Greetings from Torr Head, Northern Ireland

Pam is standing on the closest point on Ireland to the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland, framed by the Irish Sea, blue from reflected sky on a June day.

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From a June 6, 2014 day spent among the Antrim Glens of Northern Ireland.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Slievenaglogh View, east, V

Looking east

This the fifth and final of a series of landscape photographs taken from this position.

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The peak is named, in the English language, Slievenaglogh. It is so strange as it’s not English, being instead a transliteration of the Irish name “Sliabh na gCloch.” This is “Rock Mountain” translated literally. Slievenaglogh is carried to the townland, a long thin swath of land being the peak and associated ridge-line.

The rocks up there are called “gabbro,” a type of magma slowly cooled under ground. Slievenaglog, Slieve Foy across the valley, and the Morne mountains all formed within volcano magma chamber(s) of the Paleocene, 66 million years ago, a time associated with extensive volcanism and the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event that gave rise to the current age.

Our younger cousin has been up there, optimistically we left it for a later trip.

Click for another interesting post and story from County Louth.

Here is a slide show of this landscape series.

A link with interesting reading on County Lo uth geology.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Slievenaglogh View, northeast, IV

View of Slieve Foy

This the fourth of a series of landscape photographs taken from this position.

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The distant ridge, Slieve Foy, is the site of a mythic battle from the epic “The Cattle Raid of Cooley” (Irish: Táin Bó Cúailnge).

Pam and I did a circuit of the island, returning to the home of my Mom’s first cousin. Our last full day on Ireland a cousin took us on the Tain Trail, over Maeve’s Gap of Slieve Foy and into Carlingford town.

Our route is partly visible to the right of the ridge, hidden in low clouds.

Click for another interesting post and story from the Cooley Peninsula.

Here is a slide show of this landscape series.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Slievenaglogh View, northeast, II & III

Rural Scenery

These are the second and third of a series of landscape photographs taken from this position. See the previous post for the first.

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I visited here early morning of the Monday Pam and I embarked on a trip around the island of Ireland.

Arrived the previous Saturday when, after some sites between Dublin airport and the Cooley Peninsula, we met my Mom’s first cousin who had invited us for a visit. We had a grand time meeting them.

The ruin in this view is on the slopes of the peak. Some of these ruins are former homes with the replacement nearby. This appears to be an abandoned farm.

Click Me for the first post of this series.

Click me for the next post of this series.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Slievenaglogh View, northeast I

It goes on and on and on

Slievenaglogh is the name of a peak on the Cooley Peninsula of County Louth, Ireland near to the birthplace of my Mom, Proleek, a few townlands to the west.

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On the northeast slope of Slievenaglogh peak (Irish: Sliabh na gCloch) on the road from Mullaghattin Townland to Riverstown.

Here we look northeast from the Slievenaglogh Townland, the valley between Slieve Foy and Slievenaglogh peaks.

The view includes Little River, Ballycoly Townland and Castletown River.

Adjacent is a sheep pasture with a farm ruin behind the yellow flowered gorse (whin bush, scientific name Ulex).

Slieve Foy is the far ridge lost in clouds. Early morning, late May 2014.

Click for an interesting post and story from the Cooley Peninsula.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Mass Bloom

“Princess of the Night” one evening

Our Night Blooming Cereus produced to date fifteen (15) flowers this spring and summer. These opened July 26th after sunset.

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These were captured with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr with a 50mm f/1.4 lens on a Manfrotto tripod. In the following closeup from the lower right is visible a flower bud and spent bloom among the flowers.

Click me for another Cereus Post.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Rocky End to a Perfect Day

A visit to a wilderness horse camp

….continued from the chapter “Superstition Galleries”

Nugget and Colorado had eaten their fill of the rich early spring grass of the apple orchard, The Searcher pulled together the pair for the return to Pine Creek. Perched on Colorado, the lead held by The Searcher, I listened as he shared survival facts remembered from Peter Bigfoot’s desert survival course. The Reavis Mountain School of Self Reliance, founded 1979, is along same Reavis Gap Trail (#117) we traversed. After descending to Pine Creek and up to Reavis Gap (where I first met The Searcher), it descends to meet Campaign Creek where the survival school is located.

He pointed out on the many flowering Century Plant stalks along the trail. “These are great to roast when young, just as the stalk starts to bud from the center, before it starts to lengthen.” By the time the stalk flowers, as in the following photograph, it is quite tough.

