New Additions in February 2015

Below is a list of pages added to this blog/website in February 2015. I didn’t add as many pages this month because I focused more on creating more ways to make it easier to search and find content here. Clicking on links below will open the page in a new tab so that it will be easier to follow links on those pages and still get back to this one.

My favorite February 2015 hike in Angeles National Forest was along the PCT and Kratka Ridge watching the clouds from last weeks storm roll in.

My favorite February 2015 hike in Angeles National Forest was along the PCT and Kratka Ridge watching the clouds from last week’s storm roll in.

I spent some time learning how Google’s My Maps functionality works so that I could create a way for people who prefer to look at maps to find content here.

New My Map Page:

  • My Map. I Created a Google Map for hiking in Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. I added locations of trailhead parking areas, peaks, and points of interest that link back to pages with more information on this blog. I plan to add other categories in the coming months that will eventually link to most of the information I create here. This link also has a tab in the main menu bar and an image link on the side menu bar.

I think printed guidebooks are helpful and I still use them. For me, their major shortcoming is that the medium is forced to rely mostly on descriptions that aren’t always helpful if one doesn’t already possess a good understanding of the landscape. For example, a reader that doesn’t already know the difference between a limber pine and douglas fir won’t be helped by a description stating that one or the other is found on a trail. In a case like this, photos could help one better understand what is being described. Because most of the photos on this site are on trail photo gallery pages, the opportunity to link a gallery of photos to a wide variety of resources exists. Eventually, my reference pages will be a great way to search this blog for more information. This month I focused a lot of my available time on linking descriptions of hikes in two guidebooks (describe below) to photos on my site. Since those two guidebooks are major resources for Angeles National Forest, I’ve added an image of each book with a link to the reference page in the sidebar.

Updated Reference Page:

New Reference Page

Hiking Journal

Updated Peaks:

New  trail photo gallery:

New reference map pages:

 

Heart Of Devil’s Canyon

My last hike in Devil’s Canyon was back in February of 2012. On that day, I was with a group of people and we had the rare experience of hiking back up the canyon; first in a rain, then hail and finally snow. Being a down first variety hike and having enjoyed that past experience which diminished the impact of the uphill climb to the finish made the thought of a typical hike uninspiring. So, I stayed away.

Precipitation turned from rain to hail and then snow as I left Devil's Canyon in February 2012.

Precipitation turned from rain to hail and then snow as I left Devil’s Canyon in February 2012.

Prior to this trip, I had only been down the canyon twice before and both times I stopped at the trail camp–which is the last point shown on the map I use most often. On both occasions, I thought about how the trail appeared to continue down the canyon beyond what was shown on the map and I put it on my hiking “to do” list to return and see what lies beyond. Looking to ramp up the distance and elevation gain of my hikes more slowly than last year and hopefully avoid another re-injury, the prospect of Jerry Shad’s description of a fairly idyllic mid-range distance hike to a waterfall with some boulder hopping sounded very appealing — even though it was obvious to me on the front side that I might not be able to make it to the falls1.

Evidence of trail maintenance in several spots (like cutting a notch out of the tree in this photo) and lack of poodle-dog bush make the trail down to the camp easier to traverse now compared to 2012.

Evidence of trail maintenance in several spots (like cutting a notch out of the tree in this photo) and lack of poodle-dog bush make the trail down to the camp easier to traverse now compared to 2012.

Since my last trip down the canyon, the trail to the camp has received some maintenance, poodle dog bush is now almost completely gone, and forest re-growth has greened the landscape noticeably within the burn areas.

The short hike down Devil's Canyon to the camp is easy to follow and is often shaded and next to a stream (at least early in the year) for a significant portion of the journey.

The short hike down Devil’s Canyon to the camp is easy to follow and is often shaded and next to a stream (at least early in the year) for a significant portion of the journey.

Moving beyond the trail camp quickly becomes arduous and slow going. Before long, the trail is overgrown to varying degrees and often temporarily disappears completely to later reappear and disappear again downstream at varying levels of clarity 2. At times, the only obvious way forward is to walk through the stream until another way becomes apparent. Fallen trees and other fire-related debris from the Station Fire of 2009 also obstruct the way through the stream in many areas making the route forward a continuous exercise in trying to determine the path of least resistance–east bank, west bank, or stream.

One of the many areas along the stream obstructed with fallen trees and other debris from the Station Fire of 2009.

