Best of 2020 – Landscape

It almost seems like an oxymoron using the word ‘Best’ with ‘2020’.

We have had more trips cancelled this year than we went on. We tried to go to Grand Canyon-North Rim on three separate occasions, and had every trip cancelled for one reason or another, including closures due to Covid, and forest fires.

I contend that the pandemic was different things for different people – some worse affected than others. For us, we tried to take our isolation on the road in our camper as much as possible to keep our sanity through this year’s events. So, without further ado.. here are my top picks for 2020, in no particular order:

(1) Mogollon Rim

(2) Mogollon Rim

Both these photos come from a trip to Mogollon Rim along Milk Ranch Road, which we found to be very crowded with campers this year.

(3) Carnero Lake

Despite the fact that we fought serious camera and lens issues throughout the year, we were able to enjoy (and capture) some beautiful sunrises at Canero Lake. I wish my osprey photos had come out as well.

(4) Carnero Lake

(5) Aztec Peak

As many times as we have been to Workman Creek outside of Young, we had never been (or even heard of) Aztec Peak. There is a gate that prevents you from driving up the road past the creek every time we have been there. We attempted to go to the area for photos several times, but were always deterred due to road closures. Persistence paid off and the third time was the charm when we found the gate open, and were able to enjoy the overlook from the peak, the highest point in Sierra Anchas Wilderness.

(6) Alstrom Point

We had put off our trip to Alstrom Point, not due to road closures or fire, but lack of clouds. The forecast called for weather though, so we packed up and headed out to this amazing overlook over Lake Powell. Unfortunately, there were no clouds, but still made for a wonderful outing.

(7) Flagstaff, San Francisco Peaks

Back behind Flagstaff, is an area called Government Prairie. Dirt roads wind around through scrubby brush and open fields. If you keep driving, the pine trees become more prevalent, and this wonderful view of San Francisco Peaks reveals itself.

(8) Sheeps Crossing

Sheeps Crossing was originally built in 1926 to allow sheep herder’s to herd their sheep across the Verde River, reducing the numbers lost in the swift currents. On the National Register of Historic Places, it has been re-built due to years of use.

(9) Fossil Creek

Just outside of Camp Verde along the Verde River is a stunning gushing stream, Fossil Creek. While it is harder to get there now that they closed access via Strawberry, and made it a fee area, it remains a gorgeous, if not sadly overgrown area.

(10) Greens Peak

Outside of Show Low is a popular area called Greens Peak that we frequent every year. It tends to get a lot of weather (snow and rain) that make it flourish with greenery and animals.

(11) Hart Prairie / Kendrick Peak

We had gone to check out Lockett Meadow, a stunning place for aspen color, but there was a line waiting to get into it due to overcrowding. So instead we found a new area we hadn’t yet explored, Hart Prairie, just outside of Flagstaff.

(12) Mogollon Rim, FR 95 bridge

We’ve gotten very little snow this year, so when we heard it was supposed to snow on the rim, we immediately headed out. We enjoyed a beautiful winter wonderland for a short period.

That wraps up my 2020 Best Of. Let’s hope 2021 abounds with happiness, laughter, great views and interesting places, storm clouds, and stormy weather.

Check out my Best of Animals, 2020 here… https://kritterspix.com/2021/01/12/best-of-2020-animals/

The Ones that Didn’t Make the Cut

You may have seen my Best of Landscapes 2019, here…. https://kritterspix.com/2020/01/09/my-best-landscape-photos-of-2019/  or my Best of Wildlife 2019 here… https://kritterspaw.com/2020/01/09/my-best-wildlife-photos-of-2019/ .  Below are some of the ones that DIDN’T make the cut.

1. Pismo Beach, CA... wish I could get sunset shots like this in AZ! PismoSundown_IR.jpg

2. Lil Buck… If only AZH had published THIS pic  _40A9745_IR.jpg

3. Hawley Lake ….  Through the Fog is Clarity  _40A4245_IR-2.jpg

4. Javelina … not a common sight in this neck of the woods  Javifurup_IR.jpg

5. Snow Elk…. Animal behavior can be so much fun to capture, sometimes these little guys do the darnedest thingsrest_IR.jpg

6. Moqui Snow … I need to work on getting more landscape snow pix  snoburst1_IR.jpg

7. Oak Creek Fall … Gotta love waterfalls & fall, such an amazing combination BoulderBed_IR.jpg

8. Morman Lake Elk Pool …   While this is a busy pic, lots of fun interactions to look at morman lake elk pool_IR_IR.jpg

9. Kaibab Daisies … I had never been to Kaibab Lake before, I need to get out more _40A2967-HDR_IR.jpg

10. Babies Rule … love me some baby wildlife!  Cuddle_IR.jpg

I could go on, but I think the exercise of limiting oneself to only the best forces one to be critical of oneself, encouraging growth and improvement.  Something we should all heed in our lives.  Happy New Year!

