Ledge Ruin Musings

a window in time

Canyon de Chelly, on the map, is shaped like a Y or a chromosome.  A chromosome as the walls of the canyon carry the heritage of the people who made this place their home over millennia.  A Y as in the letter ship, a foot and two arms.

6.2 miles from the canyon mouth, where the road ends at Chinle, above the branch, on the north cliff, is this photogenic ruin, called the Ledge Ruin.  In my previous posting, this ruin forms the backdrop of Peter Tsosie’s portrait.  Peter is the header image of this posting.

Junction Ruin

Difficult to believe, seeing it for the first time.

Difficult to see, a tiny nook in an enormous cliff, the structures formed from the same rock as though what remained after the cliff fell away.

Difficult to comprehend life there, what drove them to this effort? Fear, certainly, concern for their safety and security.

We know it by our name.  Their name included the word “home.”

Click for the first posting in this series, “Portrait of a Navajo Guide”.

Click for the next posting of this series, “Canyon of Music, Wind, Light”

Rincon Peak Summit

Experience the Sky Island view from Rincon Peak

The Rincons are one of 42 Sky Mountain islands isolated from each other by the gradual warming and drying climate changes since the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. While this marvelous environment of oak and pine forests only accessible with much effort on foot, it is literally visible from every point of the Tucson valley and million human inhabitants.

Rincon is Spanish for corner, the mountains are called that from their shape enclosing a space on the west, northwest until recently used for ranching and is now falling into use for tract housing. The mountains themselves are reserved as wilderness, parts in the Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest.

In the past 44 years I was lucky enough to visit the Rincon Wilderness interior three times, shouldering different style backpacks onto the mountain, walking different boots. The first, during college the 1970’s, a party of six left from the end of Speedway, up the Douglas Springs trail. The climb was an exercise in desert survival that several friendships did not survive, replace by new friends met on Mica Mountain. I have no photographs from that experience, only memories and the backpack.

Reconnecting with Arizona in 2004, thirty one years after that first experience, I took no chances. My first attempt on Rincon Peak was a success. Risk and effort were reduced, not eliminated by hiring a guide for the four day trip. We made it to Rincon Peak via the Turkey Creek Trail out of Happy Valley, climbing a mountain buttress, views ever widening and lengthening.

These are some photographs from that experience and a landscape photograph of the peak at sunset, taken the following year.

Sego Lilies bloom among a stricken oak and drying grasses on the Turkey Creek trail. This is an overview of the environment, it is the winter rains that trigger the bloom.

Sego Lilies -- CLICK ME!!!!

We paused while I unpacked my gear to capture Sego Lilies growing along the Turkey Creek Trail.

Sego Lilies -- CLICK ME!!!!
Sego Lilies -- CLICK ME!!!!

Deer Head Spring, at the top of Turkey Creek Trail was a moist spot with no accessible water when we reached it April 27, 2004. With the remains of a gallon of water each we needed to press ahead to Heartbreak Ridge and climb into Happy Valley Saddle were, thankfully, the creek was low and full of algae but usable. Here are my first views of Rincon Peak, looking across the aptly named Heartbreak Ridge and Happy Valley Saddle.

Distant View of Rincon Peak-- CLICK ME!!!!
Telephoto view of Rincon Peak -- CLICK ME!!!!

The view to south from Rincon Peak. The white rocks at lower right forms a Valley of the Moon wall. San Pedro River valley at the root, Mae West Peaks at left margin, Dragoon Mountains with Cochise Stronghold center. Taken around 12:30 on April 28, 2004 as a thunderstorm approached.

View from Rincon Peak -- CLICK ME!!!!

The Rincon Peak view looking south, southwest over the Valley of the Moon to the eastern Tucson Valley and the Sky Islands the Whetstone Mountains (Apache Peak), behind are the Santa Ritas. The works of man are overpowered by sky, rock, distance.

We made a hasty departure in front of the thunderstorm. It was a touch and go decision to attempt the peak that day, we made it with moments to spare.