One of the many areas along the stream obstructed with fallen trees and other debris from the Station Fire of 2009.

It didn’t take long before I started wondering how far I’d go before deciding to turn back. Often I could hardly go twenty feet without needing to stop and figure out a way to continue. A hundred feet without needing to stop and decide how to move forward became a rare and pleasant circumstance. However, moving forward was made easier than it could have been because someone had gone before me recently enough that the rock cairns of that person’s journey still remained to help guide me. At times, by the water, footprints served to further reinforce the fact that someone else had recently been through this area.

Placement of the cairns was often subtle and easy to miss, though often occurring in pairs to more clearly indicate the way, at times as close as a series of ten to twenty foot increments. Still, they aren't always that easy to spot even when I stopped to search the landscape. I'm sure I missed several. Some are more obvious depending on one's direction of travel.

Placement of the cairns was often subtle and easy to miss, though often occurring in pairs to more clearly indicate the way, at times as close as a series of ten to twenty foot increments. Still, they aren’t always that easy to spot even when I stopped to search the landscape. I’m sure I missed several. Some are more obvious depending on one’s direction of travel.

With few exceptions, moving downstream generally meant more decision points closer together and more problem-solving required to get around obstacles of various kinds. This was especially true as the canyon walls continued to close in. With a much higher level of mental focus required for me to make it through the landscape, my thoughts were more random than usual and some kind of break in concentration was needed to allow my mind to think about other things than just finding my way forward.

Juxtaposition of the beauty of one of the comparatively ample flowing waterways in the San Gabriel Mountains and the aftermath of an arsonist's fire cluttering the landscape with debris.

Juxtaposition of the beauty of one of the comparatively ample flowing waterways in the San Gabriel Mountains and the aftermath of an arsonist’s fire cluttering the landscape with debris.

The dramatic contrast between the easy way down to the trail camp and the increasingly difficult way forward eventually had me thinking about some metaphorical analogies to Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness 3. Once my mind started making those connections, more of them continually popped into my head throughout the rest of my journey. Moving past the maintained portion of the trail where most people turn back didn’t lead to a kind of pristine wilderness. While there were many areas where the beauty of the stream dominated the scene, the bulk of the trip involved moving through a landscape profoundly scarred by the darkness of an arsonists malevolent actions–a kind of madness loosely resembling that of Mr. Kurtz.

One of the more open and pleasurable spots to be in as I made my way downstream.

One of the more open and pleasurable spots to be in as I made my way downstream.

The further I went away from the trail camp the more helpful the cairns became. I got to a point where it was taking me over an hour per mile to traverse. I would have gone slower without the cairns and definitely would have turned back much earlier. Similar to the help Marlowe received to be able to move deeper into the Congo 4; I was mostly following someone else’s path (when I saw it) and benefiting from that person’s prior knowledge of the trail in it’s more accessible state and/or better ability to plot a course through overgrown terrain. For the first time on a hike, I felt the importance of cairns as a means of helping one find one’s own way back. Although the stream was a dominant feature for guidance, what seemed like countless decision points to move around obstacles generated too many choices to be easily remembered. Without the cairns, it could just as easily take me longer to find my way back. It was also reassuring to know I wasn’t alone in recently traveling this far downstream. The continued presence of cairns and footprints made my goal of reaching the waterfall appear attainable. Periodically making my way through areas of a thickly constrained landscape (closely resembling bushwacking), and arriving at more open and pleasurable spots also motivated me to continue downstream and see what other nice places I would find. That the way forward was so challenging for me made each new spot feel like a reward truly earned.

One of the two makeshift sites I came across with some remains of open fires (prohibited for good reason outside clearly designated areas of Angeles National Forest).

One of the two makeshift sites I came across with some remains of open fires (prohibited for good reason outside clearly designated areas of Angeles National Forest).

Arriving at the first of two makeshift sites (possibly camp sites) turned my attention once again to Conrad’s story. The fact that open fire is prohibited in Angeles National Forest outside of designated campgrounds and picnic areas meant that at a minimum someone was unaware of forest regulations related to fire. While I’m sympathetic to not knowing all forest regulations, I think it should be self-evident that starting an open fire in an area so clearly devastated by fire and suffering negative impacts of prolonged drought is, at a minimum, a negligently bad idea. I found these remains disturbing and between the first and second such site I found myself thinking a lot about the madness of Mr. Kurtz and the kind of rationale he developed for his actions. While I don’t know the circumstances or thinking that led the person (or people) to start these fires, I can’t imagine agreeing with their actions. Perhaps that’s unfair. However, as I stood at the second such site, I found myself surprised that I continued to come across things that turned my attention back to the book.