A trip to the Rim

_MG_9965_LR.jpg

Life gets busy, but we should never be so busy that we don’t take time out to frequent our favorite spots and do the things that rock our individual boats … and for us that includes the Mogollon Rim.

_MG_0013_IR.jpg

We actually got snow, sleet, hail, and rain during our short trip, which made for awesome scenery and elk wondering what we were doing there.

_40A9691_IR.jpg

_MG_9973_IR.jpg

It made me wonder what took us so long… oh, there was that project, and that chore, and that meeting, plus that snow storm, the roads were closed… well, okay.

Always find time to smell the roses, or in our case fresh forest air.

_MG_0018_IR.jpg

A Special Place

_40A4032_IR.jpg

Do you have a special place?

Maybe a restaurant you meet your one and only?  A place of solitude that elicits fond memories?  A spot you go to so that you might clear your head?

_40A4065_IR.jpg

We should all have such a place of tranquility and peaceful reconciliation.  Alas, many of the restaurant / bars that my husband and I remember fondly – where we met, where we danced to quiet music, etc.  – are now no longer there.  And I’m not talking just change in names… buildings gone, and unrecognizably landscapes have taken the place of long forgotten icons.

_40A4047_IR.jpg

But we still have our special place.  It’s not a restaurant or a bar… it’s an attitude of peaceful reflection.  My husband first went when he was a boy of 10 years old.  He went camping with his dad.  His dad felt he should know how to drive in case anything happened to him.  So it’s a place, he first learned to drive with his dad – gone now some 20 years.

_40A3987_IR.jpg

My husband took me there before we were married, some 30+ years ago now.  It was then that we discovered these ruins as we looked over this grand landscape and saw this structure tucked into the side of the hill… seemingly undiscovered all these years.

_40A3974-Pano-Edit-Edit_LR-Edit_IR.jpg

We have been going back ever since, and deem it our special place.  It is magical, tranquil, and awe-inspiring.  We should all have such a special place.

 

 

SnowFall

SnowPath_IR.jpg

Before Fall Colors have even popped yet, we got our first snowfall.  Fall Colors dropped against the blanket of fresh snow made the maple leaves in their varying color stand out.

Maple Snow_IR.jpg

MapleFall_IR.jpg

I love the contrast of color Fall brings, with the green Pines, yellowing Oaks, and emerging reds amidst the scattered Maples.  It’s a potpourri of color and textures.

AspenMaple_IR.jpg

SnowColor_IR.jpg

The snow just adds another dimension in this already gorgeous time in our myriad of seasons we get to enjoy.

TexturedTrunks_IR.jpg

For more of my fall color photos, check out my post here… https://kritterspix.com/2018/10/20/first-snow-2/

Grand Canyon North Rim

 

_40A4111-HDR_IR_IR.jpg

It’s true that the South Rim is closer than the North Rim… by a bunch!  But, give me the North Rim any day.  The views are better, and the crowds less (that by itself is reason enough).

widforss trail star_IR.jpg

_40A4543_IR.jpg

We enjoyed the many overlooks and stunning views along the way.

angelswindow_IR.jpg

The aspen leaves were turning and the fall colors were stunning.  The roads and the hillsides were covered with their golden hue.

pt imp_IR.jpg

_40A5868_IR.jpg

You can see more of my Grand Canyon photos here… https://kritterspix.com/2018/10/05/grand-canyon-north-rim-bright-angel-point/  and here … https://kritterspix.com/2018/10/05/grand-canyon-north-rim-point-sublime/

_40A5780_IR.jpg

Hutch Mountain

 

hutch lo far_IR.jpgHutch Mountain Lookout tower is one of many throughout Arizona.  It is on the National  Historic Lookout Registry.  It was built in 1936, and still serves as a manned major viewpoint for fires in the Flagstaff area.  Located off of FR3 (Lake Mary Road) at Milepost 310, not too far down a couple good dirt roads.

