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Birds Blues and Bellydance 2013

Birds Blues and Bellydance 2013

The past month has been an excellent one for backpacking and I’ve been lucky enough to have hiked from South Kaibab to Hermit in the Grand Canyon, the Alamo and Gila River Canyons passages of the Arizona Trail in full wildflowers, and a three day tour of the Rincons that included a trek to Rincon Peak, the little-used Rincon Creek Trail, and the new Quilter Trail/Arizona Trail in Saguaro National Park. Unfortunately all this backpacking has left me little time to update the blog.  I promise I’ll have one of the above trips up soon!

Looking down Monument Creek

Looking down Monument Creek

Gila River Canyons Wildflowers

Gila River Canyons Wildflowers

View South from Rincon Peak

View South from Rincon Peak

Spring is definitely in full swing, and it’s time for the third annual Birds, Blues, and Bellydance Benefit for Wildlife Rehabilitation this Saturday, April 20th from 7-10 pm at Sky Bar- 536 N 4th Ave.

Citan the Harris Hawk

Citan the Harris Hawk

There will be a Harris Hawk, an Elf Owl, and a Great Horned Owl from 7:30-8:30, funky blues courtesy of The Railbirdz, bellydance performances from Troupe HipNautic, Brandye Asya and others, and open dance toward the end of the evening with Ensemble Al-Salam.

Troupe HipNautic- from the left: Tama, Raja, Zahyra, Marjani, and Krishana

Troupe HipNautic- from the left: Tama, Raja, Zahyra, Marjani, and Krishana

The Railbirdz -photo by Mike Bieke

The Railbirdz -photo by Mike Bieke

100% of the $7 suggested donation plus 15% of sales at Brooklyn Pizza go toward food, housing and supplies for the birds and small mammals at the rehab, so come on out and have a beer and a pizza while helping a worthy cause!

Here’s the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/586386804712314/

Hope to see you there!

If you can’t make the event, but would still like to donate, click the button below to donate securely via PayPal or send an old-fashioned check made out to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson to Pima Federal Credit Union P.O. Box 50267 Tucson, Arizona 85703.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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Picketpost Mountain- the route to the top goes up the large gully in the center

Picketpost Mountain- the route to the top goes up the large gully in the center

First of all, the most exciting thing happened- I got my camera back!!! I lost my camera this summer at the end of my season working on the river in the Grand Canyon. It dropped out of my pack in a side canyon and I thought I’d never see it or the photos again. I hadn’t backed up the SD card, so out of 6 trips I did on the river, I only had pictures for two. Then a couple of weeks ago, I got a call from Arizona River Runners saying that they’d been contacted by someone who found my camera. I don’t yet know how or when they found it, but I am so very happy to have the irreplaceable photos back. The best part is the camera still works! I must have accumulated good camera karma from finding and returning the one on Table Mountain in December. Here’s one of my favorites, I’ll put together a blog post of some more soon.

Archaeology hike on the Unkar Delta

Leading an archaeology tour of the Unkar Delta

I went on three overnight trips in January: another Night on The Spine near the Gila River with my friend Wendy, a night on Battleship Mountain in the Superstitions and a night on the summit of Picketpost Mountain off the Arizona Trail near Superior, AZ. For a great writeup of our trip on The Spine, visit  Around the Next Corner with Wendy.

Wendy on The Spine

Wendy on The Spine

The trip up Battleship wasn’t to the summit, but to the deck of the boat for the night. When I’d hiked here in 2011, I thought it would be a great place to spend the night. Other than the bizarre January mosquito population, I was right!

Atop the deck of the Battleship

Atop the deck of the Battleship

My camp with a view of the Superstition Ridgeline

My camp with a view of the Superstition Ridgeline

DSCF5335

Battleship Sunrise

I was in Superior planning the Legends of Superior Trails Eco-Tourism Fest coming up onFebruary 16th and figured since I was in the area, why not spend the night atop one of Arizona’s iconic peaks. It was going to be a little cold, but three days of rain had resulted in some of the best visibility I’d seen in a while. The top of Picketpost Mountain was just the place to take in the views.

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Beautiful colors and textures

I started out in the afternoon from the Picketpost Trailhead on the Arizona Trail. My pack weighed down on me the first bit of the hike. I had thoughts of just continuing on the Arizona Trail and picking a nice campsite instead of scrambling straight uphill. Once I warmed up, I got in the zone and all was well. I didn’t see anyone after I left the parking lot- nice to have such a popular hike all to myself.

Base of the first scramble

Base of the first scramble

The temperature was perfect for the climb and I enjoyed working my way through the various obstacles. There was water running in the chute and patches of ice that were easily avoided. As I neared the saddle, the trail got mushier and mushier. It was easier to rockhop than step in the squishy mud.

