Showdown In Rucker Canyon

A couple of days ago Bev and I drove north and east to the Chiricahua Mountains, a range of volcanic origin (some years ago) which is contained within one unit of the Coronado National Forest. We walked a few miles up Rucker Canyon, a beautiful spot enhanced by the lack of other people there.

A clear stream makes its way through a very rocky bed at the bottom of the canyon, and large Ponderosa Pines and Arizona Cypresses shaded the trail and were a balm to the eye.

Bev and I both took many photos that afternoon. After we got home, and after we had each uploaded the photo files to our respective computers, I remarked, “I brought home some nice images! I’ll have to work up a blog post about the walk.”

Bev said, “Well, I took some good photos too, and I was going to write a blog post!”

I replied, “I suppose we could both post about the same walk… I’ve never done that before.”

“We could make a contest out of the dual posts! Whoever gets the most comments wins!”, said Bev with a mischievous smile.

“Hmmm… competitive blogging. We could each provide links to the other’s post. If we included a funny Youtube video in each post they might go viral! Millions of viewers would read our stuff! Next we’d be appearing on the morning and late-night TV shows, and then they’d make a new event for the Olympics out of the new sport!”

Bev smiled wryly. “Yeah, Larry, fat chance of that happening, and truth to tell I don’t think I would enjoy such attention.”

The idea of a contest was just a joke, as neither of us are very competitive, but it occurred to me that if the two of us wrote parallel accounts of the same walk the results might be illuminating and interesting. The differences between our observations might highlight the very different ways in which we perceive what I’m fairly certain is the same world. So here’s my account:

We drove north and east from Bisbee through dry rangeland, the highway crossed occasionally by cattle-guards welded from old railroad rails. The ranches we drove through occupy the vast Sulphur Springs Valley, which extends from down in Mexico up into southern Arizona about fifty miles. It’s mostly flat scrubby desert with occasional areas of irrigated agriculture. Several mountain ranges rim the valley.

We turned off towards the east on a straight blacktop increasingly bordered by outcrop-capped hills. This area, which featured extensive patches of prickly pear cactus, is known as Leslie Canyon. The Chiricuaha Mountains, some of them snow-capped, loomed ever larger in front of us. Our destination was Rucker Canyon, a river-cut gash extending deep into the heart of the Chiricuahas. Two scenes from Leslie Canyon:

The first photo above shows a Soaptree Yucca, a characteristic sight in the area. The Apaches used the sap and pulp to make a soap-like substance. In the second photo notice how neatly the triangular wedge of granite fits into its socket. It took millions of years for that fit to get to be just right, a comfortable sliding fit.

We parked at a deserted campground next to the rocky stream which had carved the canyon and ate bread along with garbonzo/cauliflower salad.

As we walked up the trail which ran along the shallow stream, signs of a wildfire which happened last year were increasingly evident. Many cypress and juniper trunks were charred but the fire must have raced through the canyon quickly, as few trees had succumbed to the flames. The tall Ponderosa Pines seemed to have weathered the fire especially well due to thick plates of reddish bark characteristic of the species. Here’s a shot of a large Ponderosa Pine, followed by another photo of beads of sap which the heat had drawn from the living flesh of another pine:

I began to notice lupine plants emerging from beds of pine needles. The leaves were just flawless and they seemed to gleam with good health in the morning sun, plants perfectly suited to their place on this earth. Here’s a crop from one of my photos; click on the photo below if you want to see a high-resolution version of the entire uncropped frame. I’m experimenting with Dropbox as a simple way of storing full-size photos without using much of my WordPress disk-space allotment. Let me know if you would like to see more high-resolution versions of my photos.

I tend to get all involved with macro and cropped shots — I just realized that I haven’t shown the actual stream! Truth to tell, Bev’s stream shots are better — we each have our own strong points!

A recursive shot of Bev taking a picture of me — I can only hope that she doesn’t post the goofy shot of me she came home with!

Two more, and then I’m done with this post. I get weary of cropping and scaling photos sometimes! Here is a stream-side young tree which happened to germinate and grow in a rather confined and dark spot:

And here is a photo of the bark of a large Arizona Cypress tree. I was glad to make its acquaintance!

Take a look at the photo-laden post Bev wrote about the walk — yes, we were on the same walk!

Bev’s Showdown

I don’t think she’s quite done with her post, so check back a bit later if the link doesn’t work.




Filed under Arizona, Essays and Articles, Natural History, Photos, Plants

6 responses to “Showdown In Rucker Canyon

  1. Joan

    Well, I am splitting my vote here. I noticed that Bev had answered all of her commenters, so that would up your count, Larry, if you did that too. So far only one picture has appeared here, although it’s very warm fuzzy one. Is that a fuzzy succulent or a prickly one? What is it called?

  2. Joan, you jumped the gun, as Bev hadn’t posted her account when you commented, and mine was unfinished. There is explanatory text now which names the fuzzy plant as a lupine.

  3. bev

    Nice pics, Larry. I like the lupine shot linking to a larger sized file. Good idea.
    Fun to do a parallel post like this. Interesting to see what was similar and what was completely different.

  4. Joan

    OK..these are great.. I like both the macro and the larger shot of the plant. about the plant, though. Lupine because it’s fuzzy like a wolf? Lupine because wolves like to eat it? Am I going to have to look this up? (grin)
    I particularly like the barky picture with the sap oozing.

  5. Leslie

    So far I’ve read and enjoyed your post, Larry. I like having my own canyon, haha, and having prickly pears in it seems apt. Great photos (love the lupine and tree shots, plus the view of the canyon. Okay, I like them all!) John uses Dropbox to share photos with his brother. he likes it I think, and I enjoy seeing his and his brothers photos of owls and other birds. I look forward to Bev’s post, the more photos the better!

  6. Thanks, Leslie and Bev!

    Joan, the lupine was once thought to sap the soil of nutrients which might have been used by cultivated crops. A nutrient “wolf”, as it were, and an early European case of confusing correlation with causation.

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