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Posts Tagged ‘Elf Owl’

Canyoneering Montrose Canyon- December 20th, 2014

I had been swamped with work and needing to get out, so when Russ put out a call for folks to go canyoneering, I jumped on the chance. There had been a big winter storm and while most would avoid canyons flowing with snowmelt in December, I was willing to brave cold temps for the reward of seeing this place I’d looked down upon on my way to Romero Pools. Immediately out of the parking lot, the big wash was running and we knew the canyon was going to have a great flow.

We hiked the Romero Canyon Trail to the ridge that separates Montrose from Romero canyons and had a short bushwhack down to the creekbed. Took a break to gear up- I hoped my 3/2 wetsuit was enough for the icy waters. It was a beautiful day and bright golden ash trees dotted the canyon. My waterproof camera has a cracked screen and wasn’t too happy about being submerged, so the pics are all from Dan’s camera.

Montrose Canyon 1st Rappel- Photo by Dan Kinler

Montrose Canyon 1st Rappel- Photo by Dan Kinler

Montrose Canyon- Photo by Dan Kinler

Montrose Canyon- Photo by Dan Kinler

Photo by Dan Kinler

Photo by Dan Kinler

The canyon wasn’t terribly narrow, but still very attractive. We made our way through polished granite boulders and pools filled with amber-colored Catalina tea. The tannins in the water made it hard to see the depth.There were three rappels and quite a few mandatory swims. We had sun to warm up after the first rappel, but it eluded us the rest of the day- just around the next corner. It was a really fun day out, if a little chilly. It was worth it to see and hear all the water.

Montrose Canyon 2nd Rappel- Photo by Dan Kinler

Montrose Canyon 2nd Rappel- Photo by Dan Kinler

Beautiful Fall Colors in Montrose Canyon- Photo by Dan Kinler

Beautiful Fall Colors in Montrose Canyon- Photo by Dan Kinler

Photo by Dan Kinler

Photo by Dan Kinler

Montrose Canyon Slide- Photo by Dan Kinler

Montrose Canyon Slide- Photo by Dan Kinler

Gneiss! -Photo by Dan Kinler

Gneiss! -Photo by Dan Kinler

One nice thing about this canyon is that it is a very short distance out of the canyon to the Montrose Canyon bench, then an easy flat mile back to the car. We opted to hike out in our wetsuits and harnesses, garnering a couple of interested looks on the way. I had really missed canyoneering, there’s nothing like having all the waterfalls and pools to yourself while the trail above is swarming with people on a Saturday. Love it!

Hiking out in our gear- Photo by Dan Kinler

Hiking out in our gear- Photo by Dan Kinler

In Wildlife Rehabilitation news, our educational elf owls might become famous soon! There’s talk of them being filmed for a TV special. I’ll post an update when I know more. Donate and help feed these cuties so they look good for their close-up!
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Elf Owl

Elf Owl

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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 last night’s unexpected bonfire with the people from Dudleyville, I awoke early in the morning to see that there was mist rising up from the wash. Putnam Spring is a warm spring, and it was hitting the cold air and making the wash look amazing!

Near Putnam Spring

Today’s walk was mostly on roads or in washes or on a road in a wash. There was no worries about navigation, and the walking was easy in Putnam Wash. After Putnam Spring, the walls of the wash closed in a bit and became more and more beautiful as I hiked east. I just love when anything grows from solid rock- like this saguaro who is wearing a silly hat and pointing the way:

Colorful Rocks in Putnam Wash

"This way, madame"

Before long, I was at the San Pedro River, and I changed into my camp shoes to ford the ankle-deep San Pedro River. The river was a beautiful place, with sycamores just starting to leaf out.

Sycamores along the San Pedro

San Pedro River

After a refreshing ford of the San Pedro, I reached the Hwy 77 underpass and the end of my first segment of the Grand Enchantment Trail. I really didn’t want to walk on asphalt, so I chose to stay in Aravaipa wash instead of taking Aravaipa Road. It is a broad wash that is alternately sandy and rocky and at about the second mile of sinking into sand, I began to wonder if asphalt wouldn’t have been a wiser choice. It was just me and some cows in the wash, and I put on some music to pass the time.

