Archive for February, 2011

Taking the dog out

Monday, February 28th, 2011

As any local knows, yesterday was a pretty rare treat. As Brit eluded to, the entire surrounding mountains of Tucson, and even the basin, received some snow. Being a transplant from Chicago, I’m not a stranger to snow. In fact, I would actually rather be out hiking, biking, or climbing in inclement weather; it seems to add an additional element which is not apparent when the skies are clear and sunny.

So when I woke up and saw that white canvas of a mountain, I immediately suited up and put the dog in the car. Knowing that the Mt. Lemmon Hwy is notoriously closed when winter conditions are present, I wasn’t too surprised when I was turned around by the sheriff department at the base of the mountain. So I went to plan B and drove to the the Augua Caliente/ La Mila Grossa canyons. No snow on the ground there, but up canyon a little was pure white. So off we went; the dog blazing the trail and me running behind. Shortly into the hike/run, and after gaining a ridge and some serious elevations, the plants and cacti had a crust of snow on the windward side. Another mile in and the snow was sticking to the ground, and by the time I reached Augua Caliente Peak at around 5,000 ft. in elevation it was all white with about 3 inches of soft fluffy powder. My dog was thoroughly enjoying himself, running and sliding in the snow and I was was taking in the great views. And then, up in the clouds that I had entered, it started to SNOW! I was getting snowed on in the desert while standing around prickly pears and juniper trees. After a brief stay up in the snow, both my dog and I ran back down the trail, jumped in the car and headed home.

It’s nice to have the Coronado National Forest and the Santa Catalina Mountains as a backyard.

A Snowy Smorgasbord

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

This morning heading out to Star Pass I had a moment of disorientation. The mountains I was looking at, the saguaro studded Tucson Mountains, looked like the ranges I’ve seen in Colorado or Washington. Was I really still in Tucson? Then I caught a glimpse of the Santa Catalinas with the white powder extending all the way down the peaks into the foothills – it looked too magical for words. As soon as the sun rose I ventured out to get closer to the white hills. Saguaros, those tall columnar cacti, were coated in snow, white poles poking towards the clouded sky. As I gained elevation, I came across prickly pear popsicles and cholla dusted with powder. The moisture brought out the colors in the rocks on the trail – reds and oranges and greens – so that it felt like I was walking along a path of swirled sherbert. Iced saguaros, popsicle prickly pears, sherbert trails – a smorgasbord for the desert dweller.

Brit Keeton, Southwest Trekking Guide

Our Edible Desert, Spring menu

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Hello all, well spring is upon us in the Sonoran Desert! Time to start up our foraging again. Some of the new things we’ll be trying and making some recipes for are, Scarlet Globemallow, Tansy Mustard, Shepherds Purse, Henbit, Wild lettuce, Sow Thistle, Persimmons, Desert Mistletoe,  among others many of these can be eaten raw, so we will be making native salads with them. Others must be cooked or boiled so soups and stir fries will be on the menu. We will also explore some edible insects.

Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide

It has arrived.

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Well, it’s time has come. The 24 Hours in the Ol Pueblo is quickly approaching. Time to get all the last minute stuff put together for the race. The logistics for getting to, and preparing for the race is a feat in itself. Trying to remember everything, getting all the gear situated, bikes in order, support crew updated, and preparing food is a lot to do. And then I have to actually race a bike.

My bike has also arrived. I like to compare it to a samuri sword; the best tool for the job. Cuts through the dirt and dusty trails like a hot knife through butter. So hopefully 6 months of training, and this awesome new bike are enough to get me through this epic ordeal.

If you’re not doing anything this weekend, you should check out the race. If you have never been to the 24 hour race, or any mountain bike race for that matter, you’ll be suprised at how many insane people willingly partake in this crazy battle of man, bike and trail.

