Yavapai’s Rooftop


I finally got up to Yavapai County’s highest peak, Mt. Union, yesterday afternoon.  The road to Potato Patch community was not as skeevy as it was the last time, and the parking area at the edge of the village was snow-free, so I parked and walked through Potato Patch to the trailhead.

The trail was generically uphill, through ponderosa pine, but my focus was on the shade, and the fragrance, as opposed to dwelling on the sameness.


Mining does not appear to be active here, but the claimant is taking no chances, with the “gold rush”(dribs and drabs) downhill in Stanton, AZ.


I spent some time along the east slope of nearby Mt. Davis.  Summiting it did not seem very easy.  There must be  a route to the top, though,as others have written about reaching it.

There are always more mountains, no matter how many one explores.  Here are nearby Moscow Peak (foreground) and Big Bug Mesa(background).

The summit of Mt. Union offers radio towers, and views of the southern Bradshaws.

Then, one can view Granite Mountain, off to the northwest,

and little old me, too close to the camera.

Hope Thursday finds everyone in a hopeful mood.cool

Lions, Tigers, Bears and A Crank Telephone


As the road to Mt. Union trailhead was snowy and slippery, after Saturday’s weather outburst, I opted for a three- tiered visit to the Verde Valley, as my Sunday outing.

After Sunday breakfast with my friends at the Post, I headed out to the Clemenceau Heritage Museum, in Cottonwood.  It is Cottonwood’s historical museum.  Mining and rail magnate James S. Douglas founded a smelter and a town, named Clemenceau, after the Prime Minister of France, Georges Clemenceau (depicted below), who was a friend of his.  The area became part of the town of Cottonwood in 1960.

The museum is only open on Wednesdays and Friday- Sunday, due to limited volunteers.  It does have a decent collection of memorabilia from the life of a teacher at Clemenceau School in the 1900’s, a model train collection, whose builder is the docent, and various items connected with the Clemenceau Smelter.

The various trains and tracks occupy a whole room.

Here’s a typical classroom from the 1900’s.

I have used each type of radio, at one time or another.

Can’t say I’ve used a telephone like this, though.

After about an hour at the museum, I headed east on the road towards Camp Verde, stopping for a couple of hours at Out of Africa Wildlife Park.  Here the accent is mainly on large carnivores, with a small number of herbivores on the periphery of the park.  The mission of the park is education of the public, regarding the needs of large animals, and conservation.  The first segment involved tigers frolicking in a sizable pool of water, with some attendants tossing them balloons and chunks of meat.  Tigers are not averse to water, the way house cats are, so it seemed something enjoyable for them.


Roaming around the fenced-in range, though, would bore me, too.

It had to be warm for the Grizz.

There were various lions, both savannah and Barbary (Sahara Desert) types.

The white tiger shares a range with a lioness.


The Black Bears and the hyenas live in pairs.

Here is a jaguar, which kindly posed for this photo.

This capybara is the world’s largest known rodent.

Last, but not least, this black ibex is one of several herbivores which are housed on the park’s eastern edge.

As there was still plenty of daylight left, I chose to end the day with a short walk in Clear Creek Park, which allows a visit to one of the Verde River’s more prolific tributaries.

It has some of the same limestone ledges that are found at Montezuma’s Castle.

The major draw, though, is the free-flowing water.  Unlike that of Prescott, the water is not so completely dammed-up and channeled.  The Verde, Clear Creek and Beaver Creek  have limited irrigation and reservoir usage.


Nature is like Chinese boxes, and this little trip opens the way to others in the future, like Beaver Creek and Fossil Creek, both further east in the Verde watershed.

White Boulders and A Seeker of Truth


I have had this urge to further explore the area of Agua Fria National Monument known as Badger Springs, for some time.  Looking at the weather prognosis of rising temperatures in the Sonora Desert, it seemed yesterday was the best day for this.  I headed out before fixing lunch, which I don’t often do- and found myself at the empty parking lot of Badger Springs Trailhead, some twenty minutes later.

I stopped and sat on a rock in the gas company’s line field, and finished off a “lunch’ of trail mix, then headed on down the trail into the Monument itself.  The first part of my journey followed a BLM road, up and down desert hills, for about two miles.  I was planning to hike around for two hours or so, then head back to town.


The landscape is full of white granite and limestone, leached by the intense summer sun, for thousands of years.

It is also the season for cacti to flower, so the hedgehogs were very accommodating; so, too, were the desert bushes, like the catsclaw.


As I was headed up and over yet another hill, I heard a rustling on the trail behind me.  I was no longer alone, with the approach of E., who, it turns out, is a frequent visitor to these parts.  She had a light, almost ephemeral, manner, and offered to show me Badger Springs’ most amazing area:  The Agua Fria itself, flowing in earnest.  So, we backtracked and went down to a spot where the river which has given its name to the monument.