Sandy wash walk, looking west, back the way I came

Antelope Peak, where I started the day before

It was getting warm, and the wash was really exposed, so put on my umbrella. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics from this trip of my umbrella, but here’s one from another hike, so you get the idea:

Umbrella in the Grand Canyon

After what seemed like forever, I reached the point where I was able to exit the wash onto Aravaipa Road, which is a dirt road in this area. The roadwalk wasn’t too bad, just a little warm and exposed. As I was starting to get hot and uncomfortable, a truck stopped to ask if I was ok. (I get that a lot, hiking by myself) The driver introduced himself as Langdon, and said he owned a ranch in the area. We chatted for a bit, and then he asked me if I would like a cold beer. This is what is known in the hiking community as “Trail Magic”. It’s a beautiful thing. I enjoyed the heck out of the frosty Tecate before hiking on.

The remainder of the road was very scenic, and not very heavily traveled on the day I was hiking. I passed by all sorts of ranches and farms before coming to the Brandenburg Ranger Station, on the side of beautiful Brandenburg Mtn.

First glimpse of the good stuff ahead

Who is Abe White and why does he get such a tiny bridge?

Aravaipa Farms

Brandenburg Ranger Station

After the ranger station, the road dipped back down to follow Aravaipa Creek and I crossed this one-lane “Bailey Bridge”

One lane "Bailey Bridge"

Me and my umbrella on a portion of Aravaipa Rd. paved with these interesting bricks

Finally, after a total of 16 miles for the day, I reached my car that had been dropped at the Aravaipa West Trailhead. Man, I cannot wait to go through Aravaipa Canyon on the Grand Enchantment Trail. It is called “The Grand Canyon of the Sonoran Desert” and the beautifully colored cliffs gave a preview of what is to come when I hike the next segment. I will be waiting for warmer temps to do that piece, however, because Aravaipa is considered a water hike. There is no trail, and you have to wade in the stream for a great deal of the time- much too cold for now, better saved for late spring.

Aravaipa Creek- click to enlarge

I feel so lucky to be able to hike a new long-distance trail and had a great time on what was really a connector segment- I can’t wait to get into the numerous wilderness areas- Superstition, Aravaipa, Santa Teresas, Mount Graham, Gila, and many more on the Grand Enchantment Trail.

And now, for the “featured animal” from the Miller’s Wildlife Rehab Fundraiser- “Elfie” the elf owl, one of the Miller’s educational animals. The Miller’s are available to speak to groups that are interested in their educational programs. If you would like to have Elfie and his pals out for an educational program for your group in the Tucson area, please call (520) 743-0217.

"Elfie" the Elf Owl

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So, now that I am done with my Arizona Trail talk at Summit Hut, it is now time to concentrate on my planning for my Grand Enchantment Trail hike. I normally hike solo, which on a long trail translates into having to find shuttles so that I don’t have to retrace my steps back to my car. Thankfully, I have always been able to find generous souls to help me out.

The big news this week is that Arizona was hit by one heck of a storm system this week that dumped a significant amount of snow at higher elevations. I am very happy about this storm. Recent times have been very dry- our monsoon rains were only half of normal levels. Dry weather makes for difficult backpacking conditions, requiring long, heavy carries of water, 8.3 lbs. to the gallon. Last fall, I had to reschedule a couple of backpacking trips due to lack of water sources. I will be happily drinking this storm in the coming months.

Rocks in Whitford Canyon on the AZT/GET

The planning for this hike is much easier. First of all, I have all my gear already- no need to spend countless hours comparing gear and such. (however, I will share a great website for doing so: www.spadout.com) Second, the GET website and mapset are in easy-to-use format. For the AZT, I had to generate my own maps using the TOPO program. With the GET, you order the maps off the website and all the work has been done for you. The most important difference, however, is that when I started hiking the AZT it was only my third backpacking trip EVER. Now, I have 800 miles of mostly-solo Arizona Trail under my belt.

I’ve refined my meals, learned not to overpack, know what to do if I get off-track, and understand that it is a somewhat physical, but mostly mental challenge to hike a long trail. I know that the right song on a tough day can completely change my mood around. I have vast loneliness coping skills. I learned about many different things that had nothing to do with hiking- how to run a website, a fundraiser, and how to spread the word.

And now for another cute animal from the Wildlife Rehab- an 4-inch elf owl that came to us when it was very young:

The Elf Owl is the smallest in N. America

Your donation of $10 will feed:

  • One Hawk or one owl for one week
  • Seed eating birds for three weeks
  • Several mammals for two weeks

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