Agave flower spike against the dawn in the nameless canyon west of Two Bar Mountain, Superstition Wilderness, Arizona.

At the base of boulders, shaded from the sun, the ridgeline fern takes hold. Surviving on seasonal water seepage, it dries out during dry spells to later revive and reproduce via spores. As I recall, the dry or fresh form is useful as an analgesic.

An absolute necessity for bushwacking (walking off the path), a pair of rattlesnake proof boots were worn on every expedition. These rose to mid-calf with a layer of lexan, the same as used for bullet proof glass.

Swept from the Saddle

We passed the time in this way, me holding on to the saddle horn bouncing and shifting as Colorado negotiated the rough and steep path down to Pine Creek where the vegetation changed from very sparse to the thick growth you saw in my post “A Peaceful Day at Pine Creek”.
On the east side of Pine Creek a trail, unmarked on the maps, follows the creek bed uphill north towards Mound Mountain. In 50 feet or so we passed the side trail to my campsite, our destination was The Searcher’s campsite. I was not paying near enough attention to the surroundings when I looked up to see an Arizona Oak limb headed to my chest. With no time or space to negotiate the obstacle I was left to grab hold and hang on to be swept from the saddle. The branch held my bulk for, at most, a second before giving way.

In bending flexibly before breaking the live Oak wood and centuries of soil underneath the trees softened my fall enough so I was badly shaken and unhurt. Falling a foot or so in any direction would have resulted in serious injury or instant death. Colorado stopped, looking briefly back as I slowly came to my feet. After taking account and letting the circumstance wash over me, I got up and proceeded slowly while we both contemplated my miraculous survival.

Bear Shelter

I now took up the rear as in a few hundred yards the valley wall rose on both sides of the Creek to form a short, narrow pass. The walls fell away just as quickly, the valley floor leveled out and we came to The Searcher’s camp. The bear shelter stood out right away. This was a ten foot high teepee of 4 – 6 inch diameter tree trunks tied with rope, within was a hammock . The three foot wide opening left only one unprotected side while he slept, offering some protection from the all too common roaming bears, most commonly from September to November when mazanita fruit ripens.

Well stocked in every respect, for a wilderness camp. In the following years of roaming the wilderness the camps of other horse people were similar in this way: stoves, comfortable cots, radios, pots and pans all fit into panniers. As a noun pannier is seldom used in the singular because there are always two, one on each side of the horse for balance. I sat on the wide top of one enjoying a cold beer pulled from a bed of ice.

We discussed the benefits and drawback of horses for exploration. I required a gallon and a half of water daily and in the desert wilderness provided for storage of three days, 4 and a half gallons. At 8 pounds each, that is 36 pounds!! Starting out, my pack weighted 90 pounds with a camera and tripod.

There are benefits to having a mode of transport that thinks for itself and drawbacks. Each individual has its own personality and horses do try to get away with what they can. It is wise to limit your dependence on a horse until you know each other well. In retrospect, I was “out on a limb” riding Colorado modified by being led by someone the horse knew well.

It was soon time for me to head back to camp. We set the agenda for the next day, an early start for the hike out. Colorado was to be fully loaded so my riding was not an option, just as well. It was possible to lighten my pack to almost nothing and I looked forward to that.

I took some time before dinner to set up the tripod for a self-portrait on my last full day in Pine Creek. The view is northeast from the Arizona Trail near my camp, the ridge overlooks Reavis Gap. I did a version of the view with and without me.

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Click me for the next post in this series, “End of the Beginning.”

Here is a gallery of the same photos. It is fun to flip back and forth with me disappearing from the scene.

Click me to visit Michael Stephen Wills Online Arizona Gallery.

Click me for the first post of this series.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope – 1

The Exterior

These views of the McMath–Pierce solar telescope enclosure are the preliminary to a guided tour of the instrument, April 20, 2005.

On the tower are three heliostats, plane (flat) mirrors mounted on computer-controlled platforms to follow the sun across the sky to direct sunlight to primary mirrors underground, beneath the base of the slanted shaft

Built in 1962, the building was designed by American architect Myron Goldsmith and Bangladeshi-American structural engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan. It was the largest solar telescope and the largest unobstructed aperture telescope in the world. It is named after the astronomers Robert Raynolds McMath and Keith Pierce.

