Thursday, October 12, 2017

Another Jeep Adventure!

Well, it is October in Arizona, which means that the temperature has dropped below 100F - barely! After being back to Tucson (from Illinois) for over a week, it was time to get out of town for a drive. I still have Melinda's Jeep, so since it has been parked the last couple months, I thought it should get out on a day trip. I decided to redo a trip that Melinda and I had done almost 9 years ago shortly after she moved to Arizona - a drive out to a unique mountain, Baboquivari! Since the car was her daily driver, she got nervous when the road got a little rocky, and we turned around WAY early. Less chance of that happening today!

Anaglyph image - 3D pair of Kitt Peak from east
Anaglyph image- 3D pair of Kitt Peak from the SSE
The route from Tucson takes us out Ajo Way towards the SW, then turns south on the Sasabe Road at Robles Junction (Sometimes called Three Points). I've often been on this route when photographing sky objects in the west, as the silhouette of Kitt Peak National Observatory 12 miles to the west makes a fine foreground! I used the opportunity on Saturday to take some stereo pairs of the Observatory, taking image sets a couple hundred meters apart to show 3D effects at the distance of the mountain. Use the usual anaglyph red/blue glasses to see the 3D effect! While the image at left shows the usual profile one sees heading west towards the Observatory, the 3D image reveals the topography you don't usually see! As the road continues south and curves towards the west, you get a completely new vantage point of the mountain, as shown at right. Kitt Peak's top is sort of shaped like a "T" with the broad side on the south, and you can see this topography with a couple hundred meters separation. These pairs were taken with a 500mm lens out the car window, pulling over when there was a clear shot to the horizon...

Anaglyph image - 3D of Baboquivari over foothills
A few more miles and Baboquivari, which had been visible miles away, comes to dominate the western horizon. It is a spectacular mountain - the remaining lava plug from an ancient volcano. The anaglyph at left shows the peak towering over some of the foothills that surround it. The diagonal slash of green just above the foothills is a natural ledge (called Lion's Ledge) that forms a route across the sheer east face of the mountain. A lifetime ago, a Kitt Peak programmer (an experienced climber) led another employee and me across Lion's Ledge to climb that left side profile, called the "Southeast Arete". Never having been rock climbing before, I chickened out and met them back at the saddle on the north side, after they successfully summited and descended again. I've never been comfortable in highly exposed situations, and while I've climbed to the peak three times since, it was always on the easier Forbes route on the north and west sides...

Peak nears, road becomes a little sketchy!
The turn towards Baboquivari was near milepost 16 on the Sasabe road. The dirt road was near perfect condition, except for occasional small gullies that would have slammed your head on the roof of the Jeep if you didn't slow and didn't have your seatbelts on! It was about 8 miles to a locked gate, the road getting progressively worse as the peak became more and more impressive as it grew nearer! Really, only the last mile required 4WD in climbing out of a wash and a steep rocky hill beyond. Shortly after crossing a wash with actual standing water and deciduous trees showing some Fall colors, we came to the locked gate, the weeds growing on the route beyond indicating it is not open very often! But that is MUCH farther than Melinda let me go with her baby back in 2008! I took a photo of the Jeep and the gate with the peak in the background in celebration!

I didn't feel like hiking much beyond the gate and other than take a few stereo pairs didn't stay long. I had spotted a striking seed pod while climbing through the desert vegetation, the crimson seeds standing out against the browns and tans of late Fall. I took a photo of it against some striking pink metamorphic rock that I collected in a wash crossing.

I also collected a set of photos of the peak with the 300mm lens, zooming considerably into the slab, taking 13 frames to cover it down to the lower elevations. While the mosaic loses considerable power when reduced to the 1600 pixel wide limit of the blog, it still reveals lots of details in the sheer walls.

The return down the route seemed to go faster and the Jeep enjoyed returning to pavement in less than an hour. Like the trip in '08, returned via Arivaca and Amado to return to Tucson via I-19, arriving by sunset, making for a long, but memorable drive to some difficult-to-forget wilderness!


Anonymous said...

interesting you would find a random seed pod of sophora secundiflora out there at that location. while an ornamental tree/shrub native to texas, (aka texas mountain laurel) the bright red seeds are attractive, and also very poisonous.

Andrea Johnson said...

I need 3d glasses!

Dean said...

I got 'yer 3D glasses right here! We should cross paths to get them to you!

The seed pods were all that was left on a bush of multiple single stalks, with several other pods still attached. No leaves were present, evidently having fallen weeks earlier.


Anonymous said...

interesting, possibly a random planting by some critter or bird. definitely not native to that area