ERIC BERGESON: Photo Gallery — High Plains And Mountain Majesty
North of Sonoita, Ariz., are a lot of ranches. The elevation is over 4,500 feet, hence no saguaro.
People identify Arizona with desert; actually most of the state is NOT desert but mountains — and high plains with grasslands similar to this.
The ocotillo in the foreground will soon put on leaves along their stems and then form an orange bloom at the tip of every stem.
This grass is beautiful but actually was imported from Russia about 100 years ago, according to my cousin, cowboy Jeremy White, who visited last week. We toured this area.
At 4,500 feet, you start to see oak savannah like this, my favorite scenery in the world. This is a live oak, a type that does not drop its leaves.
Dead stuff is a part of the scenery as much as live stuff — hence the regulations in the national forests that you are not to take anything out, even dead stalks of agave.
In river bottoms about 3,000 feet, the Arizona sycamore show off their striking trunks, which seemed to glow even with the clouds.
Runoff from the rains of the past days, the first measurable precip in 160 days, make the rocks more striking.
Again, dead stuff is striking.
The lichens on the rock cliffs turned brighter with the rain. Those are oak trees, and they are not as small as they look.
As you come across the pass, you look down on Green Valley, the retirement town — and you can see the next range.
It was fun to wait for the sunbeams to hit the more interesting features.
The shiny rocks in the middle are wet from runoff from the recent rains.
Yep, things are greening up for spring.
Again, people don’t think of Arizona as a mountain state, but these mountain ranges aren’t small.
I thought the cloud over the mountain was a nice touch. It quickly moved on.
Moving back toward Tucson, I stopped at San Zavier Mission. From there you can see into another mountain range, this one within Tucson’s city limits: the Tucson Mountains.
I could also look 20 miles to the northeast and see that the Catalinas, an even larger range than the Santa Ritas, were getting some rain, as well as a few shafts of sun. Most of the city of Tucson lies between here and there.
The sun comes out and lights up the San Xavier Mission, built by the Spanish in 1797.
Looks like a good alfalfa crop. At least for February.
A rare cloudy day in Arizona is a treat, “the mountains get moody and dramatic,” according to Eric Bergeson, who recently took a trip southeast of Tucson through some ranch country and then over the Santa Rita Mountain range.