Waterfall

Waterfall

Ice in the chute

Ice in the chute

The trail had water running down it on top of the mountain and the whole summit was saturated from the previous days of rain. As I hopped from rock to rock, they sunk into the trail. Made things a little unstable.

View from the saddle

View from the saddle

I reached the summit mailbox and the fancy new bench and was so glad I’d decided to spend the night. The views from Picketpost on an ordinary day are outstanding, but the absence of dust in the air made it truly spectacular. I could see so many Sky Islands from here- too many to name. Mount Wrightson, over 100 miles away, was as clear as could be.

Mailbox register and fancy bench

Mailbox register and fancy bench

Catalinas in the distance

Looking toward the Gila River with the Catalinas in the distance

Santa Ritas visible to the right in the far distance- over 100 miles away

Santa Ritas visible to the right in the far distance- over 100 miles away

I decided to camp right at the summit, rather than look for a more sheltered spot from the wind because I wanted the 360 degree views. There is room for one person right next to the tree that is free of rocks and I called it home for the night.

I hiked out to the cliffs overlooking Superior and was pleased to find a scattering of junipers, my favorite tree. Then it was time for the sunset- some clouds had rolled in making for a beautiful show. The temps plummeted as the sun went down. Since I was staying at the summit, there wasn’t really anywhere I could make a fire without making a huge mess, so I opted for a hot water bottle instead for heat. My dinner from Los Hermanos tasted even better than usual.

Found a juniper!

Found a juniper!

Looking down on Superior

Looking down on Superior

Picketpost sunset

Picketpost sunset

Great place to watch the sunset

Great place to watch the show

I settled in for a long, chilly night. My trusty Exped Downmat had broken and I was awaiting a replacement. I never appreciated how much extra warmth it gave me until I used a friend’s air mattress for this trip. It was breezy and I slept in fits and starts, once waking up for a couple of hours to write in my journal and admire the moonlit landscape. I also got to read through most of the logbooks in the mailbox, which were quite entertaining. Lots of familiar names and one thing that was interesting is how many small kids had been up to the summit.

Micro Chicken on the mailbox

Micro Chicken on the mailbox

By morning it had changed from breezy to full-on gusting wind. I ate a quick breakfast and made my way down the hill. The scrambling wasn’t too bad, as my pack was a lot lighter after having eaten my dinner and consumed a bunch of water.

Just enough room for one

Just enough room for one

Windy morning

Windy morning

I reached the turnoff from the Arizona Trail and met a group of guys who hadn’t been up before. They looked apprehensively at the mountain as I told them where the route went. I told them that there were folks as young as 4 and as old as 85 years old that had made it up there and they went on their way.

What a great night on the mountain, worth every bit of cold and wind for those killer views. It’s definitely a place I’d sleep again.

In Wildlife Rehabilitation news, it’s the time of year when I start planning the Birds, Blues, and Bellydance Fundraiser to benefit Wildlife Rehabilitation in Northwest Tucson. The third annual event will be held on Saturday, April 20th and once again at Sky Bar at 536 N. 4th Avenue has generously donated their fantastic venue for all the fun! Here’s a pic of Elfie and Raja from last year’s event.

Elfie the Elf Owl

Elfie the Elf Owl

Raja

Raja

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The second annual Birds, Blues, and Bellydance Benefit for Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson took place on April 14th and a fantastic time was had by all! Despite cold weather and Fourth Avenue being totally torn up for the trolley construction, we had a good turnout and raised $833 toward wildlife rehabilitation. Here’s some pictures from the event- all photos by the very talented Mike Bieke.

Luna the Great Horned Owl

Troupe HipNautic- from the left: Tama, Raja, Zahyra, Marjani, and Krishana

Raja

Janet Miller who runs the rehab and her son Russell with Elfie the Elf Owl, who had to stay in his house because it was too cold out.

Zahyra

Citan the Harris Hawk

Krishana's candle dance

The Railbirdz and their funky danceable blues music

Troupe HipNautic

Vagabond Incorporated provided live music for the bellydancers

Luna and her handler Sue

Things went so smoothly this year, there was even time for me to do a surprise performance!

What an event! There were so many people who donated their time and talents to make this happen. Huge thanks to Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza for donating the space, the talents of their graphic designer Serena Rose, and 15% of the food and drink receipts. All of our performers: The Railbirdz, Troupe HipNautic, Vagabond Incorporated, and Boz the MC were fantastic and generously donated their time to the cause. Thanks to Mike Bieke for donating his time to produce these beautiful photos. We also had a bunch of help from Russell Miller, Janet’s son, who brought members of the TKE fraternity, who volunteered their time. If you missed the event this year, don’t worry, it will be back again next spring! If you’d like to donate, you can do so online securely via PayPal to the wildlife rehab by clicking the button below, or send an old-fashioned check made out to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson to Pima Federal Credit Union P.O. Box 50267  Tucson, Arizona 85703.