View toward the spot where I ate a late lunch before turning back.

View toward the spot where I ate a late lunch before turning back.

I never made it to the falls. It was taking me too long to make my way downstream and I wanted to allow myself a little extra time to return in daylight in case I missed some cairns along the way and had to double back in order to proceed (which I did). Also, I had stopped caring about walking through poison oak which was a clear indicator in my case that it was time to turn back. I hate itching and normally would invest the time to more carefully avoid something like poison oak. However, the constant need to find a way forward and the many traverses through dense vegetation (where I ripped a large hole in my backpack) had worn me down both physically and mentally. I needed to save more energy than usual to make it back upstream and out of the canyon. As I sat on a fairly comfortable boulder eating a late lunch I wondered whether the trail would once again be maintained to a more idyllic level as described by Schad. I wondered what the water level was like here in years when California isn’t suffering from extreme drought. Then, my mind wandered back to Heart of Darkness for one last metaphorical connection. Conrad’s story was also about the broad cultural enterprise of imperialism and its role in influencing the specific actions of the characters involved. I thought about how the answers to many of my questions about the health of the forest (e.g. water levels and the prospects for long-term regrowth before the next fire) are tied to the consequences of anthropogenically induced climate change. I thought about that off and on until I made it back to the trail camp. From that point, the way back up the maintained trail out of the canyon was very easy compared to the terrain I’d been hiking through for the past several hours. Once again being on the maintained part of the trail, greener and easier to hike than last I saw it, my thinking moved to the positive things happening in the forest and things that at least have the potential to mitigate our anthropogenic impacts on climate. After putting on my headlamp for the last half mile to the car, I thought about the interplay between the landscape and what is going on in one’s mind and how that impacts the nature of a hike. I won’t forget about this one or what I was thinking about on it anytime soon.

NOTES:


  1. My expectation regarding what I would see beyond the trail camp was limited to Jerry Shad’s description in Afoot & Afield in Los Angeles County. His account indicated that at some point the trail would end and the only way forward would require me to “boulder-hop and wade”. That he also described the trail beyond the camp as “a fairly distinct path in places” at least as far back as the second edition of the book (almost a decade before the Station Fire), was a clear indication that I might not make it to the falls. 
  2. See this photo gallery for numerous additional photos mostly showing the comparatively open areas of the terrain between the trail camp and where I stopped. 
  3. Probably a more popular reference would be the movie Apocalypse Now which was loosely based on Conrad’s book and included the character known as Kurtz. 
  4. When thought of as an analogy within the far more trivial context of moving downstream on a short day hike. 

A River, A Bridge, And A Bighorn Sheep

My favorite hike in Angeles National Forest last month was along the San Gabriel River to the Bridge To Nowhere. In the past I hadn’t hiked this trail mostly because it wasn’t strenuous enough for the training I was doing to get ready for various trips I had planned (e.g. Mt. Whitney twice, The Grand Canyon rim to rim and back, and last year’s injury postponed  High Sierra Trail). This year I’m focused more on recovery and preventing myself from getting reinjured. Although I will go on a number of trips this year, they will be planned only a few weeks in advance and will be tied to where I’m at in my recovery. Unless I get under a certain weight, my trips will be limited to the car camping variety so I can keep pack weight down.

San Gabriel River in Lower San Gabriel Canyon

San Gabriel River in Lower San Gabriel Canyon

So, a hike along a river with not very much elevation gain sounded like a good choice for my first hike of the year covering over ten miles, and it was. San Gabriel Canyon’s combination of relatively flat terrain along the river, with a comparatively wider width, and the highest enclosing walls of any canyon in Angeles National Forest make it a unique landscape to walk through here. I still need to get between the Narrows and Vincent Gulch to view the highest walls (at the base between Mt. Baden-Powell and Mt. Baldy). The result is a kind of grand enclosed openness with dramatic long views.

One of the long views down river.

One of the long views down river.

The San Gabriel River flows with more volume here. Several canyons and gulches drain into it bringing water down from some of the highest peaks in the forest. River crossings here mean your feet are going to get wet.  Even with this extreme drought California is enduring, I found myself almost knee deep in water a few times and over ankle deep several times as I waded through the numerous crossings mandated by the flow of the river hitting alternating side walls of the canyon. Clearly, it’s a good idea to pay attention to any storms and consider the amount of precipitation released to know what level of water to expect.

