Archive for August, 2010


Friday, August 27th, 2010

It was raining this morning, and that was a real treat. I even got to use my windshield wipers!

As these monsoon storms roll into town, animals break their nocturnal cycle, insects and mosquitoes start to emerge, and washes begin to flood. Here in the desert, flash flooding and cloud to ground lightning are common occurrences during our intense summer storms. There are a couple things you can do to stay safe during the monsoon season.

  • Watch the weather, and keep an eye on the sky.  These monsoon storms build quickly, and often with little warning.  Always better to see it coming then being caught by surprise.
  • If it’s raining, or looks like it may be raining somewhere in the distance, stay out of washes or dry riverbeds.  As water sheds off of hills and collects in canyons and riverbeds, it will move down hill at rather fast speeds.  There sometimes can be a literal wall of water that contains debris such as stones and vegetation which can cause serious damage.  It doesn’t need to be raining on you, often times it’s when a localized thunder storm up hill from you that will cause a wash to fill. 
  • Lightning is probably the most dangerous element to you.  Our summer monsoons are often very busy with electrical activity.  I’m sure you have seen what happens when a tree or cactus is struck by lightning, and we wouldn’t want that to happening to us.  If you hear thunder, than you are at risk of lightning strikes and it doesn’t even need to be raining.  If you are caught in a storm, try and seek shelter in a low laying place.  Avoid tall objects such as buildings, trees, and Saguaro’s.  If you have any metal objects on you like a water bottle, watch, or jewelry, you should remove those items and store them somewhere away from where you’ll be seeking shelter as the metal can conduct electricity. 

The monsoon season is a wonderful time of the year, with vegitation and animals both taking a much needed drink in this very dry desert.  It is a great time to get out and expierience the natural world, just be wise and carful when it comes to our storms.  Happy trails.

A Beautiful Day

Thursday, August 26th, 2010


 So, it has finally cooled off, at least it did yesterday.  And might I mention:  Yahooooooooo

 So Scott has been e-mailing me for a while that he and an associate are to be in Tucson for some work and they wanted to go out for a mountain bike ride.  His friend is a beginner rider and he is a strong intermediate rider.  Cool, we can deal with that.  But damn, I always forget that is going to be over 100 degrees.  So we talk and he suggest that they have work during the day and maybe we can go out at like, say 3PM.  That just may work.  They are staying at one of the resorts on the outskirts of town and we can go into the mountains a bit where it will be a bit cooler.  Sounds like a plan.  Stop by to pick them up and as it turns out it is the coolest day for the last three months and htere is actiually some wind.  Perfect.  


John, in front, that being me and Kanchan

 Scott takes off, because he can.  Leaves Kanchan to take up the end.  That’s cool.  He comes back shortly with a story and a picture of a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. 

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

  It, like I might have mentioned, was as awesome day, and green, green, green. 


We b riden mountain bikes 

Scott on The AZ TRail


I don’t understand. How did this happen? He says he didn’t even fall.


 HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM, and why are you smiling?  There are sick people in this world.  I kinda like them sick people.  Maybe because I relate.
John Heiman
Southwest Trekking
Come ride with us.  We can help you bleed and smile too.

On The Road Again (Continued)

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Starting up The Dalton Highway

So, another day.  We get a late start, but we make good time.  The first half of The Dalton Highway is in good to very good condition.  Yahoooo……  Good thing we bring an extra ten gallons of fuel.  They make it sound like there is more fuel than there actually is.  We use every gallon we have to get to Coldfoot.  Coldfoot is considered the halfway point to Prudue Bay, or sometimes called Deadhorse.  It has been pretty much raining the whole time we are on the road.  We need fuel to go any further.  Finally find a fuel depot, down a side road.  The parking area is a huge mud pit with lots and lots of trucks, tandem trailers.  Every vehicle is covered in mud.  Top off all three tanks and hit the road to locate a place to camp.  Go down a dirt road and find a nice quiet place to spend the night.  It has been a long day.

