Tucson to Greens Peak in 45 degrees

We got a tip that we might be able to find coatimundi at Cluff Ranch in Pima, AZ, a locale they had been seen many times before. Having never seen a coatimundi, we were anxious to follow up on the lead and hopeful to get a great shot.

We stopped at Tucson Mountain Park along the way. It was sunny blue sky the entire time, but we weren’t there for sunsets, we were there for the animals.

At Tucson Mountain Park we were delighted and entertained as we watched these little ground squirrel brave the ocotillo thorns just for a taste of it’s ‘candy corn’ fruit.

When we got to Cluff Ranch in Pima, AZ, we hiked in to the spot we thought we might see coatimundi, parked ourselves and hid for several hours, waiting in silence hoping for an encounter. Unfortunately, not all animal outings are productive. They work to their own schedule and don’t tend to appear on command.

The heat was intense at 97F, particularly for us mountain dwellers, so we made our way back through Hannigan’s meadow toward Greens Peak in hopes of catching some osprey fishing.

We were rewarded with a 53F day, nearly 45 degrees from the previous day in Southern AZ, and fortunate to see some osprey, yet unable to catch that illusive shot of them fishing… but I’ll keep trying.

Best Laid Plans

We planned well in advance for our trip to Toroweap Overlook, part of the North Rim Grand Canyon.

Toroweap (Tu-weep to the Paiute Indian) refers to ‘the earth’, and translates appropriately to ‘dry & barren’. It’s hard to imagine this long rough rocky 61-mile dirt road through sagebrush and salt bush can open up to something so enormous, vast, and beautiful.

As the Colorado River winds through the bottom of the canyon, the steep walls stretch out to the sky with abundant rock formations.

We got the camping permits 6 months in advance, as required, estimating that the end of March would be less crowded and have best potential for rainy weather and clouds, and not be too hot.

Truth be known, we hit the mark. We hoped for clouds and clouds we got. In fact, we got so many clouds that over the course of 3 nights and 3 days (that’s 6 sunset / sunrise shoots), we only saw the sun once.

Outside of that one time, the sun was behind a dense cloud bank and never made an appearance. And unfortunately, it never even lit up the sky.

While I was disappointed, it was a gorgeous spot to watch the sun rise over coffee, and end the evening watching it set (hoping the light would come).

Alamo Lake

It was my first time at Alamo Lake. I wasn’t sure what to expect. There isn’t much there but a campground and a lake. We brought the boat and figured we’d get some fish and some photographs.

While we didn’t get any fish, we got more than we bargained for when we saw a number of interesting, and unexpected wildlife.

We saw wild burro’s, very likely decedents of the Spaniards in the 1600’s or AZ miners, wandering the hills and coming down for water.

We saw grebes and blue heron…

.. and were surprised to find white, and brown, pelican.

As it turns out we got more than we expected, and were delightfully surprised.

Roosevelt Lake

Roosevelt Lake is one of several lakes around Arizona.

Years ago we used to enjoy it from the vantage point of the water’s edge, in a boat.

Now that we we are retired, we are more apt to enjoy the water from a vantage point high up from the lake so that we can capture photos of her allure from afar.

The Roosevelt bridge can be seen from the distance through smoke and haze. Either way, the water always attracts us and brings us back for more.

Whitewater Draw Workshop

Sandhill crane fly across the morning sky in the distance.

Have you heard of Whitewater Draw? Whitewater Draw is a swampy marsh area in McNeal, in southern AZ, east of Bisbee and north of Douglas (pretty much the border of AZ / Mexico).

Because of the food sources (namely corn fields) and marsh ponds, the sandhill crane flock to Whitewater Draw in droves in the winter months, Oct – March.

They sleep in the ponds to protect themselves from predators. Every morning they lift-off and go to graze in nearby fields.

In the afternoon some come back (between 10 am – noon) to rest and socialize in the ponds.

Just before sunset there is a mass fly in when the cranes come back for the night.

It is a sight to see! The noise of the cranes is deafening. The shear quantity of birds is impressive to say the least.

We participated in a Photo Workshop put on by Arizona Game & Fish (AZGFD). We watched the cranes take off from a distance crossing the moon in their path.

George Andrejko, AZGFD’s professional photographer for more than 20 years, walked around with us through the walking paths, pointing out different birds, and ducks along the way. Where else can you get a one on one with such a gifted and renown Arizona photographer? It was a special experience, one I would do again in a heartbeat.

The mere $25 fee to participate goes to a good cause so that the AZGFD can continue to care for the site and put on more such events.

We not only learned about the site, but were able to speak with talented and knowledgable AZGFD personnel. We met new and interesting like-minded people, enjoyed the outdoors, and had a ‘show’ throughout the day.

See more bird pix here ….https://kritterspaw.com/2022/02/06/birds-a-feather/ and https://kritterspix.com/2022/02/06/birds-in-flight-bif-photography/

Tree Saddle

The Mogollon Rim is probably one of our favorite places. It is not far from where we live, and offers exceptional views and a myriad of roads to explore.

One of our favorite vantage points we have dubbed, ‘Tree Saddle’. It was never more spectacular than after a heavy dousing of frigid rain. We stuck it out and were rewarded with amazing skies.

Funny, I feel I must caveat some of these photos… yes the sky was that red and magical, it was not ‘photoshopped’. I was giddy with joy for this tremendous sky as it rolled in and turned bright red. As a boater, I was reminded of the old adage, ‘Red skies at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning.’

While the views along the rim itself are stunning, the forest roads along the rim are equally beautiful.

When the fog rolled in the following morning, we wandered the forest roads capturing eerie fog pix.

I was completely soaked and freezing as clouds went from great photos to completely enveloping me as I got doused trying to get one more pic. While weather can be cold and uncomfortable, it does make more intriguing photos. It was absolutely worth it, and euphoric to be in the presence of such amazing views.

Rainbow Trail

Rainbow Trail is a great hiking / biking trail outside of the National Park Boundaries with great overlooks and dispersed camping.

There are 5 overlooks as part of the Rainbow Trail: Timp, North Timp, Locust, Fence, and Parissawampitts (say that 3x fast).

There are also 2 nice overlooks just inside of the National Park Boundary: Point Sublime and Swamp Point. Both have nice views and limited dispersed camping.

They are a bit of a drive to get to. But as they say, anything worth doing is worth doing well, and sometimes that means a drive.

See more pix here …https://kritterspaw.com/2021/09/26/north-rim-grand-canyon/

Mogollon Sunrise

Mogolllon Rim is littered with amazing views. One can pull over just about anywhere and be awestruck by the spectacular scenery.

It’s a special place for us, and we enjoy sharing it with friends.

Sunset / Sunrise are often difficult, as the Rim has a southern exposure. Unless one gets a spectacular sunset or sunrise that wraps around the sky, the color is either to the West or East. If you’re lucky, the clouds are with you, and great views follow.

North Timp

 

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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