Coming to the conclusion that the intervening marsh land would not make for a pleasant walking experience, we headed further west, to the actual Riparian Trail.  Along the way, we were greeted, briefly, by a bull snake, which hightailed it back into his hole, after checking out the “threat’ with his tongue.

Other than a red-tailed hawk, the snake was our only vertebrate companion for most of the afternoon.  We came upon these scenes, once reaching the river.  There are petroglyphs, just before the river itself.

Then, the Agua Fria reveals what made Bruce Babbitt work to get this area designated as a national monument, in the first place:


After we took off socks and boots, rolled up our pant legs and enjoyed the cool water  for a while, we sat on a limestone boulder which has brought E. great comfort in the past.  She has spent many hours with this rock, and contemplated its story:  All the people who have sat, laid or just stepped on it; the ants who crawl over it, in search of tidbits; the weather and water it has endured. For the next ninety minutes, we sat and discussed just about everything under the Sun- our life experiences, her metaphysical beliefs, my faith, Christ, Baha’ullah, Quantum Physics, ectomorphs and endomorphs (She is the latter, and I am somewhere in the mesomorph range), her career as a hairdresser and mine as an educator, my life with Penny, and our respective child-rearing experiences.  I realized that my conversations with people, of late, have been getting much longer and more intense, but also much more mutually satisfying.  So it was yesterday afternoon- just two souls, appreciating the joyous day and our surroundings. Her purpose, E. said, was to seek after truth, and so we did.

The surroundings got even better still.  After another ten minutes of boulder hopping, E. led me to the Agua Fria’s piece de resistance.              


This led to another forty minutes of discourse, by which time, we found the after-school and after-work visitors arriving, jumping in the cool water, as we had earlier, and, up on the mesa above, engaging in rifle practice, though thankfully not aiming at any of us below.  Two hours had turned into four and a half, and it was time to head back to the cars.  The delightful afternoon began and ended with a hand shake.  There were no exchanges of e-mail addresses, phone numbers or future meet-ups.  The afternoon was far too meaningful- and the surroundings much too blessed.

The Watershed Trail


Thursday, I spent the afternoon going along the Watershed Trail, on the northwestern flank of Spruce Mountain, in the Bradshaw Range.   It was 6 miles, round trip, and gave me a fair workout.  This is the second of the three hikes I have planned in the north section of the Bradshaws.  I think the last one, Homestead Trail, will wait until I have my project for my online course put to paper.  That will be a victory lap, of sorts. Mt. Union/Mt. Davis are also in the same range, and will be Sunday’s focus, weather permitting.

Here are some shots, which are also in my Prescott Area Hikes album.  The first one has a sign, that is a bit faded.



The foundation of the old cabin makes a great water trough.

On the northeast ridge, one may view Mingus Mountain, and beyond it, the San Francisco Peaks.

There’s no snow on top of this old smoky, but the transmission lines run from Phoenix to Flagstaff, by way of this wilderness.

Two-tones sure are beautiful.

My Easter, and My April


I had a fine Easter breakfast  of Crepes Suzettes, with maple-flavoured bacon, hash browns and coffee, this morning at the American Legion Post.  There is always a meaningful conversation, or two, to be had with the Post brothers and sisters, even if some of it is about health issues.

Later today, I will pay last respects to an old friend.  Bruce was 89, had a form of dementia, and had lived a gargantuan life.  He made his own furniture, largely built his own home and had a way with both words, and money.  He made both of them count, for a lot.

Yesterday, I had a bit of Spring Fever.  I did take time to scout out the road, and the parking possibilities, for my upcoming hike up the last two major peaks in Yavapai County left for me to explore:  Mt. Union and Mt. Davis.  I will head up them on April 15, weather permitting.  When I got home, I napped, then took tea and worked on my education course.  I am pushing myself hard on this one, even though it is not all that much work.  I’ve been burned a few times, in my academic life, so each step, through each course, is a big victory over myself.

This coming week, I will present the video, “Education Under Fire”, in Chino Valley, a few miles north of here.  See http://educationunderfire.com/, or watch the video on You Tube, and consider signing the petition on the website.  Also, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qsc-mglel-w, for a similar view of what the issues are.  Basically, what government has the right to deny anyone an education?

Besides the above-mentioned mountains, my feet will take me to trails with such unassuming names as “Homestead”, “Ranch” and “Watershed”, at different times this month. More Sedona visits and a jaunt to the Colorado River are also near at hand.  Work, and my course, are primary priorities, though.

Hope one and all had a Happy Easter, Chag Pesach Shameach or just a blessed Sunday.

The Ranch Trail- With No Ranch


As I indicated in my Easter post, several things are on my agenda for this month, including a few hikes.  I got out and showed the video “Education Under Fire” last night, to a few friends in Chino Valley, about ten miles north of Prescott.

