Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review Photos

It's a good thing to look back on the year.  We all have so much to be thankful for. We get to live in a wonderful world with so many cool places to explore. It is hard to narrow down the best hike we enjoyed... we did so many cool hikes.

On the way home from Arizona we hiked into Bryce Canyon... the most amazing hike on a super fantastic sunny day.  This is Thor's Rock.

Another amazing hike was at the Chiricahua National Monument... in the south-eastern corner of Arizona.  We came here with our hiking club. They also have a "Thor's Rock" and here our next door neighbour, Toy, is posing near the famous rock.

To hike around these gigantic rocks is so thrilling! Shirley stopped for a photo op to help show the scale of these enormous layered rocks.

Michael is enjoying the view... it was truly spectacular!

We had several great hikes with our Del Web Community Hiking Club... and this was on a section of the Arizona Trail, called the Gabe Zimmerman Trail.

This was the Crested Saguaro that Shirley found near the North Cactus Forest Trail in our favourite Saguaro National Park just a few miles from where we live in Arizona.

The experts don't even know what makes these wonders of nature happen.

When Shelby and family came to visit us we did the tourist stuff at Tombstone...

Grand daughter Lucy gave us here best pose!

After a picnic in the park Shelby, Lucy, Kim and Maizy gave us their smiles.

In exchange they took our picture as well.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon on a tour at the ASARCO Mine south of Tucson.

I bootlegged this family shot in an old truck tire at the mine. I could not have paid these kids to pose like this... but the shot these kids mother took didn't have the toilet in the background.

These sandhill cranes gave us several hours of enjoyment at the Whitewater Draw, 75 miles south-east of Tucson.  There were thousands of these birds there.

On our property on Mayne Island we have a natural supply of sandstone... and I discovered a small cache of rock one day this summer.

I spent a lot of time this summer taking and shaping the sandstone to put rock facing on several columns for our carport/studio addition.

My enjoyment doing rock work is second only to doing tractor work.

This rock was mostly buried and in the way... so I dug it out and pulled it over to a new home. It got a promotion!

The tractor also helped me move our water storage tank so I could make a new concrete foundation for it.

On one of our many trips to the Okanagan last summer we did the Myra Canyon hike... where there are 18 trestles.  After turning the train track bed into hiking trails, a terrible fire destroyed many of the trestles... and they had to be rebuilt.

This view of the city of Kelowna was an amazing reward from the Myra Canyon trail. I estimate we were about 20 miles away from the Grand Hotel in the centre of Kelowna when I took this shot.

On our 49th anniversary we went to Kelowna Mountain Park, where they have four suspension bridges and a lot interesting things to explore and see...

Like this gigantic sundial.

This panorama has two peaks that we climbed since coming back to Tucson.  In the back is Rincon Peak, where we didn't quite make the summit... and in the foreground is Pistol Hill... only a few minutes from home.

Shirley and I have done this hike several times. There is more than one trial... and we love to do this little hike since we can do the round trip in less than two hours.

When the Common Sotol blooms, you get the tall stalk below with lots of flowers.

The view of Rincon Peak as we climb up Pistol Hill.

And the view from the top is pretty spectacular in every direction.

As we close another year we are reminded that we have lots to be thankful for.

We wish only the best to each one of our friends and family... and a very Happy New Year.

"Celebrate endings... for they precede new beginnings." -Jonathan Lockwood Huie

If you wish you can explore many of the hikes by clicking on the links below the photos.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hiking Pistol Hill

This morning looked like a great day to take another try at hiking Pistol Hill. In the background is Rincon peak... it still has a skiff of snow on it.  I was close to the top of Rincon just last Thursday.

Last week Shirley and I took a try at climbing to the top of Pistol Hill, but hiked up the road to the satellite towers and there was no trail to the top. We tried just scrambling up the hill between the cactus... but soon gave up and decided there had to be a better way. Today we found it.

As we started our hike a young man and his dog were just coming off the trail... so I talked to him. He runs the hill every week or so.  Good for him! He helped us get off on the right route to the top.

As we started to climb a part of our hike was in the early morning shadow side.

Shirley found this heart beside the cactus, so we took a picture and left the rock for others to enjoy.

Our lighting this morning was great for taking pictures.  Good contrast... nice shadows.

We saw a couple of these guys along the trail. Don't know who he was... but it reminded me of petals of a dead sunflower.

There were many Common Sotol on Pistol Hill.

I should have put a coin on the rock to help to show the size... which is about 8 or 9 inches across. You can see how it was split apart... and the beautiful white quartz was sandwiched between a reddish stone. A part of me wanted to take it home with me. But I just took a picture and left it there.

Since I'm working on a design in rock facing a wall, I am taking about 4-500 pounds of white quartz back to Canada... and it didn't take me very long to collect it.

I need help to know what shrub this is.

Shirley gave me her best smile as she came up the trail, surrounded by Common Sotol and Ocotillo.

I took a few shots of the dead flower of the Common Sotol.

You can see the stalk coming up from the base of the Sotol.

Close up of the Sotol.

On the top of Pistol Hill Shirley is scanning the horizon in the distance.

We could see 360 degrees around us... and to the south behind this stone cairn, the Santa Rita's.

Saguaro's don't grow on top of Rincon... but they are plentiful on Pistol Hill.

A survey pin on the top said Pima County, Monument No. 3

Tucson is surrounded by four mountain ranges... and we could see most of them from here. To the east is the Rincon Mountain Range.

To the south is the is the Santa Rita's... with Mt. Wrightston.

To the west is the Tucson Mountains and to the north and north-east is the Santa Catalina's with Mt. Lemmon... the whitest to the right.

On the way down I got a shot of a die-hard Ocotillo that just wouldn't stop blooming. Does it not know it's December?

We were almost back at the truck when I came upon this agave... and asked Shirley to stand beside it to give some scale to the plant.

This is the flower and fruit part of the agave.

And this is the base.

"My most memorable hike could be classified as 'Shortcuts that Backfired'."