One of the many steam crossings required due to the river flowing into one of the canyon walls.

One of the many steam crossings required due to the river flowing into one of the canyon walls.

As the river meanders or straightens out to follow it’s easiest path down toward East Fork, as the grade changes to alter the speed or it’s movement, and as the river channel itself widens and contracts; a variety of diverse places emerge. In some places the canyon is wide enough for the river to be less dominant. This makes a continually changing landscape which I found invigorating to traverse.

An oak tree on the continually changing path along the river.

An oak tree in the foreground on the continually changing path along the river.

The Bridge to Nowhere is located on private property that is technically not part of Angeles National Forest. There’s a sign informing visitors of a handful of reasonable rules for entry. In the past, when I’ve talked to people about this hike, their focus tended to be on the bridge and the bungee jumping opportunities that exist there. While this is a truly unique opportunity within the forest, I found reaching the bridge a little anti-climatic. Perhaps it’s because I have no interest in bungee jumping. I found the bridge to be mostly a good stopping point and a nice place to have lunch before turning back. While there, I contemplated how happy I was that the bridge doesn’t connect to any roadways. I found the river and canyon so unique for this forest that it would be a shame not to be able to walk through it as I had. Also, being there, I found that it really didn’t bother me that a commercial bungee jumping enterprise was set up. Although the location is interesting as it leads into the Narrows, it is actually fairly intimate and doesn’t (visually at least) impact much around it making it a pretty well contained activity.

The Bridge To Nowhere

The Bridge To Nowhere

On my way back I experienced one of my all time favorite interactions with wildlife in the forest. A bighorn sheep appeared on the trail directly in front of me. We both stopped and looked at each other long enough for me to get my camera out and take a picture.

Bighorn on the trail in front of me.

Bighorn on the trail in front of me.

Soon, the bighorn slowly walked toward me. I found this unexpected as I’m accustomed to animals moving away from me when they see me (or at least staying put).  After crossing about a third of the gap between us he headed up the rocky outcrop on my right.

Bighorn veering off trail and heading up the rocky outcrop.

Bighorn veering off trail and heading up the rocky outcrop.

I assumed he had disappeared out of view for good only to hear his steps getting closer. I looked up and saw him looking down on me from about mid height of the outcrop (why did I put my lens cap back on my camera?). Fortunately, he gave me enough time to turn my camera back on, take my lens cover off, and snap a somewhat shaky photo of him moving away from me to higher ground.

Bighorn just above me as he moved around me by going to higher ground.

Bighorn just above me as he moved around me by going to higher ground.

Learning from my mistake, I kept my camera out and was ready when he came down from the outcrop and began his journey up a ridge. The whole time, all I did was stay in the same spot and rotate myself to face him. He slowly made it up the ridge looking back toward me only on occasion. Soon he was far enough away that he blended into the landscape and was only visible when he moved. I found it impressive how well he blended into the landscape. That made me wonder how many bighorns I might have walked by over the years and not noticed.

Bighorn just after coming down from the rocky outcrop and heading up the ridge.

Bighorn just after coming down from the rocky outcrop and heading up the ridge.

This was definitely the highlight of my hike. Part of what made this experience great for me is that the time it took for the bighorn to make it around me felt like he moved with awareness but no fear. It felt like my presence in his home wasn’t that annoying. While I don’t imagine having another exchange like this, the river will be a guaranteed highlight for me anytime I return. I’ll be back often.

New Additions In January 2015

Among the things I’m working on improving for 2015 is to better communicate what pages get added and updated on this blog/website due to the fact that I publish far more pages than posts. The blogging aspect is handled pretty well as every time I add a post, those that choose to follow the blog get alerted to that new content by their chosen source for following. However, when I add a page or update a page (the more website nature of this endeavor), there’s no automatic way to inform people. So, I’ve decided to write a monthly post that outlines what pages are new or updated to make it easier for returning readers to find what is more recent. What follows is the my first “New Additions” monthly post.

Hiking up San Gabriel Canyon, following the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere, and seeing a bighorn was my favorite Angeles Forest hike this month--#6 of the year.

Hiking up San Gabriel Canyon, following the San Gabriel River to the Bridge to Nowhere, and seeing a bighorn was my favorite Angeles Forest hike this month–#6 of the year.

Clicking on links below will open the page in a new tab so that it will be easier to follow links on those pages and still get back to this one.

Hiking Journal

  • New journal started for 2015 and accessed from the 2015 Hikes tab. New in 2015 is a map included with each hike described. I went on eight hikes in January.

New Peaks:

  • ABDSP Peak 2152: Elevation 2152′–Anza Borrego Desert State Park. (Note: this peak is unofficial but a great extension to the Rock Tanks Loop).
  • Josephine Peak: Elevation 5558′–Angeles National Forest

Updated Peaks:

New hikes with step by step instructions:

New trailhead pages

Updated trailhead pages

New trail segment information pages:

New  trail photo galleries:

New points of interest pages:

New Photo galleries for areas outside Angeles National Forest:

New book reference page:

First Impression Of The Anza-Borrego Desert

Hiking in 2015 began for me with a camping trip to the Anza-Borrego Desert with my friend Scott. I’ve had going there on my bucket list since I met a hiker a few years ago near Mt. Wilson who gave me an impassioned description of its magnificence. The area this desert encompasses is so vast with so much to see that I found choosing a place to go overwhelming. Thankfully, Scott is in the process of hiking all the trips covered in Afoot & Afield: San Diego County which allowed me the opportunity to simply tag along on a couple hikes he hadn’t yet done. I chose to have this trip be about simply getting a glimpse or the desert with the understanding that I plan to go back several times to garner anything resembling an introduction. My glimpse turned out to be engrossing and I hope to return a couple times this year before it gets too hot for me.

View from an unnamed peak with Smoke Tree Canyon visible on the left. Dry teddy-bear cholla cactus and ocotillo stand out in the landscape.

View from an unnamed peak with Smoke Trees Canyon visible on the left. Dry teddy-bear cholla cactus and ocotillo stand out in the landscape.

Although I went on three hikes on the trip,1 I want to share a brief look of my most tangible first impression through the lens of parts of just one of them–mainly Smoke Tree Canyon. In the areas I visited, my main impression was that there is an extreme duality that every part of the landscape displays in relation to water. I expected the dry part. From a distance, adjectives like barren, desolate, and stark ring true. I hadn’t really thought that much about how intense the wet part could be nor how it would show up in the landscape.

View from the unnamed peak looking across Smoke Trees Canyon to the mountains beyond.

View from the unnamed peak looking across Smoke Trees Canyon to the mountains beyond.

By the time I found myself enjoying the view from an unnamed peak, I had been thinking about the presence/absence relationship the landscape had with water for a while. While contemplating the rocky ground I was standing on, devoid of almost anything that could be considered dirt as most of that must get washed down the mountain sides in the rain; I looked out toward the mountains and noticed the high walls of Smoke Trees Canyon characterized by heavy erosion scarred cliffs terminating the mountain slopes.

View up Smoke Trees Canyon from an unnamed peak.

View up Smoke Trees Canyon from an unnamed peak.

I turned my attention further up the canyon thinking about the awesome impact water must have moving down these mountains in the rain. With no meaningful vegetation to slow water down or soak it up, the volume of water and speed by which it travels through the canyon must at times be phenomenal. I began wondering how little rain is actually needed to produce a flash flood. The scale of the area producing drainage is so vast.

Looking back at a dry waterfall that we needed to scramble down enclosed by rock canyon walls.

Looking back at a dry waterfall that we needed to scramble down enclosed by rock canyon walls.

Reaching the canyon floor, long expansive views gave way to tall enclosing walls. The ground being sandy as opposed to the rocky ground leading down the mountain side, it was clear that I was walking down a temporarily dry stream bed. My earlier bird’s eye view from the peak wasn’t required to see the absence of a potentially fast moving and deep body of water flowing through this area.

Metamorphic rock walls of Smoke Tree Canyon

Metamorphic rock walls of Smoke Tree Canyon

The first part of our walk down the canyon was through a narrow channel surrounded by metamorphic rock walls cut out mostly by the horizontal force of large volumes of water moving down the canyon. Even without water present, there are still points with enough large boulders on the canyon floor that minor rock hopping was required to move forward. I found the rock walls and narrow space between them impressive. They formed an amazing and continually unfolding area to walk through. At the same time, I thought about the bird’s eye view and the extreme nature of this landscape. These walls weren’t carved out by a continuously flowing river at any time in their history. The space I was walking through was created by a long series of individual events. Events that continue to occur to this day making this scene only temporarily dry. Although I have no idea how big of a storm is required to create a depth of water that would be problematic for someone to be in this area, my guess is that it would be hard to gauge without extensive experience and that it would be best for novice desert visitors (like myself) to avoid areas like this during any rain. This isn’t some permanently dried up stream bed; it’s an active area fueled by the whims of weather patterns.

Sedimentary walls appear further down Storm Trees Canyon as it also widens.

Sedimentary walls appear further down Storm Trees Canyon as it also widens.

Further down the dry stream bed, the canyon begins to widen and sedimentary walls–some still pretty tall– appear. I found the difference dramatic. Water must get comparatively slower in this area allowing debris to pile up and then erode. The size of some of the boulders up high appear to mark a past canyon floor height.

Lower walls take form as the canyon continues to widen.

Lower walls take form as the canyon continues to widen.

As the canyon continues to widen, smaller height walls take form in the area between the larger walls defining the canyon. With those more interior walls down to about the standard height of a room, I began to start thinking about how close I was to being able to see over them.

Multiple channels below knee high emerged as the canyon continued to widen.

Multiple channels below knee high emerged as the canyon continued to widen.

Soon, I was able to see over these interior dividers as their height dwindled down below knee high and the canyon opened up considerably. There were now choices regarding which channel I wanted to walk or if I preferred walking a straighter line through the more elevated and more rocky terrain between the channels. At this point the juxtaposition of all the different heights of the channels I had walked through had me thinking of the different perspectives each yielded. Looking at the ground, there were still more channels, just at a smaller scale. Channels that ants would find as enclosing as the ones I found higher up the canyon. This made me think of the film The Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames. Standing in one spot I could see clearly several orders of magnification of scale relating to the impact of water moving through this landscape–all without water being present.

The curvy ridge like top, thinning out to almost a point, felt to me similar to the smaller shapes etched into the canyon floor and no higher than the soles of my shoes.

The curvy ridge like top, thinning out to almost a point, felt to me similar to the smaller shapes etched into the canyon floor and no higher than the soles of my shoes.

This idea of seeing similar things at different scales dominated my thinking for a large part of the remainder of my hike. I enjoyed looking at features in the landscape and considering the larger or smaller version. Upon seeing something I found interesting, I would look around to see if I could find a similar form at a different scale.

One of the many sculptural scenes as the canyon transitioned to a wash.

One of the many sculptural scenes as the canyon transitioned to a wash.

As the canyon gets wider and water has more area to disperse and slow down, the tallest enclosing walls begin showing erosion caused more by runoff from higher altitudes created by more of a sheet flow over cliff like edges. While the walls are obviously different as seen from the canyon floor, the source of this difference in the direction and depth of water flow generated erosion can be seen clearly from the views looking down on the canyon from the peak. The result is a more vertical from of erosion. By the time I reached a zone transitioning the canyon into something more like a wash, numerous more sculptural scenes emerged as the tallest canyon walls shortened continually until they ended altogether.

Smoke trees dominate the horizontal landscape as the canyon widens and the speed and depth of requisite water necessarily decreases.

Smoke trees dominate the horizontal landscape as the canyon widens and the speed and depth of requisite water necessarily decreases.

The presence of smoke trees 2 further underscored for me the large amount of water that must make its way through the canyon at times. Looking back toward the mountains, standing in the completely dry landscape, the dramatically wetter reality was everywhere to be discerned. A rain at any time (not necessarily seasonal) could change the feel of the landscape profoundly, perhaps to the level of producing a flash flood or to a lesser degree simply greening the vegetation. As a result, my first impression of this landscape is that it has an extreme wet/dry duality that is there to see at all times.

Notes:


  1. We stayed in the Culp Valley Campground and walked the short Culp Valley Trail that is an extension of the campground. On our first day, after setting up camp, we hiked Lower Willows with a small and interesting side trip to a palm grove and culminating in a engaging view from the Santa Catarina Spring Monument area. On our second day we hiked Rock Tanks Loop with a small extension along a ridge to an unnamed peak. I took over 400 photos which I pared down considerably into 11 small galleries easily accessible from the links in this note. 
  2. The smoke trees, being so much more densely configured than the other vegetation outside the canyon implied for me significantly larger continuous water requirements for survival. Their presence suggested to me an indication of just how much water can flow through this area. I’ve since read a little bit about them and confirmed that they require a fair amount of water for survival.