Wolf Moon - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

January 28, 2021

Wolf Moon

Did you know that January’s full moon is known as the Wolf Moon?  Me neither.  Rocky acquainted me with this charming bit of trivia.  I had already been planning to watch for the moonrise this evening, but knowing that it would be a Wolf Moon reinforced my resolve.  

Over morning coffee Team Anderson discusses how to make the best use of the day’s weather and marry it with a full moon quest and come up with the plan to take an afternoon hike through Saguaro National Park.  At the end we’ll watch the sunset (due at 5:52 PM today) and then turn around to await the moonrise (due at 5:57) over the Rincon Mountains.

We leave home about one and arrive at the visitor’s center a half hour later.  After making good use of the facilities there we drive to the northern trailhead of the Cactus Forest Trail, an easy flattish route that traverses the paved loop through the park.  For a nice change, we didn’t forget to bring along any of the essentials.  I have hiking shoes this time; I have one of my new poles, properly locked into its full extension; and I have my thankfully unbroken camera.  The hike is on!

Heading south on the Cactus Forest Trail.
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We’re barely a quarter mile into the hike when Rachael excitedly announces that she’s spotted yet another crested saguaro, about halfway up a short rise.  Great spotting - it’s not that obvious or easy to see from the trail and blends in with the slope behind it.  We scramble off-trail through the sand and mesquite scrub to get a better view.

On the way up the short slope I set down my pole in a small clearing, so I’ll have my hands free with the camera.  Ten minutes later I have a brief panicky moment when I can’t find it again, and wonder if I’ve lost it after only a quarter mile of use.

My crested saguaro lady. Someone should paint a mural of her.
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Jen GrumbyLady of Crested Saguaro is she
With her cactus friend doing tai chi
They both look so agile
In the desert so fragile
A scene that is really artsy*!

*pronounced art-SEE
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1 month ago
It’s partly overcast at the moment so the lighting isn’t the best. It’s an out and back hike, so we’ll watch for it again on the way back to the car.
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A mile into the hike we come to a short spur, the Lime Falls trail.  I’d built this into our GPS route after reading a description of it.  It’s a nice little detour, a bit of a scramble, and best after rainfall has charged the normal dry wash and fall.  

It is a nice little trail, but the small bit of rain and snow that fell two nights back wasn’t enough to change much.  There are a few small puddles along the way, but that’s it.

On the Lime Falls Trail.
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On the Lime Falls Trail. We’re walking up the shallow wash here, which supposedly must see water at times.
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The trail continues just past a small rocky area that must be the famous falls - actually, even if there were water it looks like this would be better named the Lime Rivulet Trail because it only drops about ten feet.  Rachael has gotten ahead here and has continued up further, off trail but following the rocks for a better view.  I join her and we decide to keep going, following the path of least resistance.  It isn’t apparent which way is least difficult, so we diverge and scout out two different routes, keeping each other within eyesight.

We were thinking we’d just get off the basin floor a bit for a better view, but when I look at the map I see that we’re not really that far from the paved road.  If we keep climbing we’ll intersect the road near the Javelina Rocks formation that we’d like to get a better look at.  I keep going, and finally conclude it looks doable.  I holler to Rachael to come up my way, and we cactus-whack our way up the slope following what might be javelina tracks where we can find them.  A half mile later and relatively unscarred, we reach the road and pause to dump sand out of our shoes.

Great views, but where’s Rachael? She’s down in there, but a bit hard to spot.
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Oh, good.
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Back in civilization again. We’re saved!
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So the new plan is to follow the paved road for about a mile, stopping along the way at Javelina Rocks for a look around.  Eventually the road intersects with the Cactus Forest Trail at its south trailhead, so we’ll hop back on it there and trek north back to the car.

When we arrive at the parking area for Javelina Rocks, a small drama is unfolding.  A young couple is sitting on the curb holding a slip of yellow paper, looking up at a park ranger politely explaining their situation to them.  He places their driver’s license, phone and keys to the car on the roof of their vehicle, tells them to be safe, and then drives off.  As we walk up the short trail through the rock formation, we hear a whiny complaint from behind us: “Oh, man!  Just for some f***ing weed!

The views are stunning.  It was well worth the scramble to get up here.

The view from Javelina Rocks.
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The view from Javelina Rocks.
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New hiking pole! Actually, it helps a lot, especially on rocky scrambles. And it gives me something to do with my hands when posing for a photo.
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Back on the Cactus Forest Trail again, we walk back north to the car.  It’s two and a half miles off, which will put us at our vehicle at not long before sundown.  Perfect timing!   And it’s a perfect time to be walking here, with the desert foliage vibrant in the late-day light.

Northbound on the Cactus Forest Trail again.
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You’ve been seeing a lot of this species, but we’re in a cactus forest so it seems like we should feature one here.
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On the Cactus Forest Trail.
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Here’s another of those deformed barrel cacti! This one has some help, perhaps because of its unusual nature. I imagine that without the prop it would collapse under its own weight and uproot, as these plants do.
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A different angle. It does remind you of a crested saguaro, alright.
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A look north at the foothills of the Rincon range.
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Here it is again! The light is much better this time.
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Crested saguaro No. 3 on the Team Anderson life list.
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We near the car about fifteen minutes before sundown.
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There’s a nice sunset this evening, but not quite up to the standard set by our last visit here.  The main event though is the moonrise, but as we look east at Tanque Verde Peak rising up in front of us it’s clear that the moon will take a while to break the horizon.  We watch for a few minutes, observe it’s getting cold and that we’re getting hungry, and decide to head for home.  We stop a half dozen times as we drive west, looking back along the mountains for signs of life.  

Finally, nearly a half hour later, the moon finally rises up through a thin band of clouds.  No howling tonight though.  Arizona has a few wolves, but they’re apparently not hanging out inside the city tonight.

Wolf Moon!
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Jen GrumbyWow! I think if I had seen that I may have broken into a spontaneous howl.

Nothing quite like the great video .. but an attempt to honor the great glowing orb.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyWe’d like an audio, if you don’t mind.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanI'm howling about what a nice moon shot that is.
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1 month ago
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Comment on this entry Comment 3
Bill ShaneyfeltThanks for the memories!

I really love the AZ sunset/moonrise times! Spring of 2013, camping at Lost Dutchman State Park on a trip with my brother, I got the chance and posted shots on facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10200782949112182&set=a.10200730447879684
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltNice shot! It’s the kind of shot I envisioned for ourselves too, but the timing is wrong. You have to be a day or two off full so that the moon rises while it’s still light enough to see the mountains.
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1 month ago
Bill ShaneyfeltIt was all luck. My brother and I were riding our mtbs on the trail and there were several guys with backpacks full of big lenses & stuff dotted around the area focusing on the sunset. It really was spectacular, but I also noticed the moon. No telling how many shots I took switching from sunset to moonrise, and moving from spot to spot looking for an interesting perspective. That was way back in 2013.
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1 month ago