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It’s that time of year again- time to head out to Sky Bar at 536 N. 4th Avenue from 7-10 pm Saturday, April 14th for the second annual Birds, Blues and Bellydance Benefit for Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson!

Citan the Harris Hawk

See Luna the Great Horned Owl, Citan the Harris Hawk, and the ever-adorable Elfie the Elf Owl from 7:30-8:30 pm. Enjoy danceable, funky blues by The Railbirdz and smoking-hot bellydance performances by Troupe HipNautic and their backing band, The Permanent Floating Riot Club. 100% of the $7 donation at the door, plus 15% of sales at Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza Company go toward the rehab. We had a blast last year and raised $1010 for this entirely self-supported rehabilitation center that treats and releases hundreds of birds and small mammals. I’d love if we could double it this year!

Gina closes the show last year -photo by Mike Bieke

I feel lucky to count myself among the dozens of dedicated volunteers that help 80-year old Janet Miller run the facility. Janet has encyclopedic knowledge and unending patience and spends thousands of dollars from her own pocket to run the only rehabilitation center on this side of town. So come on out and have a pizza and a beer and support this wonderful cause!

Elfie the Elf Owl

If you can’t make the event, but would still like to donate, click the button below to donate securely via PayPal or send an old-fashioned check made out to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson to Pima Federal Credit Union P.O. Box 50267  Tucson, Arizona 85703.

I’ve been on some pretty fantastic adventures lately, look for a blog post about my return to Baboquivari Peak in the near future. Hope to see you on Saturday!!

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After my intro to canyoneering in January, I had been dying to go out and do a longer canyon. My friend Clint set up a group on Leap Day to do Parker Canyon in the Sierra Ancha near Roosevelt Lake. Pretty far from Tucson for a day out, but it proved to be well worth it. I met up with five canyoneers in Globe and was excited for my first time out on this side of the lake. The drive up was beautiful and when we reached our destination, the first thing we realized was that it was going to be a chilly day! The scenery was worth every finger-numbing moment and we had a fantastic time. Here’s a video made by one of the other members of the trip:

In wildlife rehabilitation news, mark your calendars for Saturday, April 14th because it’s time for the second annual Birds, Blues, and Bellydance fundraiser! All proceeds go toward Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson.  Come out and have a pizza and a beer while supporting a great facility that helps hundreds of birds and small mammals yearly! Details below:

If you can’t make it to the event, you can always donate online by clicking here:

Or you can send a check made out to: Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson to Pima Federal Credit Union  P.O. Box 50267 Tucson, Arizona 85703.

"Elfie" the Elf Owl

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Elephant Head

I returned to Elephant Head  after two years with “Santa Rita” Bill Bens and Wendy. It was Wendy’s first time up and though she was a little nervous on the final scramble, she pushed through like a champ to the summit! Click on the picture below to go to the album from that trip. The captions tell the story, but if you want to read more about the hike, click here to go to my writeup from 2 years ago. :

Elephant Head 1-31-12

One of my favorite pictures of the set was when Bill met Micro Chicken, who has been riding along in my pack for several months now.

Bill meets Micro Chicken

My friend Taylor was in Tubac the next week and wanted to meet for a hike, so I suggested we do Little Elephant Head. I hadn’t been up there before, but it looked like a great destination from my hike of Elephant Head the week prior. The hike starts out at the same TH as Elephant Head, then turns left onto a spur trail that follows the undulating ridge out to the Little Elephant. This turn is blocked by a row of rocks at the saddle with the connecting ridge before the trail heads downhill toward the Quantrell Mine Tr. junction.

Floating rainbow over the Santa Ritas

The ridgeline that leads to Little Elephant Head

I know Taylor from a volunteer project that I did in the Grand Canyon in 2010 with the GC Hiker’s and Backpackers Association. He’s a hiking guide in the Canyon and has an infectious exuberance for the outdoors.

Taylor Branch serves up hors d'ouevers in style on the South Kaibab Trail!

It was on that trip that Taylor mentioned that he also did volunteer work on the Colorado River with Game and Fish. He said he’d put in a good word for me and that is how I got to go on my river trip last year. On my 12-day river trip last May, I fell in love with the Grand Canyon all over again. When I got back, I called the boatman in charge of my trip and asked him about the possibility of working for a commercial outfitter as a swamper (a boatman’s assistant and general gofer) next summer. He said that if I wanted to that he would put in a good word for me with his friend at Arizona River Runners. I said absolutely! I spoke to the person in charge of hiring numerous times on the phone last summer, asking all sorts of questions and finding out what the requirements were.

