Of Dragoons and Dragons

Oh, I’m getting behind in my chronicles! Too many cool sights and organisms, but I’ll do what I can this evening to show you some interesting things. Commentary will appear as if by magic sometime during the wee hours of the coming morning.

North of Bisbee and east of Tucson is a range of dramatic granite mountains known as the Dragoons. The range isn’t extraordinarily lofty or extensive but the landscape is beautiful, just full of intersecting canyons and intricately eroded peaks. The range is historically famous for providing a hide-out and refuge for Cochise’s Apache warriors during the eleven years of fighting between the tribe and the US Army.

A couple of days ago Bev, a collie named Sage, and I spent an afternoon walking up one the Dragoons’ canyons. Some photos from the excursion:

The photo above is of a typical Dragoon jutting above the desert valley, and below is a closer view of another mountain.

Bev and Sage on the trail:

A view back down the Slavin Gulch trail, looking across the valley towards another sector of the Dragoons:

I enjoyed seeing the Dragoons, but there is something to be said for proximity. The house I’ve been occupying is perched on the edge of a canyon slope which extends up into the Mule Mountains, amongst which Bisbee is nestled. The other day as I ranged freely along the canyon slopes, attempting in vain to avoid the ubiquitous thorns, I came across a dramatically-shaped granite outcrop which is perhaps thirty feet tall. Later I consulted a map and found that the outcrop has a name: the Dragon Rocks. The formation doesn’t look much like a dragon to me unless I squint my eyes and wax fanciful, but the pile is easily climbable and offers a splendid view of the canyon. From my admittedly unsocial point of view the place seems not to be visited very often. The next two photos below were taken respectively in the morning and the evening. The morning shot shows two aspens which were nicely illuminated by the rays of the rising sun.

This shot is a view from the dragon’s spine of the upper reaches of the canyon, my current neighborhood:

Another view from the top of the rocks, looking down at the same two aspens. The evening sun kindled the aspen-tops into a brilliant glow:

The shadow cast by the dragons; the right-hand protrusion at the top of the shadow is my own shadow:

The rocks’ summit seems to be a favorite spot for defecation, most likely by a family of coatimundi. I wondered what the creatures had been eating? I resisted the impulse to add to the pile:

A closer view for those interested in such matters:

Clinging to the furrowed and ledged side of the granite structure was a tenacious manzanita just coming into full bloom. A view of the flowers, which modestly don’t open very far; such coyness doubtless irritates the bees which pollinate the shrubby tree.

On my second visit I discovered an abandoned mineshaft just beneath the rocks. I was mightily intrigued:

Sage, the intrepid hiking collie, nosed around the entrance as I cast my shadow within. I’ll bring rubber boots with me next time!