Autumn Ithaca

Cass Park

Pam and I arrived early to Cass Park for our grandson’s October afternoon soccer match, in time for a 2 mile walk on the generous footpaths. This is my impression of that time, from the IPhone 7’s camera.

A Packed Excursion Boat Under A Stunning Sky

This completes our Sunday afternoon walk around Cass Park, Ithaca, New York.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Black Mountain

Million Dollar View

After a respite among the cool spring waters, we headed up Peters Trail for the top of Peter’s mesa where, for all we knew, there was no water.

In this photograph I face northwest, looking down on Dutchman Trail. The peak, upper center left, is Black Mountain. The cleft of Charlebois Canyon is lower middle right. Stag Horn Cholla cactus is lower right with Prickly Pear cactus scattered in the brush. Poles of young saguaro cactus are scattered around the lower slopes. Look carefully and you can make out the pooled water of our rest stop.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Around the Mountain

The beetling cliffs of Bluff Spring Mountain

Here is a recap of the last few Superstition Wilderness posts. The expedition route, in red, starts on the right where Dutchman and Terrapin trails meet. The total distance is 2.6 miles. Photograph timestamps tell me about 2 hours passed — 1.3 miles per hour in this rough country.

I came upon the wildflowers of “Desert Color” a few minutes after starting.

“Ominous Splendor” photograph was taken just before Bluff Spring Mountain Canyon (green text).

“Marked Saguaro” was encountered a few minutes before the Cottonwood tree of “Riparian,” marked with a pushpin.

“Spring Flow” is the endpoint on left.

Here is a gallery of photographs from this portion of our expedition.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Spring Flow

Rest Before A Climb

The expedition party rested where Dutchman Trail intersected the creek, full of flow from Charlebois Canyon, Music Canyon and LaBarge springs. We filled the water reservoirs in preparation for the climb up to the night’s camping spot on Peter’s Mesa, a 1,300 foot climb over 1.2 miles.

Behind Colorado and “Ed’s Horse” (don’t recall the name) is Bluff Spring Mountain.

Click Me for the first post in this series, “Bluff Spring Mountain.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Riperian

Blessings of Water

A view to west on Dutchman Trail between Bluff Spring Mountain and Peter’s Mesa. The creek flowing from Charlebois, Music Mountain and LaBarge springs nourishes this Fremont’s Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and other riparian flora. The tree is flanked by volcanic rock from an ancient eruption.

Click Me for the next Superstition Wilderness post, “Spring Flow.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Gorge Exploration

Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York

Late August last I captured these photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone7 while Pam and I walked Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York. Click me for “The Space Station and the Waterfall,” another glen exploration.

Ephemeral Waterfall

Metal Intrusion

Spring thaw washed away the gorge wall, this functional metal bridge will outlast all but the most catastrophic gorge wall disruptions.

Graceful Waterfall Overview

Flora

White Baneberry, aka “Dolls Eyes,” a fascinating plant, entirely poisonous.

All parts of all Baneberry varieties (red and white) are highly poisonous, the bane of Baneberry. The berries are deadly. Ingestion of as few as two berries by children will cause death from cardiac arrest. Six for an adult.

Landscape Features

Overview, Spillway and Pond

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Marked Saguaro

Signpost to Gold?

Lost gold mine legends tell of Saguaros bearing secret markings leading to the hidden location of rich gold mines. This specimen, perched on an ancient volcanic boulder, lives in LaBarge Canyon along the Dutchman trail.

Click Me for the next Superstition Wildness post, “Riparian.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Desert Color

Wildflowers on Dutchman Trail

Those cliffs above the Dutchman Trail (in red from the push pin “Dutchman Terrapin Trail Junction”) climb 670 feet in 0.2 mile. Fifteen minutes after starting I stopped to photograph a group of wildflowers.

The bright yellow flowers on right are a member of the pea (Fabaceae) family named Wright’s Deervetch (Acmispon wrightii) I am able to pick it out from many similar flowers due to the characteristic narrow leaves with small hairs. These start out yellow, turning to red with age eventually forming brown seed pods. Mexican Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) to the right.

The small white flowers are Chickweed (Minuartia macrantha) of the family Carnation (Caryophyllaceae).

Click Me for the next Superstition Wilderness post, “Ominous Splendor.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bluff Spring Mountain Canyon

A Meeting of Expedition Members and Trails

Here is the topographic map with Terrapin Trail (yellow) meeting Dutchman Trail (orange) to the right of Upper Black Top Mesa Pass, bottom center

The beetling cliffs off Bluff Spring Mountain loom over where Terrapin and Dutchman trails meet. Patches of yellow are Mexican Poppies blooming on the talus slope. Terrapin Trail climbs the ridge, to right. Here is where I caught up with mounted expedition members, the spotted rump of an Appaloosa figures prominently next to the signpost.

Terrapin Trail almost immediately starts a climb up to an eponymous pass between Bluff Springs Mountain and Weavers Needle. From here, it is the best way into the mountain. The trail name is a misnomer, as terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) turtle habitat is near the ocean. There is a desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) you might encounter during the rainy season as they are otherwise inactive.

Click Me for another posting from Black Top Mesa

Al at Terrapin and Dutchman trails. His Appaloosa is enjoying fresh grass.

Click me for the next Superstition Wilderness post, “Desert Color.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bluff Spring Mountain

A Storied Place

As we descended Upper Black Top Mesa Pass into Bluff Spring Mountain canyon we found, foreground, Palo Verde and brittle bush, and, midground, Saguaro. The presence of Palo Verde reveals water flows through this area intermittently though not enough to sustain a large tree. Palo Verde is in the pea family (Fabaceae), as evidenced by production of seeds in pods.

Calling it “Buff Mountain” some say the mountain is named for these buff-colored cliffs. Others, calling it “Bluff Spring Mountain” name it for the cliffs and the spring within a canyon on top.

Closer to the junction with Terrapin Trail this Bluff Spring Mountain ridge rose above us. A fine specimen of mature Saguaro cactus is in midground.

Click Me for another posting from Black Top Mesa

A climb up this ridge rewards a person with fine camping within a canyon on top of this mountain. This joy was reserved for a later trip I have yet to enjoy. Bluff Spring Mountain features prominently in the literature and stories of the Dutchman Mine and lost treasure.

Click Me for the next post in this series, “Bluff Spring Mountain Canyon.”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved