail
Tues - Frank’s, Drive to Supes, hike Peralta Trail, Camp at Tortilla Flat on Canyon Lake
Wed - Walk and drive Globe, Set up camp at Oak Flat CG, Hike Haunted Canyon
Thurs - Drive back to Tucson via 77/Winkelman/Oracle (beautiful!), TG dinner
Fri - Hike Deception Mountain w Erik, Eat leftovers, play Scrabble, watch Golden Girls
Sat - Walk around U of A campus, Visit with Marcus and have lunch at his house, drive to Columbus, NM
Sun - attempt to collect xenos at Kilbourne Hole, drive back to Houston
11/21/2009 -11/22/2009 Saturday-Sunday
Left home on Sandfield at 6:45 am. Drove west on I-10. Made a few brief stops for potty and fuel. Darkness fell, made it to City of Rocks State Park, north of Deming, NM. A decent place – towers of tuff. A bit hard to navigate at night. Had a small fire, read a bit of The Time Machine, then slept. Cold but I wasn’t too cold – uppermost 30s F. Got up a little after 6 am local time – 7 am Houston. It was light. Snapped some photos. It was pretty. Packed up quick and stopped off at the bathroom on the way out for a quick shower (gotta love NM state parks). Drove into Silver City, NM. A neatish hippyish town with lots of narrow one-way streets. Found the “old town” and stopped at a GLBT coffee shop, they directed me to Vickie’s, where I went and had a good breakfast. Wish I had more time to explore, seemed like a neat town and a good starting-out point for lots of adventures into the mountainous area just to the north. Boogied down 90 to I-10. Was sooo happy to be in Arizona. Had huge smile on my face for hundreds of miles. Familiar mountains, profiles. Fascinated by old, dying, dead, decaying towns – e.g. Lordsville. Why dead? When hayday? Didn’t seem too far from border into Tucson. Was a little early so stopped at UA. Then drove by old Weymouth house, then Fry’s for a bottle of Grey Goose vodka, then stopped at Summit Hut and got sun hat and Superstitions map. Met guy (manager?) who knew Rivendell and had a Riv-built bike in back (I was wearing a Riv shirt). Erik and Sara’s – great to see them, Sabkha very happy to see Russ, amazed they remember each other and are instant best buddies. We chatted for quite a while and drank some PBRs. Erik and I then set out for a walk with the hounds. Talked about our business ideas and risk analysis. We saw a solitary javalina. Nice to be in AZ and around the cacti, saguaro. Feels like I never left. Tucson seems a lot smaller compared to Houston – it doesn’t take long to get around, everything is closer than I remember. After a nice dinner and more chat we all sit around dining table with our laptops type type typing. I was planning to visit Globe, AZ, and see if I could live there. I’m thinking if I don’t come out to AZ I should try to get a job in San Antonio or Dallas. Useable water. Closer to mountains.
