Constellation Trail Sunday, Sep 30 2018 

Balancing Rock

Balancing Rock

Yesterday we completed our fourth “Take a Hike!” trail. The Constellation Trail is one of our favorites and so it was no surprise to see it included as one of the top ten trails from the past ten years. The trail name is taken from the fact that in 1959 a military plane crashed near here killing all five aboard. We had not visited since the new roundabout was constructed along with a new parking lot and connecting trail. On Saturday we met numerous other hikers and a couple of mountain bikers. We encountered one distraught husband who queried whether we had seen his wife who had a German shepherd with her. As a matter of fact, we had passed such an individual as we started our hike. It turned out that woman was not his wife. We later encountered the lost woman with her German shepherd who was on her phone with said husband. We hiked the 3.4-mile loop on the eastern boundary of the Granite Dells that has an elevation change from 5,000 feet to 5,200 feet. The trail system includes several named components including North 40, Ham & Cheese, Hully Gully, Lost Wall, and Rock Wall. We enjoyed our meandering walk over and around the granite boulders.

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Surprise Spring Trail Saturday, Sep 29 2018 

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Yesterday we took our third “Take a Hike!” in the Granite Mountain area. We parked in the Wekuvde picnic area where we started on Surprise Spring Trail #350. At the junction with Balancing Rock Trail #349 we continued counter-clockwise. We then followed West Lake Trail #351 until intersecting with Surprise Trail to return to our parked car. This moderate 3.8-mile loop winds through pines and past some huge boulders, including one rock that appears to be sliding off another. The elevation varies from 5,640 feet to 5,730 feet. There are several views of Granite Mountain. We could also see a major rising of smoke in the distance. It is unclear whether that was from a prescribed burn or from the Platypus and Rhinoceros fires. One other hiker passed us and two mountain bikers passed us going in the opposite direction. We had previously done this hike going in the opposite direction.

Prescott Quads #14 Saturday, Sep 22 2018 

Spencer Lower

Spencer Lower

Spencer Lower, Clarksdale, was the top finisher in the Prescott Quads #14 held Saturday, September 22nd. He received $50 by defeating three opponents. Lower, a chess master, is a two-time Arizona State Champion and was co-champion in the recent 5th Annual Prescott Open.

Jim Briggs, Chino Valley, won $25 for his second-place finish in the top quad. Briggs, a Candidate Master, won two games, only losing his game with Lower. Briggs was a co-champion in this year’s Prescott Open.

The tournament, divided into two sections, attracted 10 chess players for a full day of chess at Yavapai College. Tom Green, President of the Prescott Chess Club, directed this U. S. Chess rated event which was co-sponsored by the Prescott Chess Club and the OLLI Chess Special Interest Group.

Cortney Reagle

Cortney Reagle

Section B used Swiss System pairing for a three-round tournament with six players. Cortney Reagle and Showen Chen, both from Flagstaff split $90 in prize money for their two wins and one draw. Reagle won his first two games but was held to a draw in the third round against Luis Castenada, Flagstaff. Chen and Castaneda drew each other in the first round. Then, Chen, a first-year student at Northern Arizona University from China playing in his first rated chess tournament, won his next two games.

Goldwater West Friday, Sep 21 2018 

Fall Color

Fall Color

Yesterday we hiked Goldwater West, our second of this year’s “Take a Hike!” trails. We parked near the White Spar Campground for this 3.2-mile loop using several interesting trails. We started on Goldwater Lakes Trail #396. After 0.7 miles we followed the 0.5-mile Hidden Valley Trail #374. At the junction with Banning Creek Trail #81 we noted several new homes since our last visit in 2015 and I took a picture of a tree with yellow fall color. We hiked 1.25 miles on this trail before connecting with Schoolhouse Gulch Trail #67 for the final 0.6 miles to our parked car. We experienced an elevation gain from 5,620 feet to 5,930 feet on these trails shaded by stands of ponderosa pine. We saw one mule deer and only encountered one runner and two women walking four dogs.

Phoenix Zoo: September 2018 Sunday, Sep 16 2018 

Pelicans

Pelicans

Yesterday’s Phoenix Zoo visit found us reversing our customary direction. The Children’s Trail kept us mostly in shade and mostly by ourselves. Although Labor Day has passed, Phoenix was unusually warm (109 degrees) in the middle of September. New construction is underway on the outskirts of this part of the zoo and it looks like it will open another entry point. We noted preparation for Zoolights already has begun. Mallard ducks were enjoying the pond and a common gallinula walked near us on shore. A male pelican preened the feathers of his resting mate. The saguaro shaped slide caught our attention because it looked like a bird was nesting in a hole at the top. A closer examination revealed a small owl ornament. The rope spider web was not being used and we had free reign touring the African animal sculptures. In terms of live animals, four Visayn warty pigs were sleeping comfortably in the shade. We also reversed our usual direction in the Forest of Ubo. One of the Andean bears was looking around while the other slept. Along the Tropics Trail, two straw-necked ibis searching for food drank water from a flowing stream and occasionally crossed their sword-like proboscis with one another. A special treat on this visit was listening (while seated in air-conditioned comfort) to a docent explain everything one might want to know about the orangutans and their exhibit space.

Wildflower Festival Sunday, Sep 9 2018 

Wildflower Festival

Wildflower Festival

Yesterday we attended the Wildflower Festival at the Community Nature Center. We learned that the City of Prescott purchased this 18-acre site, located adjacent to Granite Mountain Middle School, in 2006 and that it was managed by the Highlands Center for Natural History until their current building was built on Walker Road. Along with other 10 a.m. arrivals we drafted a naturalist docent who had completed a nature walk to lead us. She identified many grasses and wildflowers on a short circuit of trail.  This year’s monsoon resulted in a plethora of growth. After our nature walk, I retraced our steps and recorded the following grasses and forbs: bear grass, birdbill dayflower, blue gramma, common woldfstail, cosmos, fetid goosefoot, fewflower beggarticks, globe mallow, Hopi blanketflower,  Indian paintbrush, plumeweed, prairie clover, sacred datura, sanvitalia, sawtooth sage, scarlet morning-glory, skyrocket, sweet four o’clock, tall morning-glory, western sage, Wright buckwheat, Wright’s deervetch. Many of these wildflowers thrive in our yard.

Before returning home, we stopped at Watter’s Garden Center and walked around their extensive offerings. I especially liked the colors and shapes of Butterfly Blue, Denver Daisy, Peter III Blue asters, Fresh Look Red, and the prayer plants. Interestingly, the prayer plant leaves lay flat by day and lift to the sky in the evening.

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