Saturday, November 30, 2013


The Alamo Canyon Trail begins at the other campground here at Organ Pipe, so we had to drive to the trailhead.  The trail is an easy (though rocky under the feet) 2-mile round trip to an abandoned brick structure, a corral/cattle chute/stone well, and mortar grinding stones. We were pleasantly surprised to see a creek, flowers, butterflies, and interesting insects. It was cloudy here today, so the photos are somewhat understated, but I'll let them tell the story of our hike:
Clouds and cactus as we headed out
Brick building, abandoned in the 1970's
The old corral

Cattle chute and fence
Old wood, rusty hardware, distant mountains

We ate lunch sitting on a big boulder by this stream
The little waterfall near where we ate
A yellow butterfly
Some red flowers blooming along the creek
The one on the right looks like a laughing bird!

I guess I like taking photos of red flowers!
They do have the bugs down here!
Hiking downstream
Some flowers
This yellow flowering shrub attracted an interesting green bee, and a somewhat tattered (chunk out of its wing, missing most of one antenna) butterfly. He posed very nicely, though, and is here immortalized.

The butterfly and the bee, together

Friday, November 29, 2013


Yesterday we hiked the Estes Canyon - Bull Pasture Trail. This trail is the most strenuous maintained trail in the Monument, but the views are amazing! The Trailhead is along the Ajo Mountain Scenic Loop Drive. The trail is actually two trails that form a loop, plus a spur trail that takes you out to Bull Pasture. From the trailhead we soon reached the fork, and we took the Pasture trail (to the right). Mountain ridge after mountain ridge is revealed as you climb up, up, up, and then reach a point where you can look down into Estes Canyon. Then you go up some more and reach the fork which either leads you down into the canyon, or ascends up over another ridge to Bull Pasture. We took the spur (which means you just go out and back - it doesn't loop) trail, and just as I was saying "this doesn't seem that strenuous" the trail got steeper, the cliffs sheerer, and the rock steps more difficult to navigate. But the views also got more dramatic, and when we finally reached Bull Pasture, we stopped for quite a while to take it all in. We also saw (through binoculars) a pool of water above the canyon that created a small, but audible, waterfall between huge rocks in the mountainside!
Going up towards Bull Pasture
Still going up
View from the crest of the trail, looking back towards the trail
As we came back down, Darell took this photo of me on the trail, and I include it so one might get a sense of the scale of these rocks and peaks:
That's me, just to the left of those green shrubs in the center of the photo
When we returned to the loop part of the trail, we took the Estes Canyon leg, which led us down into the canyon floor, along a wash, and through the riparian habitat that hosts the most life in this desert area. This is the trail that birders treasure, and the twittering and calling of several different birds accompanied us along the way. The cacti and trees grow bigger through this part, as this is where the water rushes most heavily during the rainy season. By this time, it was late afternoon, and the shadows brought a sense of peacefulness and calm to the landscape. A cactus arm grows across the trail making an arch to walk beneath.
A cactus arm arch
Oh No! Your trail experience is almost over!
The last part of the trail crosses the wash, and we saw a rabbit crouched in the undergrowth at the edge of the wash - we watched him, he watched us for a spell, and then we all moved on. He, toward the safety of denser underbrush, we, towards the Chinook, and ultimately to a dinner where we were thankful for (among many, many other things) such a glorious day enjoying the beauty of the Sonoran desert!

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving to my friends and family that celebrate it! Here's a photo of our "Horn O'Plenty"! We also enjoyed mashed potatoes, made from the finest flakes.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Well, I've finally, almost completely, overcome my reluctance to wear my pajamas whilst wandering around in public places (campgrounds.). So if you're in a campground and see a woman wearing yellow flannel pajamas with pictures of rodeo cowboys on them, and hiking boots, give a wave and a "Howdy, Pardner" and I'll just smile and wave back, without blushing or wanting to hide in the shrubberies. Today I am an RVer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


A wonderful thing about this National Monument is that you don't have to stay on trails - you can hike cross country, scale the surrounding mountains or wander through desert washes as your heart desires. Snakes, cholla cactus, and not enough water are your only concerns! Today we went up to the top of some ridges near the campground, and hiked on rarely used trails that led between mountains to more mountain ridges. Darell tends to go for the tops of mountains and the ensuing vistas; I tend to enjoy the minutiae (and photographing my new obsession: the Barrel Cactus). The 360 degree views from the mountaintops just can't be done justice in photos, but here are a few glimpses:
This is the view as we rose from the base of the ridge
Here's an Organ Pipe Cactus growing out of the rocks at the top of this ridge
A view from my perch on the huge rocks atop the ridge
This is from another mountain ridge top we ascended later
And now for some Cactus close ups that I took while Darell climbed up mountains:

An army of Barrel Cactus spines
Spines, close up
Colorful spines
Colorful spines, close up
Ocatillo (not really a cactus, just a shrub) spines
Red spines on the tips of an Organ Pipe Cactus

Monday, November 25, 2013


Campgrounds that use solar water heaters for showers only have hot water on sunny days. Lesson learned.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Today is a travel day: we've left Painted Rocks Petroglyphs site (I miss it already!) and are heading back down to Ajo/Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to do the hikes we missed the first time. On the way down, we encountered a group of four wild donkeys grazing by the roadside. And when we finally reached the campground, we were reminded why we like it here so much. Sunsets.
This view is from the rear of our campsite
Gratuitous "Chinook with Sunset" photo
A new feature: Impressionistic "Screen" Shot, taken through the back screen door of the Chinook

Saturday, November 23, 2013


It stopped raining last night, and the monochrome grey skies, grey ground, and running water of yesterday have disappeared with little trace. Today the ground is soft and dry, and the green has come back into the shrubs. The skies are full of clouds from white puffballs to ominous black hulks. The forecast is for thunderstorms this afternoon, so we are pretty much hunkered down in the RV again, enjoying the view of the passing and gathering clouds.
Dark clouds congregating over the mountains

Clouds over the petroglyph mound

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Today we're just watching the clouds move in - a storm is brewing...

But yesterday we hiked about 6 miles along the beautiful Painted Rocks Mountains. We came upon an abandoned well and stockyard with a weathered cattle shute, explored down into washes where shrubs were flowering (and butterflies were feasting!), and lunched sitting on black volcanic rocks beneath some saguaros.
Abandoned stock yard fence and cattle shute

The shute from a different direction - each viewpoint here reveals a new and striking mountain range!

A weird plant growing at the edge of a wash
Close up of a spiky fruit - no idea what this is!
Here's where we ate lunch

The trail home