Yesterday Bev and I walked up a steep path towards the summit of Mt. Ballard, the highest peak of the Mule Mountains and the eighth-highest mountain in Cochise County, Arizona.
Sage, the sure-footed collie, accompanied us up the winding trail, which was surrounded by a spotty elfin forest of shrub oaks, manzanitas, madrones, and piñon pines. We passed through a large expanse of mountainside which had been burned in a wildfire a few years ago. New sprout and seedling growth was springing up but had only attained a height of two or three feet, leaving the view across the canyon unobstructed. Some photos:
Looking across the vast expanse of Sulphur Springs Valley the snow-capped peaks of the Chiricahua Mountains can be seen, a range we plan to hike into sometime soon.
The trunks of a tall succulent plant known as the Soaptree Yucca are normally shielded from view by the dry and dead remains of spent leaves, with the current leaves forming a starburst spray at the top of the trunk. The fire burned off the dead leaves and revealed charred but undamaged trunks marked with intriguing patterns of leaf-scars and the charred leaf-stubs:
It was a pleasant hike. We stopped along the way in a grove of manzanitas and ate spinach-feta cheese bread and avocados, while Sage greedily drank from an outstretched palm filled with water from a bottle.