Gettin’ Out

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Today the “I must get out of the city” bug bit me, and I began driving towards Gates Pass. Looking at the gas tank arrow sinking closer to empty, I did something that I’m rarely inclined to do: I pulled off the road where all the other cars were pulling off, at a site occupied by stone buildings built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The buildings were constructed in an unobtrusive way, blending into the scattered rocks of the desert. I wandered up to a small structure perched on the hillside to find the local marijuana hangout of the high school crowd. On a stone was scrawled the declaration “Smoke more pot”. There was a table inside and a fireplace, and on almost every interior rock were names scrawled in bright paint. Modern pictographs. Looking at this derelict remnant of our civilization was not quite what I was going for when I set out to “get out”, so I began wandering towards the nearest high point along what sporadically was and was not a trail. The gravely bedrock took over the path in places, and where spots of dusty dirt occurred I saw a faint print of a javelin hoof. Once I reached the boulder perched on the rise I looked across the wash snaking below to the vertical lines of tanned rock mounting towards the sky. In spots the hide-colored rock turned a faint red, as though some sacrifice of a mythically large creature had occurred in that place, as though the rock itself was spilling its lifeblood. From that boulder I spied another – this one rising towards the cloudless sky like a tongue of flame. I was grasped by the urge to stand atop it, that deep-seated calling to climb to the top of the world, to see, perhaps to finally thrust the spirit towards the heavens like a falcon shooting skywards off a cliff. I scrambled to its base and beyond, reaching a point where the rocks were wedged one atop the other like ice cubes in a glass. Carefully I hoisted my body from one slanted rock to the next until I clung to the top of the flame licking towards the blue expanse above, trembling as I contemplated the hundreds of feet between the cactus below and me. The other side of the boulder was perched on a cliff, dropping into nothing but pure space. After the exhilarating bolt of terror passed I lowered myself to solid ground, having remembered fragility, having recalled how infinitely tender our tiny bodies are. Maybe that’s why some of us climb beyond comfort: that momentary transcendence of the ego. A brief shattering of the illusion of our own importance. Descending to my origin, I passed rocks of purple, and then some white as bone, the exposed skeleton of the earth. When I had almost reached the parking lot thinking that the magic of my brief foray had ended, I was caught by some lichen glowing green on the dry sun-baked rock – the same green color shared by the chlorophyll-laden palo verde. And now I sit here on a rock wall built by hands decades ago, listening to the scuffling of gambols quail beneath a jojoba, watching a curve-billed thrasher tilt its head towards the rock-strewn ground.

Brittany Keeton, Southwest Trekking Guide

Wow busy

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Hello,  wow we busy!! I’ve been answering questions and renting bikes all morning!  Only sad thing is I don’t have time to work on bikes! Oh well guess I’m over that now! Wonderfully active group of guests, in right now.  Only one person got up for the morning hike. But one that tips beats three that don’t right. Well that’s it for now , Remember enjoy your ride and trip your guide!, if you go it alone buy yourself a drink and pat yourself on the back!!!!                                  Just Get Out There!!!

Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide

Barking Peccaries

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Have you ever been barked at by a pig? Well, not a pig exactly, but a peccary – one of those snouted brown furry creatures that run around in the desert? It happened to me yesterday, and I must say that it’s a tad disconcerting. The “ruff, ruff” had a disgruntled, somewhat displeased sound to it. It said “What is this strange-smelling, odd-looking creature on a bizarre metal contraption doing making noises at me? Perhaps I need to defend myself.” What made the experience even more disturbing was a memory that shot through my head: I had been told that javelinas belong to the rodent family. Was I being threatened by something akin to a giant rat??? Upon further research I found that peccaries are not, in fact, members of the rodent family but belong to the order Artiodactyla which includes pigs, cattle, and giraffes of all creatures. They are also referred to as “skunk pigs” because of their potent odor. Since these critters have poor eyesight, they rely primarily on their sense of smell for communication and as a means of orienting themselves in the world. They have a scent gland located on their butts, and a herd of javelina will rub their butts together to establish a herd scent which they then use to mark their territory. I’ve never witnessed this butt rubbing, but it sounds like a rather interesting phenomena. And it makes me glad that humans do not have to rely on the same sense as javelinas.

Temps are risin

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Ahh. my reptilian blood is starting to thaw! It’s heading back into the 70’s, temp wise, perfect for a party. Come on out to 6262 S. caballo rd tomorrow, from 2pm til night,  for my birthday party and housewarming. Bring a friend and a dish. We will not be watching that soccer game! But we will probably get in a nice hike.

Randy Young, Southwest Trekking Guide

Record cold in Tucson???

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Wow 18 degrees the official coldest temp in Tucson in our recorded time.  Thats damn cold for any of you who managed to stay in and cozy for the day! I will be watching the desert and will tell you if I see arms a droopin on our dear old saguaro friends. I had a bunch of wildflowers and stuff I had seeded in my yard sprouting, we’ll see if they survive.  Ahh the climate she is a changing, ready or not the world is changing, try to deny but its in your face. I look forward to the new experiences this shall bring. Inland seas, life adapting at a rapid pace or dieing at a incredible rate. What will you do?

19 Degrees and Windy

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

That was what I woke up to this morning at 5:30am. The midwest isn’t the only place seeing some unusual weather. Tucson, and the entire southwest for that matter, is seeing some really cold tempuratures. Douglas, for example, set a record this morning with a low of 9 degrees. 9 DEGREES!!! It was so cold in Tucson today that even my dog wouldn’t go outside.

The good news is that we are in a desert, while it might not feel like it now, and will warm up agiain the near future. Just one more cold cold night, then back up to the 50’s, and by next week we will be seeing the 70’s again. The midwest, however, will still be digging themselves out of 15ft. snow banks.

I guess it could always be a little worse than here.