Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Trails with Dora - Dead Horse

We camped for two weeks at the most wonderful hiking place for dogs.  There are trails everywhere!  The name of the park is Dead Horse Ranch.  But don't worry: there were lots of horses there but they were all alive and healthy.  I know Mandy and other horse-lovers in our family would have loved it here too.  There are even rent-a-horse places if you don't bring your own.

Here's a map of the park,  Most of the time we stayed in the Red-Tailed Hawk Loop and the Cooper's Hawk Loop so we did our poop-walks on the Mesa Interpretive Trail.  There were some of the trails we never even got to so we will need to go back again.

This is what the Red-Tailed Hawk loop looks like from up on the Mesa.

And there are some horses that are going by on our trail. I guess they must be taking their poop walk too because . . .

Oh, deliciousness.  Mom kept telling me "No!" and tugging on my leash.  Now let me tell you, the horses in the corrals where we walked by were just fine. Actually they were worth ignoring. But then they get out of their corral and they kidnap people! And then the people who are on the horses backs talk to me and ask if I'm a corgi and that is really scary!

There were also many mountain bikes on the trails.  Someone needs to explain the little arrows about right of way to them.  We had to step off the trail for the bikes every time which was ok except for one thing.  Huxley has had too many cholla stickers in his paws lately and being a smart dog (in spite of being a boy) he now refuses to go off the trails.  He almost had his tail chopped off in the spokes of a bike as mom tried to pull him to safety.

One disappointment I had was that there was not a nature trail here which labeled what the flowers are.  That means that mom has had to look them up on the internet for us.

Dad made this beautiful picture with his good camera.  It turned out to be a red barberry.  Yes, it has yellow flowers but it says that it will make red berries later. It has leaves that look like holly.

We found this pretty flower along the trail over by the horse corrals.  Do you know what it turned out to be?  Locoweed!  Horses can't eat it or it will make them go crazy.  It's real name is Astragalus Allochrouse or Halfmoon Milkvetch.

So, uhh.  Now I'm wondering about that whole "Dead Horse" thing.

Wholeleaf Indian Paintbrush.  It's different from the Indian Paintbrush up north.

We saw this at Tucson Mountain as well as at Dead Horse.  I think that it is fluff grass?  It is gray-bluish in color.

Now here is something that you won't believe.  Mom and I saw one over by the locoweed and then we came back and dad had a picture of another one (though it's kind of blurry).

It's the size of a hummingbird and has a proboscis that goes down into flowers like the beak of a hummingbird. It has wings that beat really fast.  But it's a moth!

To be precise, it's a hummingbird hawk moth. Who knew?

One day Dad and Mom decided to take me on a hike on the Lime Kiln Trail.  It goes up a wash and then onto some limestone cliffs to where they used to burn the limestone (that's a kiln). The trail goes miles and miles and ends up at Red Rock State Park.  We didn't go that far but horses and bicycles do.

There weren't many flowers on this walk. 

This picture shows some of the layers of sandstone and limestone. 

This is a dry waterfall just before the site of the kiln.

It is rugged and dry country up on the cliffs.

View from the site of the kiln back toward Cottonwood.

Mom thought that we could make a loop that used the Thumper Trail to connect to the Raptor Hill trail and get back to the campground.  She didn't have a map that told her how many miles that was so we went back the same way.

A good choice, now that we look at the map.  We did the green part to the camera symbol.

It was a nice morning walk.  Mom was very proud of what a good hiker I was. The only time I barked is when some more kidnapped people went by on horses.

Happy Trails with Dora - Lost Dutchman Wrap Up

I have so much to tell you about our two weeks at the Horse place, but first there are still a few pictures to share from Lost Dutchman.  

I looked and looked but never did find that Dutchman yet.  We already have reservations for next year so I can try again.

I did find this though.  I thought it was a real coyote and I barked and barked at it and there were people on the trail who laughed at me.

I was just a little embarrassed when I sniffed its butt and it turned out to be a metal sundial. I see things that make me bark often and at times when the the other dogs don't pay any attention.  For example: people carrying things (like cameras) are scary!  After all, they might be dog-beaters!  Dad and Mom have been having a debate as to whether I see better than other dogs or if I need glasses.