hutch journey_IR.jpg

The day we were there there were 9 fires in the area, all started by dry lightening, including the Tank Fire.  The Tank Fire was in the very same area as the Tinder Fire which devastated our neighborhoods just a month before.  As an eery reminder of those terrifying days, our neighboring subdivisions CCP 1&2 were issued pre-evacuation notices.  Fortunately, the fire was quickly doused and completely contained.

hutch stairs_IR.jpg

hutch radio twrs sunset_IR.jpg

From the top of the tower you could see the Chinooks flying on the horizon dumping water of the fire.

hutch tank_IR.jpg

tank fire vu_IR.jpg

The surrounding landscape is full of Ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, elk and deer.

deertern_IR.jpg

aspenpinehort_IR.jpg

treeoverhang_IR.jpg

At 8535 feet elevation the days are cool, and nights brisk.  Climbing the tower offers a vantage point across northern AZ.

hutch sign2_IR.jpg

hutch stars_IR.jpg

Grand Canyon – South Rim

GC treeslant_IR.jpg

We just got back from the Grand Canyon – South Rim hoping to get some great storm cloudy pix.  It’s difficult if not impossible to schedule a trip around a storm, as getting reservations at the Canyon can be it’s own difficult task.  But we managed to get last minute reservations in one of their old ‘rustic’ cabins.

GC lonetree clos_IR.jpg

A storm was predicted for the days we were there… but today’s weather forecasters are often wrong.  Furthermore, it’s hard to say if upon a storm one will get awesome clouds and interesting sky, or complete whiteout and washed out gray skies.

GC crevace sno_IR.jpg

The afternoon we arrived brought snow almost immediately.  The next day we were socked in and you couldn’t see the Canyon over the edge…. so I was glad I got the shots I did when I did.

GC tree vert_IR.jpg

The day it snowed all day, we had hoped to get to see Hermit’s Rest, a Mary Colter building 7 miles off the main Grand Canyon loop.  Unfortunately, the road was closed due to all the snow we were having.  We got about 8″ in the day we were there.

GC lookout vu clos2_IR.jpg

Going to the Grand Canyon is like touring the world…. people of all nationalities wander with you taking in the magnificent sights of the ‘big ditch’…. even in the snowy winter.

While we were out driving in the snow, we passed no less than 3 tow trucks towing multiple cars that had careened off the ice.  It was like a ice rink with rental cars as bumper cars, skidding into trees and into each other, many of whom had no doubt never before seen snow.  Roads were blocked with tow trucks clearing the way, making it impassable everywhere.

snonose_IR.jpg

We found these elk watching the traffic go by… munching the afternoon away after a short clearing.

elkreach_IR.jpg

Check out my pix … here…. of Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower.

 

 

 

 

Milk Ranch Road

agave clos hort_IR.jpg

pine vu_IR.jpg

Just off the Forest Road 300 is an obscure road marked FR 218:  Milk Ranch Road.  Along it are magnificent overlooks of the Mogollon Rim below.  One can find an open spot in the woods or down a long rocky rough road to be rewarded by this great expanse.

ridge storm4_IR.jpg

pine burst_IR.jpg

If you’re lucky you’ll be blessed with amazing skies, puffy clouds, and remarkable sunsets and sunrises.  If you’re not, just enjoy the view, a nice picnic and peaceful, relaxing visit.

ridge agave_IR.jpg

jj H2_IR.jpg

For more from this trip and Lessons from a Squirrel check out my post HERE.

Snow Birds

coldflicker cloPSi.JPG

We recently had a wave of 3 snow storms which all together yielded about 2′ of snow.  The birds huddled under branches to keep out of the intense snow blasting sideways with the strong winds.  You can see more of my Snow Animals on my photo blog…. here.

redsno2PSi.JPG

redbrancPSi.JPG

The drifts piled high where the winds swept them against trees and boulders.  But it didn’t deter the big animals from trudging through.  We saw more than one limping as a result of tripping over unseen rocks and uneven terrain.

jaysnoPSi.JPG

famportPSi.JPG

dotree3PSi.JPG

It amazes me the treks these animals must take on a daily basis going from hither to yon incessantly.  It’s a tough life in these mountains and woods with their treacherous inclines and rough canyons.

buckgoPSi.JPG

jaysnoPS_1i.JPG