We make plans to start our day much much earlier than we had that day.  To much driving for one day on back country road.  It would appear that up to this point we are one of the very few private vehicles on the road.  I would guess 200 trucks to one vehcile travel this road.

Be patience now.  It gets better, or as I like to say ‘more interesting.”  Oh yea…….

John Heiman


Our Edible Desert, Prickly Pear (Nopalitos Rellenos)II revised

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I rewrote the  recipe to reflect some changes the most important being boiling the pads to make them not be tough. 

Nopalitos or nopales are the adolescent pads or leaves of the prickly pear cactus. These are the vegetable portion of the prickly pear. They are a staple food in Chih. Mexico where I spent my Summers as a kid. So I have eaten them in omelets, guisados (stews) and salads. Tonight however I am going to make Nopales rellenos for the first time. I found a great recipe on the Masa Assassins blog spot. But first here is some info on preparation.

Wear thick gloves to avoid the thorns and glochids(tiny thorns). Pick small to medium pads about 4″-8″ long. Remove with a large sharp knife and tongs. Hold each pad firmly and cut of the thorns  and nodes Also trim the connection point and outer ring of skin/thorns.


6 prickly pear cactus paddles, cleaned
Oaxacan string cheese (quesillo)
1 Onion

3green chilies 

4 eggs (separated)
Vegetable Oil
Salt to taste


Clean and boil the select nopales for thirty minutes. Pair similar sizes preferably small.
Place thin slices of cheese , onion and green chili on one nopal and cover with a second one, basically making a sandwich.

Secure the nopales with toothpicks

Nopales Rellenos - Stuffed Nopales in Batter

Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks; gradually beat in salt and yolks.
Heat the oil in a large skillet until a few drops of water sprinkled into it bounce around. Dip the stuffed nopales in the egg batter to coat.

Fry in the hot oil until golden brown on each side.
Drain on paper towels

Top with Salsa of choice, optional Crema and serve. The salsa we use is green tomato and chile de arbol based.

Nopales Rellenos - Stuffed Nopales in Batter

Doesn’t that look great? I will let you know tomorrow how well this new dish comes out!

Here is a table with the Nutritional Value of Nopal
Amount of nopal (raw): 1 cup
Total Weight of nopal (raw): 86 g
Basic Components
1.1 g
80.9 g
1 g
Total Calories
Calories From Carbohydrate
Calories From Fat
Calories From Protein
Total Carbohydrates
2.9 g
Dietary Fiber
1.9 g
1 g
Fats & Fatty Acids
Total Fat
0.1 g
Total Omega-3 Fatty Acids
4.3 mg
Total Omega-6 Fatty Acids
37.8 mg
Vitamin A
393 IU
Vitamin C
8 mg
Vitamin K
4.6 mcg
0.4 mg
Vitamin B6
0.1 mg
2.6 mcg
Pantothenic Acid
0.1 mg
6.3 mg
141 mg
0.5 mg
44.7 mg
13.8 mg
221 mg
18.1 mg
0.2 mg
0.4 mg
0.6 mcg

Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide

Back On The Road Again (Continued)

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Well OK, actually I am back home but wanted to update you all on what transpired since we last talked.

John, that being me, would go to the public libraries and connect to the wireless system offered, plug his printer and notebook into an outlet and do the office work for Southwest Trekking. Including payroll, which the staff seemed to appreciate.

So I am in Fairbanks Alaska.  A couple of observations, the city is great, a bit, well, different from what I am used to, to say the least.  They consider themselves bike friendly, there are ‘bike routes’ around the and in the city, but the signs that are posted read, “Bike route, stay on sidewalk’.  That’s a bit weird and not much fun.  Matter a fact there was a biker fatality on one of my rides around town.  I didn’t think drivers were very friendly reagrding shareing the road.  On one of my rides I got, well, knda lost, again.  Yes, yes, so what, you never got lost before?  No big deal though.  This time I had my GPS on the handlebars and turned on and tracking.  So it all worked out OK.  The only thing that had me a bit concerned was a major storm looked like it was heading right my way and it was and it did.  Good thing I am not so sweet that I have worry about melting.  Several days I tried to go for a mountain bike ride but it was raining a lot and every time I hit the treailhead that the locals had recommended I felt they were to wet to attempt.  I had to stick to riding on the road. 