Here is a nice picture of our house in the last yard we had at Lost Dutchman.   It was filled with beautiful yellow brittlebush flowers.  The humans might have been a little allergic to them.

And here is a beautiful picture from the trail with globemallow, brittlebush, and chuparosa all three.  Early March is a perfect time to see desert wildflowers.

Now here's an interesting plant for you.  This is the desert hackberry with green berries above and getting nice and ripe below.  I think if you eat them you might hack them up and that's how they got their name.  The most interesting part is that when we looked them up it says that they are from the same family as the goat head thistle, also called puncture vine.  It seems strange that a big berry bush and a ground creeper could be cousins.

And this is another strange plant that was new to us.  It is called broom-rape and it is a parasite plant.  It is purple with no green parts because it has no chlorophyll.  It's kind of like a desert mushroom.

This is a Harris Hawk that mom and dad saw on the trail.  It was standing sentry on a saguaro just like the Harris Hawks they saw at the raptor show last year in Tucson.

One of our last evenings at the park a fast-moving storm came through the area.  It rained and you could see it coming out of the clouds, but it never quite hit the ground.  That is called virga.

 I'll see you soon with some really Happy Trails!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Let's just go to that rock"

Each time we have been at Lost Dutchman Superstition Search and Rescue has had a chance to exercise their helicopter by retrieving hikers from the Siphon Draw/Flatiron Trail.  The evening of March 10th they made at least four trips up the mountain, bringing back several people each time.

The rescue staging area is in the park, giving us a front-row seat to the action.

To quote from their website:

Siphon Draw Trail: 1.6 miles one way. A very scenic hike, this trail winds up into Siphon Draw Canyon. It is possible to continue hiking to the Flatiron (2.5 miles one way), although it is not a designated, maintained trail all the way. It's advised that only experienced hikers in good shape attempt to hike to the top, as the climb is steep and difficult to follow. Allow at least five hours to the Flatiron and back.

Here's a map of the trail.   See all of those little lines close together?  That means steep.  

Below is a picture of the area.  The helicopter was flying back into the canyon between the rocks: that is "Siphon Draw".  Flatiron is the promontory you can see in the back behind the draw.

We figured that we could get at least a ways up the mountain for some exercise.  Tom chose a cone-shaped rock to be our goal (circled below).

The morning of the 12th dawned cooler and overcast: a good day for a hike. Traci, who has done a great deal of hiking lately, came over to join us.

Starting the ascent you can see the campground disappearing below.


The start of the wilderness area.  "Abandon hope ye who enter here."

 Not seen at the campground elevation: blister beetles on the brittlebush.

You can see that we are getting closer to "the rock".

Globemallow, also sometimes called "Desert Hollyhock"


Eventually, we even passed it.  It turned out that the trail did not go to the rock, but passed on the north side of it.

We kept going.

Incredible views of the valley.  Note the hiker in the picture above to help give a scale of size and distance.  The rock that was the original goal is the lowest, in the center of the picture.

Massive boulders.

A dry waterfall.

"The Basin" is 1.6 miles in and as far as the regular trail goes.  We went about 1.5 miles and made our stopping place with several other more sane hikers on comfortable boulders overlooking The Basin.  Flatiron is clearly visible in the center of the picture above.  That was close enough for me.

From there we had a view of (mostly) younger and more foolhardy souls tackling the rocks. 

We sat, visited, and enjoyed the view and the flowers.  Brittlebush and chuparosa intertwined all around us.

A beautiful morning.

That was the last hike for my Keen hiking boots though they were almost new. They lack the flexibility I desire for walking on rocks and on descents they were killing my toes.   They went on the Goodwill run we made yesterday (yes we are still getting rid of stuff).  This week I have been doing fine in my Nike walking shoes though I may try out some Merrill boots as Tom seems happy with his.  I love my Keen sandals, but their hiking boots are not a recommended buy as far as I am concerned.