In Bisbee: a hike, and a change of plans - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 12, 2021

In Bisbee: a hike, and a change of plans

It’s ten degrees cooler today, with winds up to 20 mph predicted by midday.  We had a few ride ideas under consideration, but with this weather nothing sounds more appealing than another hike.  I draw a loop up through the Mule Mountains behind town, Rachael loads it to our Garmin devices, and we set off.  It’s cool, overcast and grey when we start walking about 10.

Our route this time starts with a trail that angles up the western face of the hill penning up Bisbee to the east.  We get good views of the town as we gradually gain elevation.  It’s a long, thin town, a three mile-long snake strung through a narrow, steep sided canyon.  Seen from above, it’s interesting imagining it when it was one of the largest cities in the west a century ago.

This trail is quite different than the one we followed before.  Steeper, fainter, harder to follow.  The GPS representation isn’t quite accurate, and in a few places we lose it and have to double back looking for what we missed.  In places it’s quite steep, and we’re scrambling up a rocky  scree-like surface.  I’m glad I’ve brought my hiking pole, and Rachael wishes she’d brought one as well. 

The Bisbee Brownstone meets the hood of the Raven.
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With time, I’m sure it would be worth exploring all of these old streets here leading into the hills.
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Looking down on Lower Bisbee, just above the start of the mines.
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In quite a few spots this feels more like a climb than a hike.
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Phyllo yucca donut.
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From higher up, looking down on the upper end of the town.
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After about a slow mile of this the trail flattens out considerably, and is more like a normal hike again.  Views open up, the sun starts breaking through, and for the next hour or two we enjoy a wonderful walk, climbing up to the top of a knoll, dropping back down, and climbing another.  It turns into a really magnificent hike.

It’s become more of a pleasant walk than a scramble.
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These almost barren hills remind me of scenes in the John Day county.
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The long view, south into Mexico.
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On top of the world, looking down on creation.
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A quartz seam crosses the path.
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The view east across Sulfur Springs Basin. We saw this vista two days back, but the lighting is more interesting this time.
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Image not found :(
A great spot for a panorama.
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The route I’ve mapped out is a loop with about a mile long out and back tail at the high end.  When we get to the turnoff to this spur, Rachael walks ahead on her own while I slow down and look around more, especially at the vegetation.  We’re up at about 6,200’, and the plant life is amazingly diverse.  Manzanita is probably the dominant species, but there’s juniper, oak and a bit of pine mixed in, as well as a variety of cacti: yucca, prickly pear, ocotillo, cholla.  And that’s just what I recognize.  A real botanist would have a field day up here.

Suddenly I hear a crack in the woods, not far off.  A group of three deer are making it up the draw, going my way off about a hundred yards to the right.  I’m not sure if it’s a mother and twins, or three youngsters.  They’re cautious but not terribly skittish, and I get a nice look at them.

One of a family of three.
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I walk on and soon Rachael appears, on her way back.  She starts talking about what she’s seen, but I immediately shush her.  If we’re quiet, maybe they’ll appear again.  And they do, still moving our direction; so she gets to appreciate them too.

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They move on, and soon Rachael does as well.  This walk has gone a lot slower than Rachael imagined, with all the scrambling at first.  She only brought a few small snacks, and is interested in getting back to the apartment for lunch.  The rest of the way is easy - a gradual descent, on the same route we followed two days back; so she goes off on her own while I take my time.

The day turns into one of those times when everything seems of interest to me - the sky, the land, the vegetation - everything is vibrant and amazing.  I walk a short ways, stop to take a shot of the landscape, walk fifty yards and stop again for the same shot because the light is just different.  I stop for a photo of a dead yucca, intrigued by the bluish color of its rotting blades; see another one, and stop for that one too.  Very slow going.

An interesting sky today. We’re being invaded by a starship.
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Yucca and ocotillo.
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Manzanita, juniper, some variety of pine, and what I assume is an oak.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI think it is an oak. There are quite a few similar looking species in that area.
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2 weeks ago
And what’s this? A lot of this up here too.
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Bill ShaneyfeltHard to tell for sure. Possibly sand sagebrush?

https://cals.arizona.edu/yavapaiplants/SpeciesDetailForb.php?genus=Artemisia&species=filifolia
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2 weeks ago
Three views of the yucca.
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Bill ShaneyfeltThose large, fleshy leaves with recurved spikes lead me to believe this is an agave. Likely Palmer's agave.

https://www.fireflyforest.com/flowers/69/agave-palmeri-palmers-century-plant/
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltActually I thought it was an agave too. But I was sure if I said so you’d say it was just another soap yucca.
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2 weeks ago
Bill ShaneyfeltChuckle! The leaves are key. Heavy leaves are agave. Both have species with recurved spines on the leaves, but yuccas are smaller & thinner.

You do much better than most on your nature IDs and better than I do on many trees. Keep up the good work!
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2 weeks ago

And then, a mile and a half from home, a mystery - why am I suddenly falling face forward toward the rocky ground, a cholla in my landing pad?    Not good.  I can’t quite recreate how this happened, but it’s something to do with the pitch of the descent, my pole, and my posture.  I think I must have gotten myself ahead of my pole and then pivoted across it; or maybe it was misplanted and slipped into a crack in the rocks, suddenly throwing me off balance. 

In any case, it’s not good.  I do my best to break my fall, hoping to protect important body parts while avoiding rock and cactus.  I’m not sure of how I’ve done at first as I lie there on the ground and assess the damage.  Am I seriously injured?   Is anything broken?  Will I be able to walk out?  An uncomfortable feeling, both mentally and physically.

