The Pinaleno Mountains are in southeastern Arizona. The mountain reaches 10,720 feet (3,267 m) in height. We had been scouting the area for free range use for two years. Posts of those adventures will follow this in time.
The weather here is weird and difficult to predict this year. All week we had had to vacillate between three locations for our three day weekend. A nude body appreciates as nice a weather as can be had. It’s good to have alternative contingencies. The White Mountains would be warmer, but better chance of rain, The Verde River would certainly be warmer, but maybe too much so and the rain forecast was flip flopping. The original destination, the Penaleno Mountains promised cold weather, but no rains. This is June and the dry extreme heat still wasn’t yet happening (oh, but the next week, it did arrive, everyday over 109F!).
A pair of friends called and just happened to have a trip up in the Penalenos planned. They wondered if we would meet. The weather prediction on Thursday was showing us 60F’s and lows in the upper 30F’s, not good nude weather in the shade of a forest, but we went for it. The rest showed more rain and this place was at least clear.
Last week, DF suggested a camping trip as she had a Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off. I jumped on it. We decided on a place very special to me in the world, that I had never shared with her, and hadn’t visited for a few years. It is a relatively thin canyon with steep rock slopes and cliff walls. The walls are peppered with caves. It’s as though giant woodpeckers have visited. Many of these were whittled out, then used for homes and protection in a prehistoric time in Arizona. I have climbed up toward a few that looked unapproachable, only to find hidden passages to them. A rope or ladder was probably used to climb up and into some of these the rest of the way. The valley floor is a forest of multiple trees which is a stop off for over two hundred bird species during the year. I have stopped, closed my eyes and just listened at times hearing 6 or 7 different distinct bird calls in a short minute’s time. The walk has many trail areas lined with ferns and grasses and unusual plants and flowers. Through it a crystal clear stream meanders. This dry time of year it would disappear at places leaving just rocks, and then reappearing once again later. The rock cliffs are beautiful pink, yellow, orange, red generally highlighted by multitudes of other colors and the greens of lichen. They drop refuse down into the canyon floor, giving amazing color to the pebbles under the crystalline waters.
Middle May 2009
I picked up Df at the airport Monday night. She told me that she had Tuesday off, too. At the crack of dawn, we decided to drag out of bed and go see the Ironwoods. The Ironwoods have come in bloom in the last week and this week has got to be the time to see them at their best. Ironwoods are about the size of the mesquite and palo verde trees. The palo verde are masses of bright yellow blooms. An ironwood blooms in a mass like that, only the colors are generally lavender. They range from white to deep purple. They are even more impressive than Washington D.C. cherry blossoms. The trees are generally 2-400 years old. It is awe inspiring to behold a 6 to 800 year old tree that has survived. They aren’t particularly massive and are often bulldozed in mass by illegal cavalier developers. There are only two intact Ironwood ecosystems left on the planet.
They sometimes go by the name ‘Ol Smokey because of the gray bark. Looking down on the “forest’ of them in bloom today, I saw that they do look like smoke amongst the other greens. They have dark green foliage during most of the year. Continue reading