OUR YEAR IN PICTURES - 2012 Page 1
 

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These are picture I received in 2012.  They may have been taken on any date.  I try to put a date on all that I know.

The photos below were taken in Box Canyon and the Pinal mountains near Florence, Arizona on March 4, 2012
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Grandson Mike's new 2006 Hummer H3.  We took this former Cadillac dealer's courtesy car for its first off-road experience. The location is Pinal County's Box Canyon trail near our home in Florence, Arizona. I call this vehicle "the Mini-Hummer" since it is not much bigger than a small pickup.  Mike's friend Ashley from Tucson went along for the experience.

Mike, whose former 4WD experience was of the Tennessee mud-bog type, wasn't expecting the challenges of driving off-road in Arizona dry washes.  Water flowing through this dry wash created Box Canyon over millions of years.  This rock that the water left behind was Mike's first challenge.  He made it with no problem but his skid plate protecting the bottom of the Hummer left its mark on the rock.

Of course, a Jeep owner had to come along and show us how to do it with grace.  But, for a first-time driver over Box Canyon Mike did alright.  The Jeep driver kept his front wheels centered on the rock, whereas Mike went over it with his left front wheel over more to the left causing him to have a little less clearance. 

It doesn't really matter much where this short wheel-base ATV goes over the rock.  There is not much that can stop that vehicle, if you can keep it upright.


There are plenty more challenges on this trail.  The little H3 is starting to feel like the big guys; however, those big Hummers are probably much too wide for this trail.  Mike is starting to get the hang of it by this time.


Click on this image for a short AVI video.  Two motor cyclist came along (the motor sounds in the background) about the time Mike was analyzing the best route over the rocks.  They gave him the courtesy of waiting - maybe just to see the Hummer in action.


Mike had enough rocks for now, so I navigated him to a road up out of the canyon.  At this point we are on top of an unnamed ridge that makes part of the canyon wall.  Steep drops are on both side of the trail which is wide enough for one vehicle.


Mike's adrenaline was flowing as we climbed out of the canyon on this steep, winding road with a sheer drop-off on the canyon side of the road.  The mountain peak in the center far background is where we started on the Box Canyon trail.  The canyon floor is below us between these two ridges.



Ashley is awe-struck by the scenery from above the canyon.  I find it hard sometimes to find much beauty around us in our part of the desert, flat dusty land filled with HOA ghettos, until I get out in the wilderness, like this.  Hopefully, the Arizona government (which owns this land) will have the good sense to preserve this area and not sell it to developers, like it has with many other scenic areas in our state.

The Hummer is perched above Box Canyon which winds below us through the Pinal mountains.  There are many jeep trails through this area, which allow anyone with a high-clearance 4WD vehicle, ATV or mountain bike to enjoy these remote areas of Arizona.  No hiking required. These trails also help preserve the environment as long as visitors keep to the designated roads.  I believe there is a place for these wilderness areas accessible by motorized vehicles - even though I'd rather experience them from the back of a horse.

The rock formation on the left is called a needle.  It is the remains of the throat of the volcanoes that created these mountains millions of years ago.  As the sides of the volcano erode away, left behind is the stony core of the mountain.  The formation to the right was created by a similar process.  I can see these formations from my back yard about twenty miles or so to the west.

A jeep trail comes up the wall across the canyon from us.  It leads up to the formations shown in the left panel.   The road in the fore-front is our trail out of the canyon.  Mike admitted that the drive up the side of the canyon wall had his heart racing a bit.  The mountain ridge at top is visible from my back yard .

The king of the desert cactus, the giant saguaro (su-WAR-oh) stands sentinel over our jeep trail.  These cacti who think they are trees, share the duty with cacti of the misleading name Teddy Bear Cholla (Choy-ya); the cowboys called them the "jumping cactus" because if your horse got near one, the spiny nodes of thorns on the end seemed to jump off and attach themselves to you and your horse.  Their cute name aside, although they do not actually jump, this is one cactus to stay away from.  The slightest brush with one leaves you with the painful chore of removing its not-so-cute thorns from any part of your anatomy that touched it.

Now that the adrenaline rush has subsided somewhat, Mike contemplates the trail back to a paved road.  His proud little Hummer H3 has proven its mettle.  Across the way, another jeep trail climbs out of Box Canyon.

You can see the road home as it runs along the ridge and through the pass in the upper middle part of the picture.  We still had a few miles to go before we reached civilization.  Mike was pleased that we had no more rocks to climb or ridges to cross.   The saguaro forest and cholla that cover these slopes bid us adios.  March 4, 2012
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Ronald N. Wall
Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.
Added: 08 March 2012