October 12, 2009

Prairie plunge


More travel, more celebration and more sights to see. Our stop at Palouse Falls State Park was more of a quick detour on the way home from the Tri-Cities in Washington, where we spent the weekend marking my grandmother's 90th birthday.

About 35 miles off the highway between Richland and Ritzville, the Palouse River gouges a canyon through the surrounding prairie and drops about 180 feet into a basalt bowl. Listen carefully, and you can hear the low rumble of the tumbling water before you see the falls.

A few pictures are here.

Distance: Several short paths are beaten along the canyon rim.

Trailhead: From Connell, Wash., drive 24 miles east on Highway 260. Turn southeast on Highway 261 and drive 8 3/4 miles to Palouse Falls Road. Turn northeast and follow the gravel road two miles to the state park parking lot.

October 4, 2009

Mapping our adventures

I recently updated the map of our trips - it now shows most everywhere we've been this year. It's always kind of interesting to see our travels from this perspective. Check back for more adventures!

October 2, 2009

Sunset on summer


Last weekend, we got what will likely be our final glimpse of summer for the year while in Tucson, Ariz., for a wedding. There was plenty of sun, and temperatures in the city in the Sonoran Desert reached the high 90s and low 100s.

While we spent a good deal of time seeking the solace of air conditioning, we did manage to get out.

Our first excursion took us up into the Santa Catalina Range via the scenic Catalina Highway. The drive ascends 6,100 feet in 27 miles to the village of Summerhaven and Mount Lemmon, where the temperature was considerably cooler. Here, we took a hike through a fern, ponderosa pine and aspen forest in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness.

Later the same day, we took a short drive and walk through the Cactus Forest of Saguaro National Park's Rincon Mountain District. We timed our visit to see the sun sink in the sky to the west, pictured above, and the moon rise in the east.

The next morning, as we drove to the airport, we stopped in Saguaro's Tucson Mountain District to view some petroglyphs.

The trip was quick and there's more to see, so we'll be returning - albeit when it's cooler. And congrats to the newlyweds!

Marshall Gulch-Aspen Trail, Santa Catalina Range


The trail begins by following Marshall Gulch west through a ponderosa pine forest, parts of which were burned in a 2003 wildfire. At about 1 1/4 miles, the route connects with the Aspen Trail, turning southeast. Just uphill from the junction are views of the Wilderness of Rocks and Tucson. The trail turns east, then north, traveling 2 1/2 miles though through more burn areas, a forest carpeted with ferns and aspen stands before returning to the trailhead.

See photos here.

Distance: 3.7-mile loop.

Trailhead: Drive 26 miles north and west up the Catalina Highway from northeast Tucson to Summerhaven. Follow the road one mile through the village to the Marshall Gulch Picnic Area. The Marshall Gulch trail begins next to the restroom.

Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive, Saguaro National Park

On the east edge of Tucson, the Cactus Forest Loop makes for a quick escape. Several trails are located along the paved road, including a fairly level 2.5-mile path that bisects the loop north to south. We arrived with enough time to hike out this trail a short distance and back before staking out a place along to road to watch the sun go down.

See photos here.

Distance: 8-mile loop drive, 5-mile round-trip hike. (We only hiked a short portion of this trail.)

Trailhead: On the east side of Tucson, follow the signs from Old Spanish Trail to the entrance of Saguaro's Rincon Mountain District. The Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive begins just past the visitor center. Cactus Forest trailheads are located on the north and south sides of the loop, roughly one-quarter and three-quarters of the way through the drive.