Got up and out of the house early. Went to Frank’s for Geoff’s special bfast. Then off to Tanque Verde Canyon. No one around. Unseasonably warm around here, about 10 degrees above normal, touching the high 70s daytimes. Sab and I hiked down the familiar trail into TV Canyon. Today I wanted to do all those hikes I daydream about. TV was what I remember, but it was a bit disappointing. It seemed small and bland and full of gravel. Maybe it is more full of gravel. It was a bit dry too – I guess a weak monsoon this year. We went to the pool at the almost-end. Why do I always go to the same place over and over? Human nature. There are many canyons nearby, or even downcanyon which I’ve never done, although I’ve visited TV probably 20 times. We didn’t see anyone. Back at the car turned and headed up Catalina Highway. Everything seemed pretty and friendly. Stopped at grocery store to get snack and cash back for the Catalina fee. Everyone seems more relaxed on the road and off. There is a lot more space. Things are a bit more ramshackle and naturalistic and it’s tolerated and liked. People line their driveways with stone; they let the desert run wild in their yards. In Houston if you let the jungle run wild – well, you don’t. Up Catalina, I had the same sensation of smallness and “so what”. It was just as beautiful as I always remember, but it all seemed compressed. A result of Europe, Japan, Houston? It didn’t seem as far up; it didn’t seem as scary. Up top we stopped at the Sunset trailhead – I’d never hiked it before. A half-mile or so in a weird little deserted cabin community, all brown with green metal roofs, it must be a Forest Service regulation. The trail itself was pretty but suffered the same trouble as many Catalina hikes – steep oddness. You’re up on top of a rather pointy mountain range. All the trails are up and down or on a steep hillside, which makes them all a bit uncomfortable. I didn’t really realize until this trip that much of the Cats doesn’t make really good hiking. It only seems good in the summer when it’s 100 degrees down in the city below. On the trail we saw a family from Houston. We stopped on a broad rock above a trickling stream, which was partially covered in ice. Up and walking again, another 100 steps and we were quite surprised to find ourselves at Marshall Gulch, where I’ve been many times. Didn’t recognize it “from the other side”. Got back to car around 3 PM, and had the feeling that we should do another hike, or drive up to Summerhaven, or something. But it’s all burned and desolate, which really does reduce the appeal. We headed back down the mountain, listening to NPR the whole way. NPR has become a good companion on this trip – stimulates the brain a bit, especially the daytime programming which doesn’t seem as lefty as the prime time news. Drove across town to Gate’s Pass and did a short hike up to Yetman saddle. Sabkha could barely walk due to tenderpaw, and she didn’t seem too keen on even getting out of the Subaru. But we did it, and again it felt small and short and not as pretty as I remember it. The view to the south along the backside of the Tucson Mts was really beautiful, as was the evening light which gave everything a somber feeling. I forgot how nighty it feels at 4 PM in the winter in AZ or NM. If you’re in a canyon, 3:30 feels like near twilight. Back to Erik and Sara’s the back way, over Picture Rocks Road. I want to live here, I keep thinking.
Left not as early, maybe 8 am from the Fleshes. Detoured to Frank’s – a loooong detour – and had bfast and made some notes. Unplanned phone call to potential employer. Then reverted to original plan and headed up 79 to near Apache Junction, and out to Peralta Trailhead. It was later than I had planned to start – maybe around 1:30. Off we went up Peralta trail, which was steep and a bit rocky, def a bit challenging. Saw several other parties. Approached saddle at ~2.2 miles, at top of saddle was startled by a sudden, amazing view of Weaver’s Needle! Almost breath-taking moment. See photos – neat rock jointing and weathering pattern. Back down and scampered off through Apache Junction to 88 up toward the lakes. Set up camp at Tortilla Flat CG – just in time, since you need to buy a permit at the shop across the street and it closes at 6. Then headed back toward town to pick up a cell signal since I was expecting a call from B.M., who lives in PHX and whose mom was visiting. There was no message and since I was halfway back to Apache Junction, I kept going and got Taco Bell and firewood at Fry’s. Back at camp had a smoky fire and read part of The Time Machine.
Up fairly early, tossed camp in car. Hemmed on which way to go, decided to go back to AJ. A hike left from the marina nearby that I’ve done before with Erin Gleeson. Back to AJ and toward Globe. Really pretty. Stopped at a mexi-café in Superior with all the cop cars out from – it was excellent. Chorizo, eggs, hash browns… even Kirkland Signature green tea. Up the road to Globe-Miami: absolutely beautiful. Rocky canyons, volcanic rocks but granite too. Windy road – would be super-fun with the Mazda. Would be super-fun period. So many trails, canyons, lakes… in Globe we parked at the bottom of Broad St, the main historic drag, and walked the street. It needs some sprucing up, to say the least. It could use more. Then we drove around Globe looking for the good neighborhood but failing to find any. Stopped at Chamber of Commerce and got a huge helping of literature and info that there is no good neighborhoods. Managed to insult the lady there at the same time, I think. Poor planning creeped in here – drove back out toward Miami, overshot turn-off for the Haunted Canyon hike I wanted to do, pushed on to Oak Flat Campground, set up camp, drove back and found HC road through BHP mine dumps. Once past the dumps a really neat, very remote-feeling area. Saw no one on the mine roads or forest roads. It was getting late-in-the-day spooky. Found trailhead and started off with low expectations. The trail was awesome. Vegatated and close down low, it opened up the higher we got into a delightful grassy saddle. Views into the next canyon – no roads, no nothing. Felt very remote. Footprints but no other signs of anyone else. Got a couple of mt lion scares on the trail – but nothing real that I actually saw. Poor planning again, we drove out back to Globe area to hit the Safeway for some food and beer, then back to Oak Flat. Note: big Safeway cheese bagel and a fifth-pound of sliced turkey make an excellent post-hike meal. Yum. The big bottle of Guinness was good too but the sandwich really took it. Had a nice hot campfire with wood collected in Haunted Canyon. Read more of The Time Machine and slept pretty good, although it was gusty windy.