I went back to Wright Aviation and was able to not only hang out and check out The Cessna 208/Caravan but was able to join on one of their scheduled flights to a couple of the back country/bush villages and, and I was able to fly in the right seat.  What a fantasy/dream.  The pilot was way cool.  My age and a rock solid pilot.  The good and bad thing for the day was that it was not a good day for sightseeing.  Matter a fact their was barely any visibilty at all.  A minimum for instrument takeoff and landings.  The cool thing was that I got to firsthand experience flying into some of the villages that I had heard about and wanted to visit anyway.  We did GPS assisted approches and departures.  I have to admit it was way crazy to not be able to see the mountains that were, kinda, right off our wingtips and confidnetly fly off into the clouds.  Yahoooooooo  Wild and crazy but way, way cool.  I love that plane even more now.

Then, then it was time for my wife to fly into Fairbanks to join me for the remainder of the adventure.  She arrived at about midnight and of course it is still light out.  It is dumping rain and we need to go to the campsite and set up our ‘accomodations’.  Sweet dreams to start another day in Alaska.

More to come, soon.  Keep on reading

John Heiman


Southwest Trekking

Fireweed it's along most of the highways in Canada and Alaska

A Mountain Bike Ride

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Here is some information to a new trail I found out in the Tucson Mountain Park. There is always something new to find out there, and this was a real treat. It hosts some technical riding, and some great views.   However, it’s rather steep and technical in sections, with pretty good drops, so be careful not to biff it going through the hard bits.  This short new section of trail offers more advance riders the opportunity to change up their rides by allowing you to bypass some of  the Bowen Trail.

I accessed this trail by leaving from the JW Marroitt at Starr Pass and getting on the Bowen Trail.  I rode the Bowen/Yetman Trail past the stone house, through the wash, and up to the saddle.  At this point you can go straight (takes you down [riding towards the water storage tank that you can see] to the Starr Pass trail which is marked with a wooden sign), go right which eventually pitters out into nothing, or go left.  Take the left (almost a U turn) and follow the trail until you merge up with the Bowen Trail.   

I have included a link to where you can find a map and more details about the ride.  Copy and paste it into your web browser, and you are a-for-away.  If you have an account with Trimble Outdoors, you can download this file to your Garmin or simular GPS unit.  Good luck and happy trails.

Mohave Rattlesnake

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

This morning on our hike we had a wonderful photo opp with one of our less commonly seen friends in the desert, the Mohave Rattlesnake. It was a small snake about 1.5 feet long with a beautiful green/grey tint. Keep your eyes peeled outthere you wouldn’t want to step on one of these little guys. Here is some info from the Pima .Edu site.

size up to 4′ (1.2m). With its “coon tail” and similar color patterns, the Mojave Rattlesnake is easily confused with the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. Unlike the Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, the Mojave often has a greenish tinge, the diagonal light stripe behind their eyes does not contact their mouth), they have 2-3 enlarged scales on the top of their head between their eyes (versus not present), and white bands on their tail may be much wider than their black bands (although this does not consistently work).
NATURAL HISTORY: Venomous. The toxin is extremely dangerous and medical attention should be sought immediately (the bite is potentially fatal — when bitten, call the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at 626-6016 in Tucson and 1-800-362-0101 elsewhere in Arizona). See also section on Venomous Animals.

Carnivorous, feeding mostly on rodents, but occasionally eating other small animals. Largely nocturnal. Hibernates alone during the winter or with just one or two others (unlike most rattlesnakes that congregate in large groups) in a rodent burrow commonly. Gives birth to live, venomous young. See Rattlesnake Facts below for more information.


