Friday, November 27, 2009

"Black Friday" hike...

Far, far from the madding crowds of malls, today...
the day after Thanksgiving is a day for me to avoid the crowds of consumers...
(at least, this year, so far, I've not heard of anyone dying in a Wal-Mart stampede...)

So, like last year, today, a hike...

...into Pontatoc canyon and then up the ridge, in the middle of the southern face of the Santa Catalina range, Tucson's 'backyard.'

After parking at a trailhead parking lot in the shadow of ritzy desert-'palaces', you hike behind the backyards of those privileged foothills-homeowners, and then, officially behind the 'wilderness line,' you descend into the canyon, looking up at distinctive Finger Rock... crisscross the boulders of the seasonal-creek-bed, then begin to climb the backside of the ridge to reach the sunny southern side, from where all of Tucson spreads out, (surprisingly green), below:

...A couple of miles and a couple of thousand feet later, you reach the end of the trail, about 5000' high.

Much quieter than the mall-parking-lot on this last Friday in November...


Last weekend, an out-of-town friend came to stay with, of course, we went to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, where 'raptor free-flights' are currently going on; this Harris' hawk hadn't yet had time to adjust its wings upon landing:

Truly impressive--one of the only birds that hunts collectively in family groups.

And Harris' hawks (native to South America, originally) are actually relative newcomers to the Sonoran desert--about a century ago, they began following ranchers, since they have water tanks for their livestock. With those reliable water supplies, they were able to 'settle' in the desert, then finding riparian environments with other water sources, learning to hunt the local prey--reminds me of the now ubiquitous (but no less beautiful) cattle egrets--successful avian 'colonizers'.

The mountain-lion habitat is always one of the most popular sights; these cougars must be the most-photographed cats of their kind:

...gotta love that face, eh?

...and a semi-random quote I came across the other day, by Albert Camus:
L'automne est un deuxième printemps où chaque feuille est une fleur.
(Autumn is a second spring when each leaf is a flower.)

Joli, non?

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