Up and out of camp, into Globe. Took 77 N instead of 80 toward TR Lake as planned. Whoops. But 77 toward Show Low is really, really lovely and beautiful terrain. Wow. Wow. Maybe my favorite place in the world. Turned around a little shy of Salt River Canyon, back to Globe then on toward Tucson on 77 S via Winkelman and Oracle. I never remember this route being so beautiful, with the rock and cacti and the mines and ramshackle homesteads. I continue to fall in love with Arizona. Daydreaming about [a job] in [an AZ town] the entire way back, building up my future potential life in my mind. Tucson around 11 AM, to the Flesches. They were around, prepping for the Tgiving dinner. I ran to store to get wine and cider. People began to show up close to 6 PM. The main crowd was Erik, Sara, Sebastian, and Jen, his GF. Me and the dogs. Later, Jennifer (new entymology PhD) and Mary T showed up. Good times were had by all. Food was good. After much food and drinking Erik started a fire outside. We stood around talking and dodging smoke for many hours. Eventually Seb and Jen left and then other Jen left, around 2 am. Erik and I stayed out there until 3:30 am.
Slept in a bit, got up and cleaned up a bit around the Flesch palace and did some dishes. Around noon Erik and I set off for a hill/mountain near his house – Deception Mountain. It looked much closer and lower than it turned out to be. We set out cross-country – first in a wash and later across the hillside toward the peak. After several stops to rest and enjoy the views of Tucson we made it to the base of the cliffs that led to the top of the mountain. We poked around and found a scramble route that brought us nearly to the top. There was no going further without some serious fall exposure, so we called it good enough. After enjoying the peak a bit we headed down the trail that skirted the base of the cliffs. This trail eventually deposited us at an interesting little open-to-the-public chapel complex near the end of Scenic Drive. As the sun set we hiked back “home” through the desert.
Said our goodbyes and rolled from Erik and Sara’s around 9 am. Headed down to the U of A campus and walked all around. A beautiful place, lots of neat plants and pretty buildings. The desert-ness of the place makes it very unlike Houston, even when you’re in the city. Got coffee for the Fabs at the Chocolate Iguana and went to visit Dr. O at his rented house on the west side of town. Had a lunch of leftovers and chatted for a couple hours. Seriously considered staying another night. The early afternoon weather was wonderful, breezy and in the mid 70s, absolutely perfect. Finally I reluctantly got in the car and onto I-10, heading east. It seemed like it would never get dark but I new dusk was only a few hours away. I decided to skip to Chirichuas and head straight for Kilbourne Hole. Cut off I-10 to drive NM 9 through the beautiful, empty quarter of extreme southern NM. Came across a little state park (Pancho Villa) in Columbus, NM, which isn’t even a town, really. It rained most of the night. Next morning was remarkable as the rain let up but the clouds hung low draped across the plains and the isolated mountains. Some mountains surprising big, and make to look bigger as they were enshrouded in cloud. Lovely territory, at least right after a rainstorm.
Found Kilbourne Hole but couldn’t find the xenolith locality. Poor planning! Walked around a bit with Sabkha and tried a few places, but got anxious to leave and finally set off almost empty-handed. Back via El Paso… a long drive, arrived home at 11:30 PM. Felt good to be back in Houston.