Looking back at Lava

After getting my Wilderness First Responder certification, I called and called again to try and set up a interview. Finally, in January I got one. I sat down with the owners and the first thing they said was, “We’re happy to talk to you, but we want you to know right off the bat that we don’t have any jobs available at this time.” I was a little sad, but went on with the interview. Well, I’m calling it the most epic interview ever because the next day, the owner called and said that he would like to offer me six trips this summer and a full-time position with a track to become a river guide! My first trip launches in May and I could not possibly be more excited. I don’t think I have even grasped how my life has just changed. It will all become very real come mid-May.

I wish it was May already!

So back to the hike, I was excited to see Taylor and give him a big hug for getting me on that river trip last year. He had never been to this part of the Santa Ritas and was really impressed with the views and the giant ocotillo forest. The route was very easy to follow, well beat-in and trimmed back. The ridge weaved this way and that and finally approached the exposed summit ridge. There was no exposed scrambling as on the big Elephant, instead there was a nice path that led to the top. We took a long break, enjoying the views.

Taylor Branch and Elephant Head

Summits of Elephant and Little Elephant

Summit ridge

From the looks of the register, it’s pretty popular with the locals, and I can see why. It’s a gorgeous little hike! Perfect if you don’t have the time or the energy to go “full Elephant”. There’s a couple of features like the Devil’s Cashbox and the Devil’s Throne that look particularly interesting, I’m going to have to take Santa Rita Bill up on his offer to check them out.

Massive ocotillo forest

Arizona Rainbow Cactus

2 summits in 2 weeks

Mount Hopkins

I am also going to have to come back when the ocotillo forests are green and blooming. It must be incredible!

In Wildlife Rehabilitation news, the second annual Birds, Blues, and Bellydance fundraiser to benefit Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson will be on Saturday, April 14th from 7-10 pm at Sky Bar- 536 N. 4th Ave. Live blues by The Railbirdz, birds from the wildlife rehab, and bellydance performances throughout the evening. 15% of all sales at both Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza will also be donated, so come by and have a beer and a pizza for a great cause. Hope to see you there! Here’s a picture from last year’s event:

Citan the Harris Hawk

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The Birds, Blues, and Bellydance benefit for Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson last Saturday, May 7th was a huge success! We raised $1010.00 that will go for food, medical care, housing, and maintenance for the many birds and small mammals at the wildlife rehab. $740 was from the door and $270 from 15% of food and drink sales during the event from the very generous Sky Bar and Brooklyn Pizza Company.

Everyone really liked to be able to see the Great Horned Owl and tiny Elfie the Elf Owl and Citan the Harris Hawk up close, and the birds did a fantastic job of keeping their composure at what was an unusual venue for them. They are a part of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson educational program. These birds cannot be released back into the wild, and the facility is licensed to do educational programs with these specially trained birds.  The Railbirdz rocked the house and filled the dance floor and the bellydance performances by Marjani, Amy, Brandye, and Gina were incredible. A heartfelt thanks to the performers, who all donated their time and talents to the benefit and thanks to Sky Bar/Brooklyn Pizza Company for being so fantastic to work with.  I was lucky enough to have my friend, photographer Mike Bieke at the event and here are some of his fantastic photos:

Sky Bar- photo by Mike Bieke

Marjani opened the show with a solo

The Railbirdz -photo by Mike Bieke

Great Horned Owl- photo by Mike Bieke

Citan the Harris Hawk - photo by Mike Bieke

Elfie the Elf Owl - photo by Mike Bieke

photo by Mike Bieke

Marjani and Amy dance a veil duet - photo by Mike Bieke

Amy and Marjani -photo by Mike Bieke

The Railbirdz funky blues got everyone dancing! - photo by Mike Bieke

Wine, pizza, blues, and dancing!

Brandye -Photo by Mike Bieke

Brandye - photo by Mike Bieke

Me and my helpful hubby Brian

The Railbirdz

Gina closes the show -photo by Mike Bieke

Gina -photo by Mike Bieke

Gina -photo by Mike Bieke

What a great night! I’m so glad that my first-ever fundraising event went smoothly and everyone enjoyed themselves. If you missed all the fun, don’t worry, I have a feeling this may turn into an annual event…

If you’d like to donate to Wildlife Rehabilitation Northwest Tucson, just click on the donate button, or send an old-fashioned check to Pima Federal Credit Union  P.O. Box 50267 Tucson, Arizona 85703. Please put Hiking in the memo, so they know where you heard about their facility. The rehab is entirely self-supported, so every dollar helps! It’s baby season at the rehab and we totally have our hands full of cute little critters. Here’s a baby Harris’ Antelope Squirrel enjoying his lunch of kale:

Harris' Antelope Squirrel munching on kale

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