Gratitude for miracles witnessed is my emotion for this series, “Frozen Fall Creek.” Thirteen winters after Pam and I walked Fall Creek as a solid walking path, the stream flows without ice most years. My son, whose family now lives in the house, and his wife recalling walking the creek a few years ago, not in the past few years.
Weather records support our recollections and observations: here is an analysis of Ithaca January temperatures. The years 2009 through 2019 show a warming trend in daily temperatures for both minimum and maximum.
Excel I used to plot minimum and maximum temperatures (farenheit) for the 31 days of each January for eleven years 2009 – 2019. Click on the images of this post for a larger version.
Click any image for a larger view.
Pam and I moved to Ithaca 2011 and missed our Fall Creek winter walks, miss them even more now our weekend excursions are only memories. Here are January minimum/maximum average daily temperature projections from 2020 through 2044 based on the trend established from the 2009 through 2019 series. The trend is the solid color, projection the faded color.
Reading from the chart, if the current trend continues by January 2044 the average maximum daily temperature will be 47 degrees compared to 29 for 2009. In other words, the temperature never rose above freezing in the year 2009. By 2044 temperatures will be above freezing every day, on average, with daily minimums averaging 21 degrees.
From what I read, we can expect these warming trends to accerate within our lifetimes. My son named small mid-creek hummocks “islands” with numbers. Here is a view of his Second Island in late summer. What will Second Island be in 2044 late summer?
Reader of posts I and II of this series have commented about snow shadows. Here are the shadows produced from snow fallen on the vegetation of the last photograph: soft mounds to contrast with tree trunk shadows.
Click any photograph for a larger version.
I prefer the composition of the following photograph. What do you think?
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.
We paused while I unpacked my gear to capture Sego Lilies growing along the Turkey Creek Trail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this third part, we continue hiking Treman gorge, approaching Lucifer Falls, viewing another waterfall further downstream and returning to the trailhead.
Tiny Trumpet, unknown
I have never achieved a satisfactory capture of the waterfall in the Devil’s Kitchen, a place where the creek flow is diverted south by a projecting ridge. Less than 100 feet later the easterly direction is regained where the water plummets over Lucifer Falls.
The annual in fall of rock in Devil’s Kitchen uproots and crushes plants growing there. There is scant soil, the roots of this shiny purple trumpet bloom took hold in a microscopic crack. The plant is so thin, the flower so tiny it is lucky my gaze found it.
As trail winds around the ridge a stone wall rises on the right and for good reason. The stream shortly reaches the brink of Lucifer Falls, 115 feet high. Gorge walls fall away, the trail steepens. Here is the view from the trail next to the brink.
At hand, on the right, a growth of ferns has survived many seasons. Flowering plants are, in geological time (across billions of years), a relatively recent development compared to these non-flowering ferns. The first flowering plants appears 120 million years ago compared to the first ferns, 360 million years ago. Oddly enough, the spread of flowering plants affected evolution of ferns, an increase of fern speciation in parallel to the rise of flower plants.
While descending the stairs next to the falls brink, look to the right to see this ecosystem, a result of water seeping from the sedimentary rock stratification.
Here you can see how, at lower flow levels, the inactive sections of the fall lip become a garden. In our climate, the entire brink is active for rare and brief intervals during spring thaws. Note how, closer to the active brink, the grasses give way to mosses. Where grasses grow the brink is almost never active.
The trail wall is a lighter color than the cliff, this is how you can see, on the right, the steep trail descent.
Pam and I turned around here. This is some work I did August 2014 of a notable fall downstream from Lucifer. I used the 24 mm Canon lens here, cropping the image. My goal was to include the stair, for interest, with sunlight on the upper stairs; the water in shade.
Myrtle borders the trail as it rises from the gorge entrance.
Tree trunks fallen from the gorge walls are left to decay, restoring the soil. The trunks are covered by moss among a thick growth of myrtle and a few ferns.
To finish, here is an image that may broaden your understanding of sunflowers. These smaller, ornamental sunflowers are, at first, difficult to place. Look carefully at the center, composed of many tiny flowers (florets). In crop sunflowers each of these becomes a seed. In this image, shiny beetles are feasting.
In part 2 of this series, we return to the starting point. Siting of a water mill requires immediate access to the potential energy of falling water, something called “head.” Upper Treman Park was once a prosperous hamlet with the mill as the kernel. Today, the head that drove the mill is a lovely cascade behind the substantial and intact mill building. Easy walking distance from parking, this is a well known park feature.
Here are three versions of a portrait of Mill Falls using different lenses for varying effects. All were taken in the same season and approximate time of day, being early evening.
My composition emphasizes the mass of rock wall above the bench and into which it is placed. The limestone slabs are from a different source, they are not built from the material removed from the cliff.
Seeds and Flowers
A dandelion on steroids. If you can help with identification of this plant, please post a comment.
The are like people, sitting there. Kenneth Graham’s genius, in writing “Wind in the Willows”, was to recognize the likable characteristics of the toad. I find myself concerned about their survival, although they must survive. Earlier in the season they are pea sized. I resist an inclination to move them to what may be a more promising location, preferably with a stone house and chrome brilliant motor car.
Copyright 2017 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
Over the weekend the handle of our 60 year old Delta brand kitchen faucet broke off, since we moved here I rebuilt it once and replaced the stainless steel sphere, the central control of the mechanism. The stem of the sphere must have been faulty because it snapped. Monday, I visited Lowes and the sphere was not in stock. Just wanting to fix the faucet, I skipped the usual vetting of a new product and grabbed the exact same Delta faucet which was, just like the sphere that broke, made in China. The next step up in (questionable) quality was three times the price.
Yesterday I installed a new faucet in the kitchen sink, a straightforward and unpleasant task that took most of the day. Late afternoon, while resting up, I brought up the idea of a hike and Pam reminded me we had another clear September day. Last week, I headed out to capture the Mill Creek waterfall of upper Treman Park at the perfect time of day. It was a day such as this, warm, a cloudless sky, minimal breeze.
I need to get in place a bit earlier. Previously, I used a 24 mm wide angle lens and, today, mounted the EF 70-300mm f/4 – 5.6L USM lens on the Canon EOS 1DS MarkIII. Did not have time to sort through the ND filters, so left the UV on. The waterfall is in a glen, shaded from direct light at this time of day, sun low in the west. Given the low light, to save time, I decided to set ISO to a low value (125), set lens to the widest angle (70 mm), and frame the shot using the heavy Manfrotto tripod with ball head.
Needed to crop the image for the above result, still not perfect. I am seeking to full the entire pool in that glow.
Instead of putting the gear away, I carried that heavy setup on the hike. The strap around the neck is a lot of stress if it hangs. With the gear cradled in the crook of my arm it is bearable.
Needless to say, the pace was sedate. Pam spent most of the time walking ahead and refusing to be in any shots. These past weeks, rainfall was light, so the creek is low. This low flow is a necessary element to a perfect waterfall image.
I get some great macro shots with that lens. With just the UV filter, it is quite fast.
In the Gallery
A memorable feature of upper Treman Park is the dramatic gorge entrance. When the glaciers melted, 10,000+ years ago, enough water flowed through this watercourse to wear away several hundred feed of sedimentary rock to form a gallery, or hall, with towering, crumbling, walls on either side.
This evening the light was low, the water seemed dead in that it was clear and did not glisten or ripple. I used these conditions in the above shot to emphasize the structure this pool. Located at the foot of a waterfall, at high water, the falls fill channel and this pool is carved by river stones carried in the current. At lower water, the pool is exposed.
For the final post of this series on Cereus blooms, of the four buds two failed to fully open after the weather turned cold in late September/Early October. Here is the failed bloom from the same opening bud featured in the last Cereus posting.
A reader’s comment to this blog, thank you “Urban Liaisons” prompted me to explore the word, Lucifer. “Lucifer”, in Christian tradition, refers to the devil as it was in a time of glory before the fall from grace. The original, ancient meaning of Lucifer is the planet Venus as it rises just before the sun at dawn. In this sense, the name refers to the bright beauty of the spot. The effect is heightened at midday when the hiker passes from the relative gloom of Devils Kitchen to the full light and sweep of the waterfall chasm.
Standing next to the falls on the Gorge Trail, the stone wall of the Rim Trail Overlook is overpowered by the grandeur of the 300+ foot cliff. The falls photographs were taken from behind the wall.
Occasionally, we have experienced individuals climbing over the wall to stand on the other side. “Why?”
Summertime thick stands of tiger lilies flourish on the cliff face. Can you find the withered leaves?
This session I finally “cracked” the puzzle of the Devil’s Kitchen Waterfall. I posted the results to the online gallery yesterday, for your enjoyment. Click the link to go there.