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!!!!

Across the Plain

Sere grasses

The Finger Lakes are formed by a series of inclined planes spread across central New York State.

Here we look northwest across the land between Cayuga and Seneca lakes, all forests and farm land. Seneca Lake is not visible,15 miles distant, and the Finger Lakes National Forest in between.

The only town is Hector, New York, population 4,854 in the 2,000 census. The foreground are sere grasses, a field of beef cattle and pond.

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Ladies View 1

Derrycunihy Townland, County Kerry, Republic of Ireland

Here we are, on the road from Kenmare to Killarney, N71, part of the Ring of Kerry around the Iveragh Peninsula. The view was celebrated by Queen Victoria’s Ladies-in-Waiting during an 1861 tour of Ireland

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Apple Orchard, landscape orientation

compare portrait vs. landscape orientation.

Unharvested apples on the ground and branches of this apple orchard off Black Oak Road on the slopes of Connecticut Hill, Newfield in the Finger Lakes of New York.

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Autumn Apple Orchard, portrait orientation

apples cling into winter

Unharvested apples on the ground and branches of this apple orchard off Black Oak Road on the slopes of Connecticut Hill, Newfield in the Finger Lakes of New York.

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Black Oak View

Autumn Ridge

Black Oak Road approaches Connecticut Hill from the north. At this point a long view to west opens up that include Cayuta Lake and the distant highlands of Seneca Lake.

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Autumn Road

A Long View

Here we have a vista of Bostwick Road descent off West hill into the Enfield valley and, then, in the distance, up Harvey Hill. Late autumn foliage graces the scene.

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Eirk Townland View Four

Looking toward Lough Gummeenduff

We are near Molls Gap on the Ring of Kerry. At our feet is Eric townland, there’s an epynmous Bog Nature Reserve down there.g of Kerry. At our feet is Eric townland, there’s an eponymous Bog Nature Reserve down there.

Townlands Derrylough, Crossderry and distant Bunbinnia take up most of the view. Those familiar with post-glacial topography will recognize the glacially oversteepened slopes of the distant through valley. The valley floor is a glacial outwash plain.

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Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Eirk Townland View Three

Across the far mountains is Black Valley

Here we are still standing in Moll’s Gap, looking a bit farther northwest into Black Valley than for View Two. Across the far mountains is Black Valley, a place so remote it was among the last, on the island itself (“mainland”) to be electrified or connected to telephone networks. Today Black Valley is a southerly route to the Gap of Dunloe well known to certain hikers and cyclists.

I am struggling here to deal with the vast range of light intensity from the glow of a westering sun, to the shadows cast by surrounding heights.

Beneath our feet are the slopes of Derrygarriff (in Irish Doire Gharbh) of the Mangerton range. Across the way is Crossderry peak of the Dunkerron mountains, the townland is named for the peak (or vice versa).

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Here is a second try, a bit more successful as the clouds opened to shine on distant land. I did work in Photoshop to manage the brightest clouds.

Here are all three versions of the Black Valley view from Moll’s Gap. Enjoy

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Afterglow, Saguaro National Park

The Flag Forms

Here is a postscript for my retrospective diary of the day I created my print “Ocotillo Sunset.” You can visit “Ocotillo Sunset” in my Online Gallery by clicking on any photograph .

In near total darkness, the last sunlight only enough for the far western sky, these are the last shots of this series.

Click photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset in my Online Gallery
Afterglow I

Click photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset in my Online Gallery
Afterglow II

The final result of the day’s work, “Ocotillo Sunset.”

Click photograph to view Ocotillo Sunset in my Online Gallery
Ocotillo Sunset — flag on ocotillo cane poles
Click me for the first blog in this series.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved