Monday, January 23, 2012

Today's Hike in 3D!

I haven't had a 3D stereo post in a while, so thought it was about time.  No movies struck my interest today, and Melinda was sleeping after working last night, so did a few miles on the Finger Rock Canyon trail.  After parking at the north end of Alvernon, and a short walk past the expensive houses, you reach something close to wilderness.  The first few miles are pretty flat and has some pretty spectacular scenery, so this trail is just about my favorite walk to "get away from it all".  I've posted about Finger Rock before - quite the distinctive landmark from the entire Tucson valley...

Unfortunately today, as we are at or very near the peak of winter visitor season, the parking lot was overflowing.  After parking illegally and hitting the trail, there were LOTS of folks that had the same idea.  It was ok - I still had a few minutes of solitude at a time, and had suitable inspiration to take some stereo pics.  As usual, I present the "cross-eyed" view - cross your eyes slightly to see  3 images, the center one in 3D. 

To start off are a couple views of the trail itself, with "the Finger" in the background.  Since we're in the middle of winter and my walk was pretty much at high noon with temps in the low 70s, there weren't many shadows to help bring out details in the terrain.  I apologize in advance...  The trail is easy to follow, though frequently crosses rocky sections where you need to look ahead to see where it picks up.  LOTS of saguaro cacti and prickly pear, cholla is less common.  A few miles up the trail there is abundant cottonwood in the bottom of the canyon.

Another not-so-good thing I saw a lot of were dead saguaros - more than I remember from years past.  We had some brutal cold weather a year ago, temps in the teens, barely recovering above freezing.  Saguaros are quite sensitive to temps and rainfall, and have adapted to local conditions and extremes can take a toll.  It also takes time for a sick or diseased cactus to show symptoms, so here a year later they finally getting obvious.  They can also get struck by lightning, acting as natural lightning rods in the summer storms, but again - there are more of them than normal, so I suspect last year's temps.  This one shows the internal skeleton at the bottom, the upper part still shows some of the outer skin.

Looking across the canyon to the eastern wall were a nice array of the plants growing out of the rugged, rocky cliff faces.  It is quite amazing how these huge cacti can grow out of what appears to be solid rock.  I guess all it takes is a single crack for a root to penetrate.  With time, if the plant survives and grows, the root similarly can force the crack open and help fracture the rock.  Also frequently visible were many small saguaros a foot or so high.  While you might think that a small one might be a few years old, they grow extremely slowly - the 14" specimen shown here adjacent to the trail might likely be 25 years old.  Realize too that they don't reach maturity and start flowering till about 75 years of age.  The 40 foot dead one above might well have been 150 years old.  Interestingly, most of the small surviving saguaros like the youngster shown here grow under a "nurse plant", typically a mesquite tree, which helps protect it in it's early years.  After a few decades, the tree dies and then the cactus grows to maturity.

I hadn't meant for this to be a saguaro cactus post, so I'll move on.  There were other plants, of course, most are dormant this time of year.  I say most because there was some greenery from the unlikeliest of plants - ocotillo!  They are mostly dormant during the short days of winter, but as in the summer months, after a rain, leaves can pop out quickly to start photosynthesis for energy reserves.  While we've had little rain this winter, evidently we've had enough to trigger the ocotillo to flower.  I also shot the prickly pear at right, just because long needles look so cool in 3D!  Note that there are a combination of long and short spines.  Even the prickly pear species that look spineless likely have tiny clusters of short fine spines that will come off if you brush them.  Personally, I'd rather have one or two of the big spines poking me than 20 or 30 of the little hairlike spines that you can barely see and have a hard time getting out!

Well, that was my Sunday hike - a couple miles in and then back.  Enough to get a little exercise and sun and scenery to chase the wintertime blues.  I apologize in advance for any headaches caused for making you cross your eyes, but it really is the easiest way for viewer-free fusing of images.  Comments always welcome for your successes or failures in seeing the 3D.  If you want more - go down and check the "3D" subject down on the right to bring up past posts.  Good  luck!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good photos. surprised to see so much "blue" in the skies for photos taken this sunday. I did some alone time trekking myself, out to the desert museum and beyond on sunday and the skies were full of dust and haze, as far as the eye could see from sun up to about 3pm