We Got Snow

Storm brewing on the horizon over Moqui Draw
Snow coats trees over Moqui Draw

After a long dry monsoon season and cold barren winter our forecast seemed bleak. We were desperate for some precipitation and moisture for our thirsty forest. The weather guys swore we were really in for it… Monday, no Tuesday, wait maybe Thursday, or Friday. Nothing. For sure Saturday. It seemed everyone else started getting it, but we were passed by. Flagstaff was getting pounded we heard. Hmmm. We got maybe 4″, and were waiting for this monster storm.

Snow clings to trees in the forest outside of Flagstaff after January snowstorm.
Elk grazes in Northern AZ

Finally, Monday the storm hit. Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, we finally got some much needed snow. It came and came, yay! We figure we got around 24″ all together. It’s hard to say exactly, as the winds were blowing so hard, drifts were high, and actual measures were difficult to estimate.

Snow collects in depression outside of Flagstaff, AZ
Elk roots around into fresh fallen snow

No matter. We are happy to have it. I guess good things come to those who wait.

Snowy road outside of Mogollon Rim.
Snow coats the trees after a Northern AZ winter storm.
Snow falls over previous burn area.

Best of 2020 – Animals

I like to review my year’s photos to consolidate the best of the year.

I posted my Best of 2020 – Landscape photos here… https://kritterspaw.com/2021/01/12/best-of-2020-landscape/. Now it’s time to review my animal pix. It was a good year for animals, as we saw a lot of different types.

Big Horn Sheep

We were lucky enough to see this beautiful herd of big horn sheep as we left Alstrom Point. We saw the herd in the distance, so drove ahead of them, and I walked out behind a rock to see if I could sneak up on them. I’m not sure who was more surprised when we saw each other as I crotched down from behind a ridge – me or them. It was a fantastic moment.

Coyote

Admittedly, I am not a big fan of coyote. They are scavengers and corral & hunt my precious deer and elk. So I’m just as happy not to see any. But I did this year, and got a decent photo that makes the cut.

Kit Fox

We don’t see many fox, so I was thrilled when we saw this pup this year. So cool!

Deer Fawn

All babies are cute, especially the 4 legged animal variety!

Javelina

Speaking of babies… it was super cute to get so see this affectionate family of javelina with new born babe.

Elk baby

And elk baby, or calf.

Elk bull

The next best thing to new animals (at least for us), or baby animals, are those big boys… elk bulls

Deer Buck

and bucks…

The cuter and better expression, the better!

Chipmunk

I got a ton of chipmunk pix this year, they were just too darn cute.

Deer Doe and fawn

And finally, pretty much any animal in the snow. Just wish we had more of it!

Alstrom Point

We have had more trips cancelled this year than we have gone on. Such is the year 2020.

We had put off our trip to Alstrom Point, overlooking Lake Powell, due to weather. Not bad weather, but too much blue sky! With little rain or clouds on the horizon, a beautiful typical AZ blue sky can be less than photogenic.

So when forecasts for clouds came out, we packed up and headed out. Unfortunately, there were none. While we were there, the weather forecast called for clouds the next day (when previously it had called for Clear and Sunny). So we stayed another day. All we got was more blue sky. So we headed for home.

On the way home though, we were gifted with a great little surprise: big horn sheep.

I anticipated where they were headed and stalked into them. Fantastic.

By the time we got home, we were greeted with 2″ of snow. Go figure! (Check out snow pix here … https://kritterspaw.com/2020/12/12/blizzard/)

Sometimes magic happens when you least expect it. Stay the course. Stay positive, and keep on doing what you enjoy.

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.
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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.