Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Important mountains

So why do I call them important mountains? What distinguishes these big heaps of rocks from others in our vicinity? For starters, today's pictures are of important mountains to the north of town; I captured the images on Sunday as we headed to (and from) Chino Valley, which is reasonably flat and serves to highlight, for example, Bill Williams which is due north of SR 89 for much of its length. As you can see, this particular volcanic peak stands by itself. In fact, all my important mountains are notable for standing quite apart from their surround.

As do the Sullivan Buttes, to the NW of Chino Valley. As I recall my geologic map of the area, the buttes are neither granitic nor volcanic, but instead limestone. There's some fascinating real estate up in the middle of this formation, BTW.

Although Granite Mountain is not really free-standing, it is nonetheless outstanding because it is a couple of thousand feet higher than the nearest peak to the left, Little Granite. The view from SR89 is revealing as it shows the long tail of Granite that extends far to the north.

The glorious sight to the north, however, in all seasons is San Francisco Mountain -- known locally as The Peaks. By last Sunday, enough snow had fallen in the high country to outline the top. As an exercise, let your eyes follow the lines on the extreme east and west upward to sketch in what once was a much taller mountain, similar to Fuji. According to the US Geological Service, San Francisco Mountain is the only stratovolcano in the San Francisco volcanic field and was built by eruptions between about 1 and 0.4 million years ago. Since then, much of the mountain has been removed to create the “Inner Basin.” The missing material may have been removed quickly and explosively by an eruption similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, Washington, or it may have been removed slowly and incrementally by a combination of large landslides, water erosion, and glacial scouring. If you want to track the weather at The Peaks, here's a webcam.

My favorite view of The Peaks is at the top of Willow Creek Road heading north; as you round a bend, suddenly the huge mountain looms. Zap. In your face. An exhilarating moment! And, yes, I'll get around to identifying the important mountains to the south one of these days. Real Soon Now.

Linkage: Choice links to flowers and green, growing plants are featured at this month's Berry-Go-Round, a botanical blog carnival. And just to show that there's a blog for about any subject you might imagine, you should go visit Cake Wrecks. That's right, a place to memorialize baking disasters.


Warren said...

Looking at the San Francisco peaks always seemed to bring Flagstaff closer too... By highway a bit of a drive, but wait, its just at the base of those peaks...

Anonymous said...

Super photos. I like the snow. On the SF peaks, not here. Ha

Anonymous said...

If you love that view of the Peaks Granny you should book a flight out of Love Field and head north! I can imagine you would need extra batteries and memory cards.

Anonymous said...

I'm bookmarking this post, GJ, as I've always wondered which peak was Bill Williams. Great reference piece!!

Please do cover not only the southern ranges, but the east (Mingus, etc.) and the west (Prietas?).

I'll bookmark those posts, also.

Humphries Peak, the tallest of the San Franciscans, is the western holy mountain of the Dine' (Navajos). In their mythology, four peaks guard the borders of Dine'tah (Navajo Nation), and Humphries is the western guard.

I wonder how the Quad-City mountains figure into the Yavapai-Prescott tribe's mythologies?

~Anon in AV.

sheoflittlebrain said...

Lovely post! Your camera really does take wonderful pictures on the fly...
The cake wreck site is fun and I may have an entry. We always make an Easter bunny cake..last year if failed so badly that E took over the decorating and labled it road kill!

Granny J said...

warren -- those peaks show up from quite a distance because they are tall -- the tallest in the state at 12,643 ft. The neat thing is that you can see they from most perspectives as you drive to Flagstaff == until you get into the pines. That's a good reason to go via Ash Fork and Williams -- more views of The Peaks.

steve -- a good dusting of snow brings out the essence of Mountain.

style -- that's a trip I'd love to take, but I think in a chopper to linger over the more interesting sights, for instance, The Matterhorn.

anon av -- my rule of thumb -- Bill Williams has its high point to the east, the Peaks have the high point to the west. Also: Bill williams is the 2nd highest of the volcanic mountains on our end of the rim & so is visible, as opposed to Sitgreaves, for example.

brain -- the wonderful thing about digital cameras is their high light sensitivity -- this means high speed shutters that allow all sorts of great picture taking from a moving car.

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