The Bucks Have It

While I love when we see any animals, the most coveted are the most unique and least often seen. Big animals, boys (bucks and bulls), and babies bring the most attention due to their illusiveness.

Aside from that, gestures and action, garner more interest, like this floppy eared buck.

I try to capture their personality and individualism in their environment to share.

These animals are here and gone, so it’s important to me to make their moment shine. I keep telling ’em, smile pretty for the camera – sometimes they actually listen.

Aztec Peak

Workman’s Creek in Gila County, resides in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. It is along a long dirt road 25 miles from Young to the North; or 30 miles from Globe to the South.

View from Workmans Creek Falls
Hawk hangs out on a tree limb over Workmans Creek

The two hundred foot falls drop down to the ground below cascading over rocks along the overgrown creek bed. With little rain this season, the falls are not running.

Truck crosses workmans creek bridge

We weren’t here to see the Falls… or Workman’s Creek. We came to check out Aztec Peak, which continues on the road past the falls (if the gate is open).

Smoke from fires in the area yielded an eery hazy sky with a red sun.

Aztec Peak is the highest point in the Sierra Ancha Wilderness. We were greeted by hazy skies from the smoke in the valley below. The 21,000 acre Salt Fire, the 5,000 acre Meddler Fire, the 9,000 Medicine Fire and the 62,000 acres Griffin Fire, all contributing their fair share of smoke. At night we could see the glow of the fires burning, the closest only 5 miles away from us.

The views from the Peak were terrific, though mired by the smoke and haze. It is definitely worthy of another trip, despite the long drive.

Hopi Chipmunk

During our last visit to Carnero Lake (kritterspaw.com/2020/08/16/carnero-lake/), we encountered some playful chipmunks.

I watched them for hours as they got used to me being there, as I inched closer and closer to them.

Once they got comfortable with me being there, I watched them run around and play, chase each other around the rocks and through the forest.

It’s amazing what you can get if you sit still long enough and exercise a little patience.

I think there’s a lesson there.

Carneros Sunrise

Rolling hills and greeining up grass define the terrain of Greens Peak.

Just outside of Green’s Peak in a beautiful peaceful little lake called Carneros Lake. While it’s difficult to fish from the shore due to its shallow depths and many reeds, it is popular to launch a canoe and fish from its waters.

Reflections of sunrise at Carneros Lake
Reeds line the edge of Carneros Lake under stormy skies.

But we go for the peaceful allure, the sunset / sunrise from the water’s edge, and the numerous waterfowl that frequent its water.

Osprey catches breakfast
Osprey primps himself during a rest at Carneros Lake

We loved watching the osprey fish… diving from the sky, crashing into the water and pulling up fish. I should have brought my big lens, but got a couple shots I had to crop. I’ll have to go back with the big lens next time.

Chipmunk sits on a rock at Carneros Lake
Little chipmunk grazes in the wet ground at Carneros Lake.

When I wasn’t enjoying the osprey, coots, or blue heron I was entertained by the little chipmunks gathering pinecones.

Trees surround Carernos Lake at sunrise.

Carneros Lake is beautiful respite and peaceful environment with free entertainment to boot. I can’t wait to go back.

Reflections of sunrise at Carneros Lake

Babe in the Woods

The babies are back!

Our elk baby sightings have been fleeting since the Tinder Fire hit us two years ago now…. that is, until now.

I was so excited to see a herd of elk momma’s with babies in tow. Seeing their tired and beat up bodies, I wondered that their absence wasn’t so much the fire, as predators. One elk baby had a gash across her back that was bigger than she was. It’s amazing she survived whatever attacked her.

Watching their interactions and cute newness, was a real joy.

I hope they’ll be back, and bring their babies with. I can never get enough of these precious animals… they just make my heart feel good.

San Francisco Peaks

SFP Roks Hort

I would consider myself a scattered photographer… some people would call it spray and pray, ok, there i said it.  My photography teacher in high school called me prolific.

Let’s just say I take a lot of photos of mixed variety.
SFP Meadow
For me to take a single photo (omg, never), a solitary subject (why??), or a single place (ok, doable) is a foreign concept.  I like to wander around and take different perspectives to convey the ‘whole story’.
Snowcap
In an effort to stretch myself and my photography I decided to shoot the San Francisco Peaks.  I love the fleeting snow and new green trees in her belly.. a sign of spring taking hold and summer on her heels.
_40A4093-HDR_IR
I wanted to take photos from a different perspective so we traveled around to the north side of the peaks to get a southern view, and camped out for sunset and sunrise to capture her beauty.
We were lucky enough to get some nice skies, and I am happy to be able to show off another beautiful icon of Northern AZ.