  • Arizona has more species of rattlesnakes (~11) than any other state in the U.S.
  • They are one of the most highly specialized organisms
  • Fangs are like retractable hypodermic needles
  • Venom breaks down blood and/or paralyzes nerves, useful for subduing prey and beginning the digestive process (and warding off threats)
  • pit organRattlesnakes use many senses
    • Eyes for seeing when there is sufficient light
    • Pit Organ for “seeing” at night or when there is insufficient light (this is how they get their name — pit viper). The pit organs appear as holes located between each eye and the mouth and they sense heat (infrared radiation). They act as infrared goggles that military personnel use at night.
    • Nostrils for smelling
    • Jacobson’s Organ for augmenting smell. It is located on the roof of the mouth and interprets chemical scents delivered to it by the forked tongue. Each fork of the tongue actively collects chemicals from the ground and air and brings it to the respective side of the Jacobson’s Organ. This allows the snake to determine which direction the prey was traveling.
    • Body feels ground vibrations, allowing the snake to “hear” animals approaching
  • Rattlesnakes give birth to live young that already have a “prebutton” on the end of their tail and are venomous (don’t be the one fooled by the curio shops selling rattlesnake eggs)
  • rattleA new segment is added to the rattle after each shedding of the skin, and rattlesnakes shed their skin more or less often depending on many factors (e.g., food intake, temperature, etc.); therefore, one cannot determine the age of a rattlesnake by counting the rattle’s segments. The rattle rattles as segments brush against one another (not like a kid’s rattle that has something inside).

         Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide




Egg Follow Up

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

A couple of blogs ago I touched on the fact that I had found a couple of eggs laying in a rather precarious place. I had been scouting locations for a photo shoot for CBS’s Watch magazine. I had gone to an old house that was built out of stone that has become a ruin. The house in on the top of a rock covered hill. When I reached the top of the hill I noticed a bird fly away. The bird had been sitting under a small lip of a rock. I proceeded further up the hill and came to the spot that the bird had flown from. When I reached that spot I looked down and saw two very small white eggs laying unprotected except for a tiny overhang of a rock. I found this kind of strange. Gila monsters and many other desert critters love to help themselves to a nice egg breakfast and I wondered what type of bird would leave their eggs so exposed. I did a bit of research and still could not figure out what type of bird it was. Well my initial thought was that it was a Burrowing Owl but from what I had known they burrowed. It wasn’t until I contacted The Arizona Sonora Desert Museum that I found out the answer. Apparently the Burrowing Owl doesn’t always burrow. When it lives in an area where the ground is hard sometimes they will nest on the ground and not in the ground. I haven’t had an opportunity to return to that site again to see if the eggs had hatched. My guess is that they did and all is well with them. It goes to show you that there are many things in the desert that will even trick the best of us.

Rick Gray, Southwest trekking lead guide, RCDM


Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Our monsoon weather has moistened the ground and called out to the tortoise’s, to come out and eat!  I was fortunate enough to see a tortoise on my complimentary hike in the Tucson mountains on Thursday, and another clear across town at Dove Mountain on Friday.  Here is some info from the Desert Museums website about why not to handle tortoise’s.

“Well-adapted physiologically and behaviorally to live in dry desert environments, desert tortoises derive almost all their water intake from the plants they eat. A large urinary bladder can store over forty percent of the tortoise’s body weight in water, urea, uric acid and nitrogenous wastes. Water conservation is further aided by an ability to precipitate solid urates in the bladder, allowing water and ions to be reabsorbed while uric acid is eliminated in semi-solid form. During periods of sufficient rainfall tortoises drink copiously from temporary rainpools and eliminate solid urates. A common defensive behavior when molested or handled is to empty the bladder, leaving the tortoise at a considerable disadvantage in drier conditions. For this reason, desert tortoises should not be handled when encountered in the wild. Other avenues of water loss include respiration, defecation, and evaporation.”

Observe and enjoy from a distance please!

Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide