We scrambled and boulder-hopped onto a small ridge above camp to watch the sun set over the Rincon Mountains. Rock Prow at Sunset, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (12″x18″)
A texture-focused photograph of the exfoliating bedrock and clouds east of Rincon Peak in southeastern Arizona.
Exfoliations and Clouds, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (12″x18″)
Just east of the Rincon Mountains and Mescal Road (Forest Road 35), a second, shorter series of hills pokes up from the desert floor. From a satellite view, I could see waves of rock with nearly parallel fissures running NW-SE through the hills. Sediment is draped over parts of the exposed bedrock like a blanket. This spring, we camped near a stream bed and spent the day exploring the landscape of shattered rock and high desert grass and cacti. I took a series of photographs of the exfoliating bedrock that appears as if it is shedding its old skin.
Exfoliating Rock Slab, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (16″x50″)
Exfoliating Rock and Clouds, east of Rincon Peak, AZ (16″x37″)
After visiting the Upper Tanque Verde Falls in February (see previous week’s post), I hiked up to the Lower Falls in March. The hike to the Lower Falls allowed for a bit of exploration and boulder hopping, but I preferred to photograph the clearly delineated cliff striations at the Upper Falls. After using an ND filter to make the water flatten out, I was able to walk away with at least one good panorama of the Lower Falls.
Glassy Water and Lower Tanque Verde Falls, near Tucson, AZ (16″x54″)
While photographing Tanque Verde Falls, the striations in the rock kept drawing my attention. I tried to get in close to the cliff face to use the striped rock to both frame the falls and lead the viewer’s eye towards the cascading water.
Striations and Tanque Verde Falls, near Tucson, AZ (16″x36″)
After taking a few photographs of Tanque Verde Falls from above, I tried to get below the falls to photograph the water from below. I made the main focus of the three-frame vertical panorama the small cascade at my feet, but I tried to capture the larger falls in the upper right corner of the composition.
Looking Up at Upper Tanque Verde Falls, near Tucson, AZ (16″x15″)
Last February, I took a late winter walk out to the upper portion of Tanque Verde Falls. After scrambling around on the rock shelves for a few minutes, I found a spot that allowed me to photograph both the cascading water and the striations in the cliff face.
Looking Down on Upper Tanque Verde Falls (color), near Tucson, AZ (16″x32″)
Looking Down on Upper Tanque Verde Falls (B&W), near Tucson, AZ (16″x32″)
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″)
When I stepped off the plane from Nepal in late June, it was about 110F (~40C) here in southern Arizona. Fortunately, the monsoon started soon after I arrived. After work one evening I drove up to the top of Sentinel Peak (near downtown Tucson) and shot a few panoramas of the lumbering monsoon storms as they approached from the south.
Monsoon Storm from Sentinel Peak #2, Tucson Mountains, AZ (16″x74″)
Two hours north of Tucson along Arizona State Route 77, a small turnoff dumps you out onto a dirt road that winds up into the hilly desert. The southern Arizona climbing community has created a series of trails and low-impact camping sites so climbers can unobtrusively set up a tent and climb in the limestone canyon known as ‘The Homestead’. The limestone cracks and overhangs in this area are a fun alternative to climbing the granite and schist of Mt Lemmon.
Homestead Canyon Cliffs, Gila County, AZ (16″x54″)
Far off the Ground at Homestead Canyon, Gila County, AZ (16″x44″)
Early in March, I hiked up the Ventana Canyon trail to Ventana Arch and back down through Sabino Canyon. Here are a few panoramas I took on the way up to the Arch.
Ventana Arch, Cliff, Hills, and Sky, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x53″)
Maiden Pools Rocks and Cacti, Ventana Canyon, AZ (16″x50″)
The southwest-facing cliff at The Ruins crag provides a great location for a pleasant day of winter climbing in southern Arizona. I wanted to capture the full size of the rock face, a little foreground at the base, and the mountains fading into the distance off to the south (right), so I ended up stitching together a series of stacked photographs for this double-tall panorama.
The Ruins Cliff, Coronado National Forest, AZ (20″x40″)
While climbing in January near the base of Mt Lemmon, I stopped at the mouth of a small canyon to take this vertical panorama of the rock, vegetation, and clouds.
Bush and Winter Clouds, Coronado National Forest, AZ (16″x38″)
Early in January, I spent a few days near Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. I always enjoy the scenery along Arizona 85 and Mexico 8. On this trip, I stopped along Mexico 8 and took a few photographs of the road and surrounding desert and mountains. I’ll post more from the coast in the coming weeks.
Road to Puerto Penasco, near Sonoyta, Mexico (12″x18″)
Mountains from Mexico 8 Highway, near Sonoyta, Mexico (16″x70″)
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.
While the rest of my group hiked up the river, I spent about half an hour standing knee-deep in water photographing ripples and a small rapid in the Aravaipa River. Here is one of my favorite angles on the water and rocks.
Aravaipa Flowing Water, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, AZ (16″x56″)
Last weekend, I took a day trip to the Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness to hike up the first few miles of the 11-mile Aravaipa Canyon. Cottonwoods, cat tails, and reeds line the water as it snakes through the surrounding saguaro cacti and ocotillo of the Sonoran Desert, and 1,000-foot canyon walls rise up on either side of the lush riparian area. Although conglomerate and volcanic rocks form the cliff walls, from a distance this part of southern Arizona reminds me of the Canyonlands and Zion.
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.
Ragged Top pokes out of the desert floor in the Ironwood Forest National Monument between Picacho Peak and Tucson. From a distance, the hike up to the top appears technical, but the most difficult part of the climb is avoiding all of the spiky plants and loose rock. Off trail in the desert, every step must be taken carefully- cholla buds, cactus limbs, and cat claw branches are scattered across the landscape. Here are two of my favorite panoramas from near the top of Ragged Top.