Sage Peak

Sage Peak can be approached from several directions but I've only done it by heading up the trail out of the Rucker Canyon campground.

May 28, 2006

One of the columbines that were blooming in the stream bed of lower Rucker Canyon.  Like many of the lower canyons in the Chiricahuas, it can get pretty warm in the summer but the stream is kept moist from precipitation draining off the crest.  This allows the canyon floor to be shaded by pines and Arizona Cypress while the canyon slopes are much more bare and shrubby.

View of cliffs that rise above the canyon as it makes a sharp hook to the north towards Chiricahua Peak.

Looking back down canyon from farther up the trail.

Looking up canyon towards Chiricahua Peak which is barely hidden just right of center.  The nub just left of center on the ridge is Paint Rock which is a large block of volcanic rock colored by mineral staining and lichen similar to the cliffs lining the canyon below.  The bare patches on the slopes are areas burned so heavily by the Rattlesnake Fire of 1994 that they so far have supported little regrowth.

The peak itself is fairly brushy and tree covered so the views have to be picked out.  This one looks north across Rucker Canyon towards the south end of the Chiricahua crest which is capped by Chiricahua Peak just to the right of the dead tree top.  The Dragoons can be seen at far left across the valley to the northwest and the lookout tower on Monte Vista Peak is a speck on the peak just left of the two trees poking above the crest.

The view towards the southeast across the grassy plain of San Bernardino Valley.  The small isolated hills in the valley towards the right end are maars, which are steam explosion craters from subsurface heating.  Some smoke from a forest fire is just starting up in the Animas Mountains in New Mexico, and the long ridge running inbetween is the southern end of the Peloncillo Mountains which run north-south along the Arizona border.  The Mexico border runs a little to the south (right) of the two mountain ranges.  There's a substantial amount of drug traffic running through the valleys in this area since they are relatively flat and almost entirely undeveloped wide open spaces.  I've never seen evidence of it down there myself, but plenty of residents have frequent personal experience with it.

While coming back down, Zoey gets a little ahead of us on the switchbacks in an area of burn.  Open burn areas like this are typically colonized by ferns on the upper slopes of mountains in southern Arizona.