Inside the McMath–Pierce solar telescope is this keyed model of the observatory. Our docent for the morning tour stands alongside.

Reference: Wikipedia “McMath–Pierce solar telescope”
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Kitt Peak from below

Rocks of a complex origin

“When George J. Roskruge created the official map of Pima County in 1893, he named the range after James Quinlin, who had opened a stagecoach station in the nearby town of Quinlin in 1884.” — Wikipedia article for “Quinlan Mountains.”

Kitt Peak is the highest point of the Quinlan Mountains, one of a series of ranges starting near the border with Mexico, the Baboquivari Mountains. Pan Tak pass separates Coyote Mountains from the Quinlans. Farther north there is even the Roskruge Mountains and a range named for a silver mine, the Silver Bells. Roskruge originally named “Kit’s Peak” for his sister, Phillippa, married to William F. Kitt. The peak was renamed to Kitt Peak William’s request.

Here we see a dramatic view of Quinlan Ridge with Kitt Peak observatories, taken from the access road Arizona Routh 386. The instruments I recognize are, from left to right, McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope (second in line) and, on the end, Mayall Telescope.

And more views as I progressed toward the top.

The dramatic peaks are hypothesized to be igneous intrusions into metamorphic rock, these are called “Sky Islands” for the environments supported on them, radically different from surrounding lowlands. Kitt Peak is known for the stands of Manzanita Bushes

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Baboquivari Peak

Approaching Kitt Peak

The Contreras fire threatening Kitt Peak last month brought to mind a spring visit of mine to the National Observatory.

From downtown Tucson get onto Interstate 10, heading “east” toward El Paso. East in quotations as the road only turns east after the fork for Interstate 19, headed south past San Xavier del Bac mission and Nogales at the Mexican border. A few miles down I19, well before the mission, a turnoff for Arizona route 86, a road you’ll follow the better part of 36 miles, passing the Tucson Mountains on the right. Most days, the Mayall Telescope of Kitt Peak shines bright white ahead, as it did the right after dawn on Wednesday, April 20, 2005.

At some point R86 enters the 4,453.307 square mile extent Tohono O’odham Nation Reservation, you pass the town Three Points where Arizona route 286 heads south to Sasabe and the Mexican border. The next turn south is the Kitt Peak access road, Arizona route 386. On that Wednesday I was so early the gate to the peak was locked, so I pulled off the road and waited. It is a lonely place on the route for migrants from Mexico. I wandered off the road, into a wash (dry, sandy stream bed), to relieve myself, where junk from migrants was scattered around. Back in the car a helicopter approached with a black SUV. A big guy got out, walking by into the wash: the border patrol.

Here is a photograph from that day of Baboquivari Peak taken from Kitt Peak’

Baboquivari Peak is the most sacred place to the Tohono O’odham people. It is the center of the Tohono O’odham cosmology and the home of the creator, I’itoi. According to tribal legend, he resides in a cave below the base of the mountain. This mountain is regarded by the O’odham nation as the navel of the world – a place where the earth opened, and the people emerged after the great flood. Baboquivari Peak is also sometimes referred to as I’Itoi Mountain. In the native O’odham language, it is referred to as Waw Kiwulik, meaning “narrow about the middle”. The O’odham people believe that he watches over their people to this day. — Wikipedia

Baboquivari Peak was mentioned in the journals of Jesuit missionary Padre Kino, who made many expeditions into this region of the Sonoran Desert, beginning in 1699, establishing Spanish Missions in the area. — Wikipedia

Kitt Peak is in the sacred precinct of Baboquivari, the land just below the peak is the “Gardens of the Sacred Tohono O’odham Spirit I’itoi.” The month of my visit, the O’odham nation brought legal suit against Kitt Peak to halt construction of new telescopes in the garden. The issue was settled out of court.

About the header photograph: From the bottom clockwise. Birds by Anmelia Juan of Geawuk (Kitt Peak 1972) – I purchased this from the Kitt Peak gift shop during my first visit; Turtle by Olvera and Simon Valenquela (Saguaro National Monument 2005); Stars by Simon Valenzuela for his daughter Pasquala Valenquela 16th Birthday (2018). Simon is of the Pascua Yaqui tribe who Learned basketmaking from his wife’s family.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved