Peloncillo Mountains Wilderness

Short days since noting the lifeless nature of winter twilight—vibrant resurgence. Budding energy permeates the fabled lion winds of March. Emanates from fertile earth after months of benevolent rain. Short days after posting those last photos I found myself east of town in the Peloncillo Mountains, inert up top while blanketed in lively yellow flowers down below. Found myself the next day in the Gila Box, emergent blossoms in all directions. Found myself yesterday to the west, meandering atop Peridot Mesa amidst literally millions of freshly bloomed wildflowers. Found myself in awe, once again.

Dead of Winter

While much of the world has been experiencing exacerbated effects of climate madness this winter (or scorching summer in southern half) the past several months in SE Arizona have been phenomenal. Lots of rain, cooler temps, even a few flurries now and again. The upper halves of the surrounding sky islands are covered in snow. White capped peaks thousands of feet above the desert scenery. I find daily appreciation in the beauty of it all.

Photos do start to get a bit monotonous, however, with nothing but earth tones—browns, grays, and reds—for miles in all directions. Things look a little dead all over, but the walking around is as good as it gets. Less vegetation, no snakes, perfect hiking weather, and water everywhere. And I’ve been getting out a lot. Hiking, camping, and off-trail exploring. Too many miles to keep track of and plenty of new places. Making sure to maximize the moments before the heat settles in for the summer. Thought I’d share a few photos. Drab as they may seem on a screen, traversing these sparse rugged landscapes continues to inspire.   

January 1, 2023. Dos Cabezas Wilderness from Ft. Bowie.

Picketpost Mountain

I’ve posted a few photos of this place before, but still find new trails each time I’m over that way. One of my favorite places to walk around for a day.

Superstition Wilderness

Spent a couple of days hiking and camping in the Superstitions. A short drive from the Phoenix metro area this place is heavily used, but if you get a few miles from the trailheads it’s easy to find solitude. Stark spectacular formations abound. One of the most prominent features is Weavers Needle, visible from miles around.

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

I stumbled across Whitewater Draw, a state wildlife area, last year while picking spots at random in the Gazetteer and driving to see what was there. I was a bit late last spring, but made sure to get back there this year to check out the record numbers of Sandhill Cranes that winter in this location. SE Arizona provides winter habitat for an estimated 40,000+ Sandhills and around half of those choose Whitewater Draw as their winter home. I suppose I feel an affinity for the cranes as they migrate from southern deserts to northern climes each year, with a large population summering in Fairbanks. For several years I would see the cranes at various locations across the US and Canada while traveling the same route there and back. The draw of the Draw is watching the cranes leave early each morning and return in the afternoon. Huge flocks darken the skies and their unmistakable vocalizations create a surreal sonic backdrop. There are also plenty of other waterfowl that share the area and walking paths around the ponds make it easy to check everything out.

Gila Box

The backyard. I’m here for work all the time and have recently been exploring in my free time as well. So much to see.

North Santa Teresa Wilderness

Spent a couple different days in February walking around in the Santa Teresas. Follow the creek for a while then climb till you can’t climb anymore. Your legs may give out before the mountains do.

Jackson Mountain

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness

I’m out here several days a month. The past couple weeks have been amazing. Side streams in full flow and waterfalls everywhere.

Like all my wildlife pics I took this one with a potato, but if you look close you can see a tree full of coatis.

Winter Tribulations

Getting up too early (after 13 hours in the tent) and waiting impatiently in 20° temps for the sun to crest canyon walls. Rough!

Redfield Canyon Wilderness

This is another area I cover for work, but it’s so remote that visits are rare. For a year now I’ve been planning a trip to try and see what the canyon is really about. Finally made it happen last weekend. Three days and 30 miles of isolated wilderness travel. A special place.

And that’s that. Will finish with a flare of fabricated color. Purple skies and green walls. Just for fun. Upper stretches of Hellhole Canyon in the Aravaipa Wilderness.