Monday, December 7, 2015

Marcus Landslide and Other Matters



We took a very interesting hike the other day on the Marcus Landslide Trail, which begins at the Tom Thumb trailhead in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale. This is an interpretive trail with signs along the way describing the geological forces that led to a massive rock landslide about 500,000 years ago. The four mile round trip trail is fairly easy except for the final loop section which climbs up to views of the remnants of the landslide.





If you like the Sonoran desert and rocks, this is a great hike. And we added a new word to our limited vocabulary of geological terms, grus (pronounced groos), which is crumbled granite formed by weathering. In our own terms, grus is the gravely stuff that makes our boots and bike tires want to slip out from under us on the trail. Be warned, the trails around here are covered in it.


There are also lots of mushroom shaped rocks, and huge boulders strewn around.






The lighting was not good for photos of the actual landslide, but this is just a small section of the 4,000’ long slide.



As we were entering the preserve parking area, I noticed a large bird on a saguaro.


Jim stopped to get a closer look, and we later determined it was a Harris hawk.


It flew off and landed on some nearby rocks, where it joined four others. Unfortunately a car came up behind us who had no interest in bird watching. They hurriedly drove around us which caused the hawks to all fly away.


Now for the rest of our week. We decided to take advantage of an internet special at Fountain Hills Dental Care. $59 for cleaning, x-rays and exam.  Luckily we both got good reports, and since neither of us has any issues right now, we might actually be able to stay away from Mexican dentists this winter.

I spent my usual Thursday morning with the cats, and on Friday I coerced Jim to come along to help transport and set up for the annual Holiday Pet Festival in Scottsdale on Saturday. Fearless Kitty Rescue sets up a booth there to sell cat-related items as a fundraiser and PR for the shelter. We loaded the back of the Subaru with tables, chairs, and boxes, and along with several other volunteers got things looking pretty good.

The festival takes place at Westworld, a huge equestrian and event center.


This is Kim, one of the founders of the rescue, goofing around with Jim and the Fearless Kitty mascot. Can you tell how much fun he was having?


We made quite a transformation in just a couple hours. Since we didn’t go to the actual event on Saturday, I haven’t heard yet how they made out.

McDowell Mountain Park 2015, Fountain Hills, AZ1

And last evening just after sunset, Miss Take to the Highway, Suzanne, came rolling in, here to spend a couple days before she jets off to Texas for the holidays. We’re planning a hike and maybe even a bike ride. We’ll see how it goes.


  1. That's a classic "I don't want to be here" photo of Jim… perhaps he was a cat in his former life, like Garfield "just feed me and then leave me the hell alone and we'll get along just fine."
    Box Canyon Mark
    PS Take Suzanne bike shopping :)

  2. I too learned a new word today. Guess I've been living with grus for years in Yarnell. Those mushroom rocks look a lot like large bones. Say hi to Suzanne and have a great hike. Bill and I are going out tomorrow near the Whitehouse area.

  3. Those hawk shots are fantastic! I know I've never had a confirmed sighting of Harris hawks, they are beautiful.

    How fun to have a mini meet up with Suzanne!

  4. Love the big mushrooms. The hawk on the saquaro is beautiful, and I've never seen a cast of hawks in the wild like that! Nice shot before the driver scattered them. Always nice to get a clean bill from the dentist :-) Hope the kitty booth did well raising funds - it looks great.

    1. The rescue made over $700. As one of the founders said, they can remove a lot of cat's reproductive organs with that!

  5. How nice to see an interpretive trail that long. I do enjoy learning about all the things I see as I wander around. So grus is that small pebbly stuff on the trails in granite areas that causes me to fall as I climb down the trail!? It is slippery! Always fun to learn new words. Thanks! Those are the coolest rocks!!

    I am sure the kitty products went like hot cakes. I am looking for Christmas gifts for my grandcats:) Love Jim's excitement:)

    Have a wonderful time with Suzanne:)

  6. Cool rocks! By the way you guys are on our mind. We are less than a week from Pizza Port and you know what that means. This year I'm going for a BUI. Will you be stopping by sometime this winter?


    1. Oh, we are so jealous! Suzanne has been trying to talk us into another visit to SD, but as much as the beer is calling us, we aren't sure we are ready to deal with that traffic again!

  7. Thanks for the new geology term. Dimes to donuts I can't remember it but right now I do. Love how Jim in yellow stands out in the pictures. What a great picture of that hawk. I've never seen a Harris before. How amazing to see a group of 4 and then have someone scare them all away. Bummer. Wonderful of you both to help so much with kitty rescue.

  8. Why does that look of aggravation on Jim's face look so familiar to me? Seems like I have seen it somewhere recently. haha!

  9. Accidentally deleted this post from Laurel.

    Laurel (
    7:35 PM (7 minutes ago)
    to me
    Laurel ( has left a new comment on your post "Marcus Landslide and Other Matters":

    So cool that you saw a family of Harris's hawks! We've seen a couple at a time on desert hikes, but never that many together. They hunt cooperatively, which is unique to raptors. Wonderful photos.

  10. Your post is awesome. Love the rocks, the information, and the photo of the cast of hawks is unique and really good. Thanks. Oh, and now I know what I call the marbles on the trail are really grus!!

  11. I think I saw three of them yesterday on our way home from my dental surgery. I wished i can see them again.