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Saturday, February 1, 2014

EARTH & SKY at USERY MOUNTAIN PARK


MOON ROCK TRAIL & THE STAR IN ORION'S ARMPIT
Usery Mountain Regional Park

Moon Rock Trail

Admit it--this trail's name got you wondering, right? So, is the tread way littered with lunar debris? Sort of.  According to park Interpretive Ranger Brennan Basler "Ranger B", the trail's moniker derives from the fact that both moon rocks and those that line this trail are igneous in origin. So, except for stronger gravity, the foot feel here would be similar to what the Apollo astronauts experienced.  Additionally, the park has much to offer geology and astronomy buffs. On the terrestrial level, the park is situated in the complex volcanic landscape of the Goldfield Mountains. The rugged terrain was created by fiery eruptions, lava flows, churning magma cauldrons and waves of ash laid down layer-cake-style over millions of years. This part of the earth is quieter these days, and although the rock's rough-edges are being smoothed by the elements and adorned by Sonoran Desert life, the area's natural history is preserved in trailside cliffs and gullies.
Above the park, a nighttime canopy of stars and planets is celebrated with an astronomy expert during stargazing events. The final telescope-peeping night out of the season will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 which is the perfect time to view a waning moon, and the planet Jupiter hovering above constellation Orion--the club and shield-wielding hunter.  Orion dominates the winter sky and includes one of the largest objects in the universe visible to the naked eye---the star Betelgeuse (say: beetle juice) in its armpit. The variable red super giant’s girth is about 1000 times that of our sun and if it were placed at the center of our solar system, it would engulf Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and maybe even Jupiter. But, get out there to see it soon--it's nearing the end of its stellar lifecycle and will likely explode in super nova style in the next few thousand years, which in geological time, is tantamount to a wink.
Blevens Trail

LENGTH:  3.5-mile loop
RATING: easy
ELEVATION: 1860’ – 1895’
FEE: $6 daily fee per vehicle
GETTING THERE: 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa AZ
SUGGESTED HIKE USING MOON ROCK TRAIL:
From the trailhead staging area, hike 0.5-mile west on Blevins Trail (BL), connect to Moon Rock (MR) and continue 1.3 miles to Levee Trail (LV). Follow LV 0.5 mile to Crismon Wash Trail (CR-W), turn north (left), hike 0.9 mile back to BL, turn right and go 0.3 mile back to the trailhead.


STAR GAZING EVENT: Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. Group Picnic Area D.  Bring a lawn chair and dress warmly. No registration required.  No pets.
INFO: Usery Mountain Regional Park, 480-984-0032

Monday, January 27, 2014

PUPPY BOWL!


DOG ADOPTION HIKE: SATURDAY FEB. 1, 2014
Usery Mountain Regional Park

"Nazareth" participated in the January hike

With Super Bowl weekend comes your chance to enjoy the big game in a huddle with a new best buddy. This Saturday,  the public is invited to tackle the Merkle trail along with adoptable dogs from Maricopa County Animal Care’s Mesa shelter. “Wag & Walk” hiker dogs are already spayed or neutered and available to go home on the spot, usually at greatly reduced adoption fees. Many of these dogs have been waiting to find their forever homes for a very looooong time.  Could YOU be the hero that carries them the final yards for the "touch down" they've been dreaming about?  Even if you’re not looking for a new fur baby, hiking among a pack of happy tails makes for a memorable morning in the desert.

LENGTH: 1-mile loop
ELEVATION: 1950'
RATING: easy, barrier-free
FEE: $6 park entry fee per vehicle
TIME: 9 a.m.

GETTING THERE:
3939 N. Usery Pass Rd., Mesa AZ 85207
From Phoenx, travel east on US60 to the Ellsworth Road exit.  Go north on Ellsworth to the park entrance. Follow the main road to Merkel trailhead at PARKING AREA 6. 
INFO: Maricopa County Parks & Recreation, 480-984-0032