We’ll cover the end of December and all of January in this blog post.
We rode at the Tortilla Preserve several times, but we only stopped for photos twice. Here’s another shot of Wendy riding by “Strongarm” in late December.
And one of her riding down one of the washes in late January.
On to our hiking. December 13 was one of our last really warm day of the year, so we hiked the “Wild Mustang” trail in the Tortilla Mountains.
Doug did really well with his not yet six-month knee replacement.
The next week, we showed our friends from Cranbrook one of our favourite loops in Saguaro National Park. We hiked up the Hugh Norris trail, to Sendero Esperanza to Dobe Wash and back to the trailhead following the Bajada trail.
We hiked again in Sabino Canyon, and this time took the short side trip to see this amazing crested saguaro.
Another blue sky day in the mountains.
Here’s a photo of Doug walking up Prophecy Wash, a hike very near our place in Saguaro National Park. Panther Peak is the prominent mountain in the background.
This jumbled ironwood snag was in the middle of the wash.
We hiked out of the wash and over a small ridge so we could join the Picture Rocks Wash to make a loop.
Another day, we hiked up King Canyon in Saguaro National Park. There are some interesting petroglyphs just below the trail convergence.
The same day, we hiked over to the Gould Mine trail to make a loop. Here’s the view over to the Avra Valley and the mountains beyond. In the foreground is an ocotillo in full bud. Ocotillos will leaf out within a few days of a soaking rain.
And here’s a view looking up the trail. The old mine tailings are visible in the background. There were several mines in the area that became Saguaro National Park, and many of the trails follow the old mine roads. The land was declared a national monument in 1933 and became a national park in 1994.
We continued our theme of nearby hikes, with a climb of Panther Peak. We set off on foot from our place. Within fifteen minutes, we were walking below our favourite saguaro grove. Panther Peak is in the background.
Well, maybe this is the favourite saguaro of the hike… So many nice ones! The grass had grown really well over the summer monsoon season and made the way up our normal route more difficult because we couldn’t see the markers or any remnant of a trail.
Here’s Wendy with only a few more steps needed to reach the main ridge. If you had binoculars, you could see our trailer from this point.
We chose to go down the official trail, after meeting a hiking group at the top that had used it to climb up. Canyon wrens’ calls echoed on the steep sides.
Here’s Doug, with a view of the gully that we descended. It was much easier than the rocky route we used to ascend and it made for a nice loop. The trail ended up in a wash that we had explored in previous years, so it wasn’t hard to find our way home.
The next week, we climbed the mountain right beside Panther, one the locals call “El Sombrero.” Its official name is Safford. We found the rocky gully on the approach to be rougher than last year, which we attribute to the heavy summer rains.
The top of the mountain has a few moves that require hands, so we stashed our poles for the final ascent. The town of Marana is in the background.
Here are some animals that we’ve seen this month. (The birds will be in a blog post of their own.) This bobcat lives in the Sweetwater Wetlands where we go birding frequently. It is very comfortable around people. This time, it walked right by us.
Another day, these bobcat kittens lounged in the sun. There was water separating them from the path, so they seemed very relaxed.
This Mexican wolf was active at the Desert Museum. All of the animals have come to the museum as rescues.
It’s always interesting to see flowers blooming in January. This one was at the Desert Museum, and is in the honeysuckle family.
This sunflower is one of the first to bloom on the huge bush in the pollinator garden at the Desert Museum.
Now to our “At Home” shots. On pleasant days we have our happy hour in front of our propane fire with the eastern view of Panther and Sombrero. This night the sky was the feature,
Another day we were earlier, and this was our view of the mountains.
So we’ll end with our sunrise and sunset pictures – one of each.
The next blog post will have photos of places we’ve birded and of course, lots of photos of birds.