Gradually I ease myself back up, trying to find reasonable spots on the ground to plant my hands and push myself up.  As it turns out I’ve done pretty well, considering.  I’ve got quite minor scrapes in a few spots, but nothing is openly bleeding.  I’ve collected a fair number of cholla spines in my thigh, and when I finally make it home Rachael finds the tweezers and I entertain myself by extracting about fifty of them one painful tug at a time.  The main concern is my left foot though, which isn’t quite right.  It’s my big toe, and later in the day Rachael and I will examine it, swollen and turning a deep plum shade, do some research, and try to decide whether it’s broken or ‘just’ sprained.

It’s still a mile and a half back to the apartment, and it’s a slow, cautious uncomfortable walk downhill the rest of the way.  I carry my Garmin in my hand (rather than keeping it in my pocket, where it was painfully rubbing against my thigh’s cholla thorn collection), checking it often and measuring off my progress, one hundredth of a mile at a time.

So how am I?  I’m not sure yet.  We’ll know better in the morning, but one way or another this will affect our plans in some way.  The only real concern is the toe, but I suspect I won’t be seeing too much activity for a few days at least.

You think I feel bad? What about this poor cholla, standing there minding its own business when some big ugly lunk lands on him. Life is so full of hazards, no matter who you are.
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Kelly IniguezI"hopeful for your condition in the morning, as you can still see the humor in the situation. Recover well, my friend.
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2 weeks ago
Bill ShaneyfeltFeeling for you! Got some cholla like that as a kid... hard pulling out those spines! It took pliers to pull mine out. Hope they don't get infected. Mine were inflamed for nearly a week.
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2 weeks ago
Suzanne GibsonYikes, hazards everywhere! I hope you have a quick recovery.
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2 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauMr. Cholla has a story with a simple plot.
He sits by a trail and sees hikers a lot,
Most of them are kind
So he doesn't mind,
Until the day he got attacked by a Scott.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauTouché!
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanOh, Scott, so sorry for you. I cringe at the thought of all those spines in you, not to mention your sprained toe.
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2 weeks ago
Nearing the end of the trail, and almost back to the road. Only a bit more than a half mile to go. The point of the photo though is to show the small dam across the dry creek bed. There are quite a few of these up here, presumably for erosion and flood control.
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It’s slow going, but I can still stop for a photo of the Pythian Castle, built in 1904 as the center for a fraternal lodge.
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I didn’t really need this at the end of the walk.
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A nice little crop there. It wasn’t easy tweezing the thorns out, trying to avoid also pulling out leg hairs with them. The one shown in the inset was one of the longest, and almost fully embedded. I’m not sure about the red coloration, but I think it’s the color of the thorn itself.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMade me cringe! I still feel those spines! If the tips break off, they will fester out. Not as bad as it sounds.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI’m sure I’ve got some embedded in me, especially around my waist where I brushed them off at first and probably broke some tops off. At least they’re straight spined though and not so difficult to extract like the jumping cholla that attacked me years ago.
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2 weeks ago
Bruce LellmanAhhh! This looks so awful! I'm so sorry! Will this increase your wine or beer consumption temporarily? It would mine.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanCertainly not! I’m much too self-disciplined to indulge myself like that.
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2 weeks ago
Jen GrumbyStill catching up after the power outage.

OUCH!!

So sorry you went through this.
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1 week ago
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Hiking stats: 7.5 miles, 1,700’, 1 accident.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 9
Steve Miller/GrampiesDo you have these mishaps on purpose to provide interesting material for the blog? If so, thank you but not really necessary. If not, ouch, poor you.
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2 weeks ago
Suzanne GibsonI second Steve - ouch, poor you.
How about walking with two poles, seriously, I am not trying to be funny. Janos walked all of the Camino de Santiago with two poles, not really popular then, and had to put up with remarks like "where are your skis", which didn't deter him. The two poles really saved his knees.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYes, I’ve got a list of catastrophes stored up to enact to add spice to the journal. I try to space them out for use at a suitable time.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonI have two, but one really seems sufficient at this point and I much prefer to keep a hand free. I just need to work on my technique a bit, or maybe wear armor.
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2 weeks ago
Kathleen ClassenKeith and I hike with two poles, always. Our oldest son and his wife, both just 36, who are heavily into adventure sports and are climbers...I mean the kind of climbing that is mind blowing (and worrying to the parental unit) hike with poles at all times. If it is good enough for them, it is good enough for me. The poles have saved me more times than I care to count. I highly recommend it for those of us who don’t bounce as well as we used to.
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2 weeks ago
Patrick O'HaraHope you're quickly on the mend, Scott. I hope the big toe is not broken.
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2 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetHaving acquired hiking poles, I always carry them now. Better to have them with me when I need them. And then I use both. If I need to use my hands, I stow the poles.
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2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetDo you carry them when you’re on bicycle tour also?
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2 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonNo, not yet at least.

But I would if I were touring car-based. I haven’t taken a backpack on a bike tour yet; we were planning to do some hiking in the Dolomites on the trip that got cancelled but hadn’t got far enough in our planning to decide whether we’d take actual backpacks or the converter gizmos we have for our panniers. And for only two to four days of hiking in 8 weeks, I doubt poles would make the cut. We were going to bring actual walking shoes, though.
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2 weeks ago