Today, I did my course assignment, then headed out to one of the trails I have picked out in the Bradshaw Mountains.  This is the Ranch Trail.  It takes the hiker up and over three small mountains, or large hills.  It’s just far enough out of town that one may see the Costco to the north and Mt. Union to the south.

Much of the time is spent in stream beds.

It’s spring, and small life forms show the promise ahead.


Sometimes, one must go under the obstacles.

Thoughts on “The Hunger Games”


I went in to the Multiplex and saw one of my favorite actresses in action last week.  Jennifer did her usual well-crafted and heartfelt performance.  Her character here bears several similarities to Ree Dolley, from “Winter’s Bone”, not the least of which is the headstrong girl being thrust into a maternal role by the emotional absence of her mother.  At least in “The Hunger Games”, Mom seems to be snapping out of her doldrums, towards the end of the film.

Suzanne Collins may be trying the patience of some, with the odd names she’s given some of the characters, especially “Katniss”, but the premise of the story is plausible enough.  Granted, some scenes are eerily reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Running Man” and “The Stand”, but Stanley Tucci’s Caesar is no cookie-cutter Fascist, in the mold of Richard Dawson’s Damon Killian, nor is President Snow as menacing as Jamey Sheridan’s Randall Flagg.

The rest of the cast contributes, to varying degrees.  Josh Hutcherson, as Peeta, is probably the next strongest character- which is fortunate, given that Katniss needs him, in order to get out alive.  Tucci (Caesar) and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch) seem to be having a blast, in their respective roles.  Wes Bentley, as the Hunger Games coordinator, Seneca, is  suitably conflicted between his loyalty to President Snow ( a rather tepid Donald Sutherland) and his reverie over the notion of teen romance ( as in his contriving a relationship between Katniss and Peeta).  Liam Hemsworth (Gayle) seems to function mainly as a Girl-Candy counterbalance to Jennifer, but it’s not her beauty that’s the draw here. The young lady can act, very well.

The scenes of the Capitol (a three-way cross between Washington, Las Vegas and Denver) are cartoonish at best, but we could see that coming, as soon as Effie Trinket (a goofy Elizabeth Banks) shows up, escorted by Star Wars-ripoff guards, in the down-at-the heels mining camp where the Everdeens live.  The mountainous Games venue puts Jennifer/Katniss in her element, and she carries the film quite well.  Amandla Stenberg (Rue) steals a few scenes, and may be a rising star in her own right.

Jennifer Lawrence is one of several versatile and very watchable young women in film, along with Dakota and Elle Fanning, Anna Sophia Robb, Evan Rachel Wood, Elizabeth Olsen, Gabourey Sidibe, Anna Popplewell, Shailene Woodley and the sadly absent-of -late Caitlin Wachs and Mischa Barton. The present series is a worthy venue for Ms. Lawrence to grow in stature, in the public eye.

A GMO -Free Ranch


Genetically-Modified Organisms are industry’s attempt at feeding the masses, through altering the genetic codes of certain foods- Soybeans, corn, wheat are the most common items involved- and some tomatoes, potatoes and rice are affected as well.  The idea is to make big bucks, while fending off microorganisms and other pests.  It has had mixed results, in that regard.  Pests are rather clever at finding a way around the ruse, using their own genetic engineering.

In the meantime, we now look at the first long-term results of the tinkering.  Allergies, cancer levels and secondary mutations among farm animals are being traced to the GMO’s. GMO-free movements are cropping up, in many places being closely tied to the Slow Food movement, which, as one might guess, is a reaction to convenience foods and drive-through burger joints.  Locavores and farmers’ markets are the most common manifestation of the blend.

I had the pleasure, last Saturday, of visiting Orme Ranch, a pesticide-free, hormone-free cattle ranch, about forty miles east-northeast of Prescott.  The establishment has been around for about two decades now, and, while having its struggles with the agricultural establishment, may well represent the most promising future for meat production in this country.  The cost of treating diet-related diseases is not going to decrease, and the cost to our economy of health-related absences from work and school is far greater than any of the powers that be want us to recognize.

This is where “streamlining” and “efficiency” are falling off the tracks.  The Orme Ranch is, among other things, by following conscientious soil management, careful grazing policies, crop rotation and humane treatment of cattle, managing to keep soil erosion to a minimum and is actually restoring the water table- no small feat in our semi-arid grassland and chaparral- covered environment.  The larger operations, pretending to be “too big to fail”, may very well be bringing catastrophic failure on themselves, through practices that look good on the balance sheet, but are Pyrrhic in the successes they present.

The ranch wife pointed out something very humbling:  “The only true wealth comes from the earth.  It is grown, mined or hunted.”  All else, then, is wealth that exists on paper.                                                    

It may look desolate, but Orme Ranch is surprisingly productive.  I wonder, when I go to Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas next month, how many heartfelt farm and ranch folks will I encounter?