Sunday, December 29, 2013

Photos from a road trip #2

From the Mojave, we headed south to the land of saguaros, the Sonoran desert.  None of these iconic cacti are found west of the Colorado River, although the cactus in the opening shot is a type of cholla--very pretty but nasty to tangle with!  Keep your distance and enjoy in the abstract, thank you very much.  We camped and hiked in the fabulous Kofa National Wildlife refuge, a place of over 500,000 acres set aside for  the elusive desert bighorn sheep, which we have spotted on a couple of occasions, although no this time.  Rough dirt roads and incredibly rugged mountains define the area.  Except for a couple of jeep drivers, we had the area to ourselves for a couple of days--sweet silence and remote camping.  Except for washes and the few roads, there are no trails, so one must navigate by the numerous landmarks.  We found that by carefully selecting our route, we could keep Django (and ourselves) clear of the dreaded cholla spines.  We always carry a Leatherman multi-tool for pulling spines and such from paws and boots and legs.  To our delight, Django go no spines in his paws on both the hikes we did, even if the second one was only following a road.  Jodi did, one morning, inadvertently lead the poor hound into a nest of the dreaded things, but I came running to the rescue and lifted Django--whole hog--out of the mess and cleared his paws.  Virtually windless, still and sunny days, cool and silent nights, the joy of desert camping in the winter:

We tried a little rock climbing in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix:

In the morning shade we headed for the Hand--the slender spire on the right.  I don't have a lot of pictures, but the climbing was thrilling, with often poor or sparse protection.  At one point I clipped into an old, bent, loose piton that, if I fell and it pulled (likely?), I would smash into the ground from at least 60 feet.

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