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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hiking dog in search of a trail.

Looking for love in all the wrong places?
Ursula: hiking dog in waiting

Having spent a full year of her life looking for love in the Maricopa County Animal Care shelter in Mesa AZ, URSULA, a beautiful, 2-year-old, female, pitbull mix has proven her tenacity and willingness to go the distance in the search for her ideal life companions. Because this little girl is so special, shelter staff thought that exposure to a more energetic audience, namely, the hiking community, might help her locate her forever home. Playful, affectionate and eager to please, URSULA would thrive with adults and older children (12+) who share her love of vigorous exercise and interactive companionship. She is a tad picky about her canine friends, so it's recommended that potential adopters bring their other dog(s) to the shelter for proper introduction. With a little bit of training and a dose of love URSULA would make an excellent hiking partner.

ID #: A3179266
ADOPTION FEE: $60 includes shots, license and free vet exam.
She is already spayed and ready to go home!
Maricopa County Animal Care & Control
East Valley Shelter
2630 West Rio Salado Parkway (8th Street & Loop 101)
Mesa, AZ 85201
ADOPTION HOURS: 11 a.m. - 5:30 daily except Thursdays

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Streamside mountain trek

Thompson Trail #629
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

A babbling mountain stream in a pristine alpine meadow makes a welcoming gateway to the Thompson Trail.  Never straying far from the water’s edge, the trail parallels the upper reaches of the West Fork of the Black River.  The shallow tributary twists and turns through a canyon where soaring basalt walls and massive rough-hewn boulder fields add dramatic flair to the otherwise tranquil landscape.  From the trailhead, the path dips into the river gorge.  There, lacy curtains of olive-colored moss sway from the conifer canopy above the first of several dams and rock barriers put in place along the stream as part of the Apache trout recovery program.  Found only in the streams and lakes of the White Mountains, Arizona’s state fish nearly became extinct due to the damaging effects of invasive species and loss of habitat.  Thankfully, the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 initiated a series of co-operative efforts to preserve the rare, speckled fish.  The recovery program has been so successful that the Apache trout is now on track to become one of the first indigenous fishes in the United States to be taken off the endangered list.  Beyond the dam, the trail heads out through a boggy field that’s alive with waist-high grasses, wildflowers and shrubs.  Marked only by hard-to-find stepping-stones, this segment of the trail is a challenge to follow.  Yet, the spectacular scenery in this corridor---which was partially destroyed by the 2011 Wallow Fire--  acts as a convenient distraction so, you’ll hardly notice the route-finding struggle and the fact that you’re sloshing through ankle-deep muck.  After that, though, the trail dries out as its crawls through damp thickets of vegetation including hops, raspberries and a spectacular array of mushrooms.  Near the end of the trail, at the junction with the West Fork Trail, the roar of swirling rapids marks the turnaround point for the hike.

LENGTH: 6.5 miles round-trip
RATING:  moderate
From Eagar, go right (west) on Highway 260 for 2.8 miles to Highway 261.  Turn left (south) on Highway 261 and continue for just over 16 miles to Highway 273.  Turn right (north) onto Highway 273 and go another 2.1 miles to the turn off for Forest Road 116.  Turn left (south) on FR-116 and go 3.5 miles to the signed trailhead on the right.  The trail begins at a gate located a short distance down FR-116 on the left. No facilities.  No fees.

INFO: Springerville Ranger District, Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, 928-333-6200

Tech & trek with kids

Discover the Forest web site & contest encourage kids to get outdoors

"Why don't kids play outside more?" This is a common topic of discussion while out hiking with my adult pals. Although the distractive effects of smart phones, tablets, video games and TV always play into the banter, we have not come up with a one-size-fits-all answer. Research has shown that children who recreate outdoors are less stressed, develop rich imaginations and have fitter bodies and stronger immune systems. So, where the heck are the kids on Arizona trails? One way to use entertainment technology to encourge kids to get curious about the outdoors--and hopefully whine to go on a hike--- is to visit the Discover the Forest web site. The family-friendly, interactive site offers dozens of ideas for nature-based activities such as hiking, camping and fishing. Also, to promote the July 31st release of the woodland-centric movie The Smurfs 2, the Forest Service, Sony Pictures and Discover the Forest are conducting an "America the Blue-tiful" Instagram photo contest. Just head out into nature, snap a photo of something BLUE, tag and share for a chance to win Smurfy prizes. Contest runs through July 30, 2013.  This is not a paid endorsement.
America the Blue-tiful contest info:

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Is Bigfoot lurking on the Rim?

FIND BIG FOOT. WIN $1,000,000

The forested canyons and rugged highlands of Arizona's Mogollon Rim have long been rumored to be a haven for the mysterious human-ape creature known as Bigfoot. While out hiking, you may have even stumbled upon an unusual footprint, scat pile or bone and wondered---could it be? Now your incidental ape finds could turn into a cash cow; so dust off your cameras and scientific field testing equipment and get in the game for a chance at a $1,000,000 reward. Olympia beer, in patnership with The Falcon Project, are offering cash money to anyone who finds "irrefutable evidence" of Bigfoot. This evidence might include DNA (think, poop), skeletal remains and---of course---safe, live capture of the beast. Videos and photos will be considered as supporting evidence only and must be backed up by physical proof. A panel of experts will examine submissions for authenticity. Participants who harm Bigfoot or any other species will be disqualified, publically shamed and refered to law enforcement. This is not a hunting contest. Check out the web site below for full details, sighting reports and to participate in an online community of Bigfoot africinados. Disclaimer: no beer or cash was provided in exchange for this blog post. Nor was I under the influence when writing it.