The initial challenge at the start of our recent camping and seed-collecting trip was setting up our tents in a sustained 40 mph wind. We arrived late, close to 5pm, and had just a few hours of daylight remaining. Without a decent windbreak for miles in any direction, erecting the tents was like unfurling a ship’s sail, and it took all five of us deckhands to wrestle each one into position. We staked the corners and then moved onto the complex arrangements of poles.The assembly is different for every tent, and even without the wind, it’s more of an intellectual exercise than a practical one. I’m sure tent engineers laugh until strawberry daiquiris shoot out their nostrils at the annual Christmas party when they watch hidden videos of people like us trying to figure them out. [Read more…]
At the end of May 2013, I took the opportunity to drive an hour and a half from Boyce Thompson Arboretum to the trailhead of Aravaipa Canyon. For those of you unfamiliar with Aravaipa, it is a ten-mile-long canyon with an ever-flowing stream and lush green vegetation squeezed gently between imposing stone walls which are, in turn, outlined sharply by normally blue skies. In short, it’s paradise.
Hiking Aravaipa means that you are often wading ankle-deep in a creek. You splash upstream passing cottonwoods and sycamores, horsetail and cattail, listening to birds chattering away in the underbrush. Damsel flies hover silently along the water’s edge. Minnows swim quickly out of your path. And in the steeply rising hills you see saguaros standing precariously on crumbling rock. [Read more…]
It is that time of the summer when the “fungi hunter” in me needs to be freed. Arizona, being the arid place it mostly is, has relatively few places to hunt for mushrooms – namely the tallest mountains – and you have to wait for the right temperatures and rainfall to trigger mushroom availability.
I live in Superior which isn’t very close to any tree-lined mountain. I have to drive over an hour to be atop the Pinals or the Sierra Anchas. There are no weather reports that I’m aware of that will let me know if rain has fallen on those specific mountains. It can be raining in or around Globe and still, by some twisted poor luck, the Pinals will be dry as a bone. You probably don’t suffer from mycophilia, but those of us who do will take a chance on a dry mountain just to see if anything fungal is sprouting. We will go against logic. We will laugh off our doubts. [Read more…]