Mount Hopkins, Take Two; The Top.

Well, we didn’t make it up to the top last time so it’s To The Top this time…but first we must navigate the humid valley….and horror or horrors….witness the most skin-crawling of phenomena. I am so glad I am not riding a bicycle through this.

Holy Flying Ants Batman!


It’s a “hatch” or “mating frenzy” (help me out bug people) and it goes on, thick as can be, for at least 5 miles until we gain some altitude. Never a dull  moment for the plein airistas!

Our destination.


And this is about as close as we can get due to access restrictions.  We retrace for the perfect spot.


We are on a “sky island”.  An isolated vertical strata of differing ecological systems. What grows at one elevation doesn’t usually grow at another but there is still plenty of diversity in each strata. Visually we see patterns and colors shift as we travel through different zones.

Top zones include old pinion juniper and oak forests. Greens are more “blue” up here.

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Can’t forget the Killer view.


Major weather happening in the valley.


Check out this “crashing wave” stratocumulus a.k.a. Kelvin-Helmholz. This formation of cloud is very rare, occurs for just a minute or two and is caused by wind shear at a cold/warm air boundary. Very rare, cloud people.

Valerie goes for the big picture!

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I’m all google eyed for the observatory. It’s odd to see a square topped mountain.


The first “swish” in.


Uh, oh, there it goes…


Plein air is , “action painting”…


Time to turn around.DSC_0080 DSC_0079

Bigger is better, despite the technicalities.

The weather is moving in on us so we pack up and roll back down the hill.


Fresh petite sages, penstemon, firecrackers and ferns take advantage of the road gutter.


We barely miss this snake.


Closer observation indicates non poisonous.


We wait until it moves off the road to continue.  WOW. gopher snake, go.



As we descend flora appears more conservative and protective leaf-wise. Greens are “yellow”. The agave palmeri has a pink tinge to its blossoms.


O-O-O-Ocotillo DSC_0114

And our fave-the delicate pink mimosa dysocarpa.



Meredith Milstead, Whipple Observatory, 9x12, oil on canvas, 2013

Meredith Milstead, Whipple Observatory, 9×12, oil on canvas, 2013

2 thoughts on “Mount Hopkins, Take Two; The Top.

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