I went for a January pre winter storm (in Tucson read: rainstorm) hike in the Tucson Mountains. Cactus spines and arms stood out in front of the approaching clouds.
Cactus Top and Clouds, Tucson Mountains, AZ (12″x18″)
Saguaro Cacti in the Clouds, Tucson Mountains, AZ (12″x18″)
I decided to turn my King Canyon trail hike into a loop, returning along the Gould Mine Trail. Multi-colored tailing piles slide down the hillsides, and saguaro cacti stand watch around this abandoned building above the old mine.
Last month, I walked up the King Canyon trail in Saguaro National Park West (Tucson Mountain District). On the saddle below Wasson Peak, I stopped to photograph a few of the small cacti and the high, wispy cirrus clouds. Here is a vertical panorama of a baby saguaro and the surrounding prickly pear cacti.
Here are a few more panoramas from the Ironwood Forest National Monument. One of my favorite parts of this hike and scramble was watching the clouds’ shadows slide across the desert landscape below Ragged Top.
This February I visited Saguaro National Park West to photograph the petroglyphs around Signal Hill. A mid-winter rainstorm rolled through while I was exploring the Hill and surrounding washes; I tried to take a few panoramas with the rain clouds in the background. In some place, the human effect on the landscape is so ephemeral, but here in the desert even small rock carvings can remain for centuries.
Camino de Oeste trailhead (a part of the Yetman trail system) begins in the Tucson Mountains just west of the city. I head out to the area for a trail run or an evening walk whenever I get the chance. Here are a few long-exposure photographs of the wash after dark. I particularly liked the way the relatively stationary stars anchored the sky behind the fast-moving clouds.
I drove through Saguaro National Park West and the Tucson Mountain Park for the first time in early January. As a Tucson resident, I am accustomed to seeing desert plants scattered around the city, but the number of cacti in Saguaro NP West is staggering. Giant saguaros grow right up to the bases of the Tucson Mountain Park cliffs, creating a forest of towering green cacti. I stopped around sunset to take two panoramas of the moonrise over the Tucson Mountains, one as the sun cast a golden glow on the cliffs, the other just after sunset.
Winter storms pound the southeast and northeast with snow, and here in Tucson we get a nice upper atmospheric ridge that suppresses all our moisture. I know, sunny and 85F in February sounds great, but we depend on our winter rains; so far I think I can count one or two small rain storms. While walking around Catalina State Park on one of those rare rainy days last month, I took this vertical panorama of one of my favorite old saguaros. It’s pockmarked and scarred, but somehow majestic as it towers over the trail. I also included a long-exposure photograph I took last winter of the top of the same saguaro as the clouds streamed by in the background.