North Timp

 

_40A3787-HDR-Pano-Edit_IR

North Timp is one of those many points jutting out over the backwoods of North Rim Grand Canyon.  One doesn’t have to go into the National Park itself to see some amazing viewpoints.  We had hoped to get to more of those great overlooks, but circumstances intervened and it wasn’t meant to be.  So it will have to be one of those ‘re-do’ experiences for another time.

_40A3915-HDR_IR

For now, I got a couple pix of North Timp…. and next time, I’ll try to collect a more complete catalog of amazing viewpoints OUTSIDE the Park.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Sheep’s Crossing

Sheeps Crossing Far_IR.jpg

Arizona is a treasure trove of history and interesting stories.  If only the landscape could speak.  In this case… it does.  Sheep’s Crossing is one of those special historic places that few know about.

Sheeps Daisies_IR.jpg

It’s just north of Phoenix outside of Bloody Basin, down a long 3-hour rough dirt road.  There are multiple ways to get there, and all long and arduous.   At the end of the road though, one is rewarded with this historic moment of time.

Deadman Pano_IR.jpg

The Flagstaff Sheep Company used to graze sheep in this area around Verde River under a permit from the Forest Service as far back as 1926.  As sheep herders would move sheep during summer and winter months, they would invariably lose sheep down the swift river.

Bridge Sky Hort_IR.jpg

During WWII, in 1943, they built a bridge across the Verde.  The bridge is 3′ wide and spans nearly 500′.  Using salvaged materials and erected with hand tools and a few mule, it is one of the last remaining suspension bridges in AZ.

Susnrise Suspension_IR.jpg

Sunrise Xing_IR.jpg

It was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and was used from 1944 through 1979.  Some 11,000 sheep would be moved across this bridge twice a year.

Cacti Overlook_IR.jpg

In 1988 the bridge was disassembled due to years of use, floods, and weathered over time.  It was re-built in 1989 as a testament to the pioneering sheepmen and ranching that existed in old Arizona.

Orig Concrete _IR.jpg

Fossil Creek

You may have seen my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2019/11/08/fossil-creek-nd/ regarding Fossil Creek.  I was pleased with the photos I got during that visit, so we decided to make the trek to do it again.

_40A1966-Edit-Edit_IR.jpg

After the long drive along the bumpy dirt road to get to the creek, there are several ‘entry’ points for one to ramble down the hill to walk along the creek.  We have been a number of times over the years, and enjoy the serenity of the water gushing over the rocks.

_40A1900-Edit_IR.jpg

It makes a wonderful place for a picnic to relax and let your troubles wash away.    (I know, I know, if only it were that simple.)  It does though provide a peaceful respite from our hectic lives.

_40A1992-Edit_IR.jpg

We did notice that Fossil Creek has become very overgrown and ‘scrubby’.  In taking photographs, I had a hard time cutting the clutter out of my pix.  You may notice that all these photos are tight knit to the horizon with no sky.  That’s because the horizon above the water was tangled and busy.

_40A1828-Edit_IR.jpg

Sometimes you just have to cut the clutter from our vantage point.

_40A1948_IR.jpg

My Best Landscape Photos of 2019

Every year, I like to take pause to reflect on my year past, both in terms of what we have done, where we have gone, and what we have accomplished – but also in terms of my best shots.  Reflecting on what I have done, helps me to see where I came from, to help me consider where I want to go.  I will keep these to Top 10 to force me to choose those I most liked.  Feel free to weigh in…

So without further ado, in no particular order:

  1.  Runoff outside of Workman’s Creek, AZ_40A9287_IR.jpg

2.  Mogollon Rim, through the fog_MG_0013_IR.jpg

3. Milk Ranch Road, Sunburst_40A1550_IR.jpg

4.  Blue Ridge Reservoir sunriseWaters Edge Hort_IR.jpg

5. Hawley Lake sunrise_40A4341_IR-2.jpg

6. Smoke Burst, Mogollon RimTreeBurst Vert_IR.jpg

7.  Blue Ridge Reservoir, FallBlue Ridge Fall Sun_IR.jpg

8.   West Fork Trail, SedonaRedRoot_IR.jpg

9.  Fossil Creek, Fall falls_40A0077_IR.jpg

10.  Fossil creek_40A0044-HDR_IR.jpg

That’s it.  I’m comforted knowing that I left out some additional good shots to pare it down to these 10.  Life’s about choices, and these are mine, and I’m sticking to it.

Check out my best wildlife photos of the year here….https://kritterspaw.com/2020/01/09/my-best-wildlife-photos-of-2019/