Avant le deluge

Tuesday afternoon I felt like taking a walk. I thought that a storm might be coming, and the atmospheric conditions which bring on such an intuition tend to make me restless. I didn’t have to worry about making a palatable meal because I had food already cooked. Since Bisbee is located in a steep-sided canyon I couldn’t see much of the horizon, but I noticed that the sky was looking quite dark towards the south.

I thought that gaining a vantage point way up on the canyon slope might provide me with some good photos of the approaching storm. I drove up Tombstone Canyon (Bisbee’s main drag) a ways and headed up the opposite side of the canyon on Moon Canyon Road. That road is perched halfway up the canyon side. I could park near a trail-head, and from there I could walk up to a high point from which, with any luck, I’d have a good view of an approaching storm. What could possibly go wrong?

Such a nice view of Bisbee with ominous lightning-dissected dark clouds in the background! The storm didn’t seem to be moving in too fast. I shot some photos along the trail; here’s one of an insect-eye view along the stem of a Strap-leaved Morning Glory, with the angled leaves forming twin palisades:


This species is just beginning its blooming period; here’s the lone open blossom I saw:


The sky was becoming dramatic and I began to think about turning back:


I noticed a nice schist outcropping near the top which looked to be a good place to sit and take some more photos. I went off the trail and was nearly to the outcrop when the breeze picked up and rain began to fall. Change of plans!

The rain became heavier and visibility was poor. I realized that I was unlikely to find the trail again. I knew that if I kept descending I’d surely get back to Moon Canyon Road, where my truck awaited me. By this time I was soaked and my main priorities were keeping my camera dry and not stumbling and falling.

The prime thing to remember when attempting to go down a steep canyon slope, its surface strewn with loose scree, is that you just can’t hurry. I really wished that I had thought to bring a walking stick, as a third leg can be a big help on those steep slopes.

I glanced back towards the approaching storm just once during my descent. It was a chilling sight; a wall of heavy rain was inexorably approaching down the canyon. I got to my truck, and as I fumbled with my truck’s key the real rain hit. Such tumult! My glasses were fogged up as I started the engine and I fired up the defroster so I could see out the window. Brilliant lightning flashed simultaneously with the thunder, and I realized that those lightning bolts were striking up on the slopes where I had been just moments before.

I couldn’t see well enough to safely get my truck turned around. Moon Canyon Road is narrow, and the downhill side is a steep drop-off into a sub-canyon. After a few minutes the rain abated a bit, I got turned around, and on my way down to Tombstone Canyon Road I drove through five newly-formed streams. The rain washes down those canyon slopes so quickly!

A couple more photos, taken just before the rain began to fall:



An exciting evening indeed, but I was very content to witness the remainder of the storm from my apartment haven on Brophy Street.


3 comments on “Avant le deluge

  1. Joan says:

    First of all, great flower photo. I remember that sidewinder from a couple of years back. But the weather ones.. spectacular.

    But now Larry.. Second weather picture from the bottom, I swear there is a maple leaf shaped cloud in the sky. Unless it’s some trick reflection from your car mirror, I think that could be a very good omen. 🙂

  2. bev says:

    Great pics of the impending storm and also the insect’s eye view of the morning glory vine! You were very lucky to get down off the mountainside before the deluge hit. Lightning is quite perilous when you’re up on those huge expanses of rock!

  3. Rain Trueax says:

    Good you turned around– better late than never ;). Lightning kills more people than many recognize. I’ve started out for hikes in Tucson, seen a storm coming and given up my hike to get back to my vehicle only to later read about several being hit by that same storm. Not that I probably would have been. It’s all luck, but I’d rather not count on it. You did get some great photos though for your risk. It is what I love about Arizona in August

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