View from Rincon Peak -- CLICK ME!!!!

April 29, 2004 the morning after reaching Rincon Peak I set up the tripod near our Happy Valley Saddle camp to capture Rincon Peak in early morning sunlight.

Rincon Peak from Happy Valley Saddle, dawn -- CLICK ME!!!!

The day we descended to the X9 Ranch via the Rincon Creek trail. My guide’s grandfather had a homestead at the X9 and his access to the trailhead through private lands opened this route for us. This is a photograph of sunset on Rincon Peak from the X9 ranch. I am looking east from the Rincon (Spanish for corner) made by the massifs Rincon Peak, Mica Mountain and Tanque Verde ridge.

Rincon Peak from the X9 Ranch-- CLICK ME!!!!

The evening of November 2, 2006 I climbed the Saguaro National Park, East, Tanque Verde trail for about 30 minutes to reach this view of Rincon Peak and waited until just before the sun set behind the Tucson Mountains for this shot. Then hiked back to the car in twilight. In my hurry, I tripped on a stepped turn and dove headfirst into a large prickly pear. It was a very painful experience and I regretted damaging the cactus and the loss of and good hiking shirt. There were large spines in my face and tiny, pesky spines covered my chest and back. The large spines are not barbed and come right out. I needed to visit a physician to remove them.

Rincon Peak from the X9 Ranch-- CLICK ME!!!!

Last Hike

A sllideshow

Thank You for exploring the South Rim trail of Taughannock Falls State Park on the last perfectly sunny autumn day of 2019.

A sunny November Walk

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Click me for the first post of this series, “Cuteness Break.”

Saguaro Sky

dramatic skies from Saguaro National Park

November is a special time for the ranges and basins of southern Arizona deserts.  Climb a bajada of foothills, face west and wait for the sunset.  That is what I did this day, November 3, 2005.  East of Tucson the Saguaro National Monument at the foot of the Rincon Mountain Wilderness is where I parked, unpacked the photo gear and climbed the side of the Tanque Verde Ridge for a favorable view.  Weather was pushing high level moisture from the west, clouds were developing.

You see here a shot from that session.  In the distance, looking across Tanque Verde, are the Santa Catalina mountains.  Months since the last rainfall, the giant Saguaros are using internal moisture reserves drawn up from a shallow root system, the flesh is less plump, the supporting structure of the ribs, always evident, are more pronounced.  The last light catches these ribs in relief against a dramatic sky.

Click this link or the photograph for my Online gallery of this offering
Saguaro Sunset -- CLICK ME!!!!

Click me for another Arizona sunset post.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Ocotillo Sunset, a diary

The creation of a photograph

This is a retrospective diary of the day I created my print “Ocotillo Sunset.” You can see “Ocotillo Sunset” by clicking on any of the following photographs.

On a Tucson November 2005 afternoon, after my volunteer work for the University of Arizona, CALS college, alumni board of directors, in the mid-afternoon I headed for Sabino Canyon with my photography kit.

With a 25-pound pack on my back, walking from the parking lot I looked up at the incredible rock formations of the Santa Catalina mountains. It took some time to set up the tripod (at that time I was using a cheap swivel head on adjustable aluminum legs) with a 200mm telephoto lens (Canon L-series EF 200mm USM) I grabbed this shot of the hoodoo fringed peaks beyond the foothills (f16, 1/30, ISO160). The lower sun angle made the formations pop out.

Hoodoos in the Hills

That is Window Peak, at the head of Ventana Canyon. Among the hoodoos is a spectacular rock arch, or window, not visible from this direction. “Ventana” is window in the Spanish language.

You call those strange formations of upright rocks “hoodoos. Some people believe the fantastic shapes were created by spirits, today the explanation is wind, water and time create hoodoos from rock of the right stuff. It is a wonderful experience to wander among hoodoos, though unsettling because some of these large rocks are seemingly in danger of falling over at any moment.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Santa Catalina Hoodoos – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Moving On

I have a mental list of photographic “to do’s” and the gathering clouds, typical for a Tucson November day, reminded me an awesome desert sunset was on this list, so I packed up to head for the east side of Tucson for a shot looking toward the Tucson Mountains (on the west side).

Clouds gather at sunset above a ridge serrated by saguaros.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Gathering Clouds – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

Sabino Canyon House

Before we move on, this is a fascinating image of a typical southern Arizona house perched on a ridge at the mouth of Sabino Canyon. In this image the viewer sympathizes because the telephoto lens gathers the majestic rocks around the tiny structure.

Click any photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset Desert Foothill Home – CLICK ME to view Ocotillo Sunset.

The house is perched on a Santa Catalina foothill ridge running east west, a wall of picture windows facing south with a view across the Tucson valley toward Mount Wrightson of the Santa Rita mountains, 42 miles distant. Summer thunderstorms gather on this peak, wreathing it with lightening. These times, evenings and night, the view pays for the inconvenience of this distant, hot ridge. Another time to be there is for sunsets.

Click Me for the next post in this series.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion National Park 2007

My Zion Photography on Getty

I finished my Zion photographs from oyr 2007 trip. Click this link for the 22 images accepted by Getty.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows XII

Family Group with child

In this series of three exposures from a tripod mounted Kodak DSC Pro SLR/c and Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM lens, all were ISO 250, at f/8. The difference was the exposure time. In is the shortest exposure, 1.6 second, the human figures are blurred, though to a lesser extent than the second image, released earlier.

This is the last image of our trip to Zion National Park.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Red Near and Far

Yesterday, Pam and I headed to the peneplane behind our home to enjoy the Finger Lakes terrain graced by fall colors.  The day before I noticed the Japanese Maple leaves had turned from maroon to vermillion.  While waiting for Pam to get ready, I capture the following two shots.

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RedNearAndFar-7

This tree was planted by my father and mother in-laws.  Developed over the centuries by the Japanese, specimens reached England in the 1820 and spread from there.  It is not strictly accurate to call the color vermillion, since cinnabar finely ground produces the pigment for which the color is named, when the sun strikes the leaves vermillion is a metaphor for the impression made.

The scientific name for these trees is Acer palmatum with common names Palmate Maple (for the shape of the leaves “like a palm tree”, as for the scientific name), Japanese Maple or Smooth Japanese-Maple (for the bark).

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RedNearAndFar-6

We drove under the clouds, enjoying the rare dramatic shafts of sunlight and I gave up, finally, tying to time my shots.  Here is the view from Connecticut Hill.

RedNearAndFar-1

The previous photos were taken with a hand held Sony Alpha 700 with variable lens.  The next two are with an Apple iPhone I had a hand when Pam and I returned home for a walk around the neighborhood to witness the transformations.

We were surprised by this orange maple, never recalling this shade before.  Like our Japanese Maple were assume it is a non-native ornamental.

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RedNearAndFar-2

Our Japanese Maple is a challenge to capture photographically as it grows beneath a larger “nut” (don’t recall the kind at the moment) tree.  We are working together to improve that, so I don’t have an overall photograph.

Here is our neighbor’s Japanese Maple.  They have a story of carrying this tree, as a sapling, on the bus from Long Island.   I love the impression of dark limbs among the clouds of red foliage. 

RedNearAndFar-3

This photograph (the “far” of the “near and far”) is from a remote corner of Chiricahua National Monument, during the trip mentioned in my post, “History and Ghosts of the Triangle T Ranch”.  To get there, I drove over a mountain pass to a location was featured in an “Arizona Highways” I read long ago.

I call this photograph “Red Dragon,” the formation is known as a “maple “

dragon”, from the long sinuous form of the tree limb.  Known for this reddish orange autumn color, this is a Big Tooth Maple, AKA Canyon Maple.  Scientific Name Acer grandidentatum (as in “big tooth”).  It is a wild specimen, living along the north fork of Cave Creek.  It is a area well know to avid bird watchers and ornithologists.

Click the link for my offering of this photograph in my Fine Art Galleries
RedNearAndFar-8

The camera was my Kodak, DSC slr-c with a Canon 50 mm lens mounted on a tripod.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Indian Summer Afternoons

Each year I make a point of walking Cascadilla Gorge at least once in the fall.  This week on a 84 degree October 9th afternoon Pam was too busy with chores, I parked in “downtown” Ithaca and stopped by the grandchildren’s.  They were hanging out with Mom and were “just too tired” after school to do anything.  Well the middle child, 4 years old, was open to visiting the skate board park and ,for me, that was not going to happen.  I ambled from there, up Court Street, past the Buddhist monk residence at the entrance to Cascadilla Gorge.

The gorge is part of Cornell Botanic Gardens (until recently it was called the Plantations), the organization of the university bureaucracy responsible for elements of the campus.  Cascadilla Gorge, running from Ithaca and through the campus, is one of those elements.  Today, the traffic of people going into and out of the gorge was light and a sign provided the reason: the path was closed at Stewart Avenue, there the bridge crosses above the gorge.  Instead to passed by the Christian Scientist Church on the north side of the gorge and walk up the winding Cascadilla Park Road to the gorge rim trail that climbs East Hill to the Cornell Campus.

The trail is lined with homes, porches on the gorge side where the sounds of creek and falls can be enjoyed.  I was not feeling ambitious, so took a few snapshots with my phone.  Here is path approaches a porch build from the “bluestone”, a type of feldspathic sandstone, native to this area.

Click the photographs for my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories.”

This pot is visible in the previous shot, here is a closer view of the bluestone.

The fall to the gorge floor is steep, several hundred feet in places.  The barrier fence here appears solid, in places it barely exists.  A few years ago a recent Cornell graduate, coming home late from a bar on this path, was found dead in the gorge the following day from a fall.  I continued along the trail until the path fork over to the Ithaca City Cemetery where it is possible to climb West Hill to Stewart Avenue.  Turn right to reach the bridge over Cascadilla Gorge, another right onto the Gorge Rim Trail and back down to Ithaca.  I noticed at the bridge part of the work that closed the gorge was a repainting of the bridge and the suicide prevention fence below the bridge.  On September 24, 15 days before, a senior year Cornell student jumped off the bridge into the fence and was rescued by the fire department.

It is possible to stand next to the concrete barrier of the above snapshot to see this view into the gorge.  I enjoy the beautiful view, the sound of the water and leave the dark stuff where it belongs, at least until I notice the bridge and net are freshly painted.

Last year Pam and I walked Cascadilla with our granddaughter, here she is on that walk next to Cascadilla Creek.  There are large and small waterfalls the length of the gorge trail.

I took this photograph in 2005, the September before my previous post, “Autumn Stroll in Sapsucker Woods” with the Kodak DSC pro slr-c, an ND filter, 50 mm lens and a tripod. It was a planned session, I work waterproof boots and was able to stand in the creek after a series of rain-free days. At this time of the year the gorge opens to the setting sun. I waited, taking a series of photographs for the perfect amount of light on the footbridge. The feature photograph (the header to this posting) is a detail from a shot with the bridge more fully lit.

We have this photograph print framed, I had it mounted as a gift to Pam on our first Valentine’s day. It will make an excellent Christmas or Birthday gift.

Click the photograph for this offering in my OnLine Gallery “Finger Lakes Memories”
“September Sunset in Cascadilla Gorge”
Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Zion Narrows XI

Blurred water and human figures

The image is from a tripod mounted Kodak DSC Pro SLR/c and Canon EF 50 mm f/1.4 USM lens, ISO 250, exposure 3.5 sec at f/8. The flowing water in forground has an appealing blur, fellow waders, in the distance under beeteling cliffs, are blurred and unrecognizable.

Here the canyon turns sharply to the right.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved