Thursday's Task - 01/20/2021

Today's task is to post an image that has a unique back story. My image is of "Arizona's Christmas Tree." It is of a One-seed Juniper tree in the median of I-17 just north of the rest area at Sunset Point. Each year, for over thirty years, it would be mysteriously decorated by "unknown" people at Christmas time. Each time I passed it I thought "I have to take a picture of this." So one day I figured out a way to pull over without creating havoc, and took the image below out the window of my car. Many times it had survived brush fires that had approached right up to its base. Firefighters made special efforts to keep it from being burned. But in the summer of 2020 their efforts failed and the tree succumbed. My wife and I happened to drive by on the day after that fateful day on our way to Phoenix and saw the charred remains. Someday I will take another image of it.

Arizona's Christmas Tree.jpg


Recently, the Arizona Balladeer wrote a song about this tree dubbing it Scrubby. The video of the ballad is below. This second link below is another discussion of the Mystery Christmas Tree.

Arizona Department of Transportation - Arizona Balladeer Dolan Ellis sings ballad of Scrubby | Facebook

Unresolved: Who Decorates The I-17 Mystery Christmas Tree Of Arizona? (theghostinmymachine.com)
 
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Bart Carrig

Supporting Member
Love the tree and story Doug.

And Al, I've been looking for my old Etonics for years now; finally found them (second batch from the right). : )

bart
 

MonikaC

Well-Known Member
A back story, eh? Had to do an archive dive as I figured the best stories would be there. This was from Sept 2010. I'd had this trip planned, so even though we were evacuated from our house due to what at the time was the biggest wildfire in CO history, I decided to go. There was nothing I could do if our house had burned down, anyway. I had the clothes on my back (had to ask friends for things like socks), had bought an outfit to wear for work & some underwear. We had always planned on what we would take with us if we were ever evacuated, but never considered that we might both be out of the house & not have the chance to go home & get anything. I had a borrowed camera body (Canon 20D) and a rented lens. I borrowed a JetBoil stove & sleeping bag and headed to Bluff, UT. As I was checking in to the Recapture Lodge & I came to the line asking for my address, I hesitated & wondered if I still had a house there. I'd made reservations for a Hunts Mesa photo tour, so went on down to Monument Valley to meet up with the group. this was at sunset. 2 other photographers & I had decided to go to a similar spot. We each moved around as the evening went on and, newbie that I was, I had packed up & was heading toward the road when the sky lit up. I raced back to one of the spots I had shot at before & set up for this shot.

Hunts-Mesa-Sunset.jpg
 
A back story, eh? Had to do an archive dive as I figured the best stories would be there. This was from Sept 2010. I'd had this trip planned, so even though we were evacuated from our house due to what at the time was the biggest wildfire in CO history, I decided to go. There was nothing I could do if our house had burned down, anyway. I had the clothes on my back (had to ask friends for things like socks), had bought an outfit to wear for work & some underwear. We had always planned on what we would take with us if we were ever evacuated, but never considered that we might both be out of the house & not have the chance to go home & get anything. I had a borrowed camera body (Canon 20D) and a rented lens. I borrowed a JetBoil stove & sleeping bag and headed to Bluff, UT. As I was checking in to the Recapture Lodge & I came to the line asking for my address, I hesitated & wondered if I still had a house there. I'd made reservations for a Hunts Mesa photo tour, so went on down to Monument Valley to meet up with the group. this was at sunset. 2 other photographers & I had decided to go to a similar spot. We each moved around as the evening went on and, newbie that I was, I had packed up & was heading toward the road when the sky lit up. I raced back to one of the spots I had shot at before & set up for this shot.

View attachment 35542
Beautiful image, Monika. That is some of the best light I have seen at this location. Is the color due to smoke from wildfires to the west?
 

AlanLichty

Moderator
A back story, eh? Had to do an archive dive as I figured the best stories would be there. This was from Sept 2010. I'd had this trip planned, so even though we were evacuated from our house due to what at the time was the biggest wildfire in CO history, I decided to go. There was nothing I could do if our house had burned down, anyway. I had the clothes on my back (had to ask friends for things like socks), had bought an outfit to wear for work & some underwear. We had always planned on what we would take with us if we were ever evacuated, but never considered that we might both be out of the house & not have the chance to go home & get anything. I had a borrowed camera body (Canon 20D) and a rented lens. I borrowed a JetBoil stove & sleeping bag and headed to Bluff, UT. As I was checking in to the Recapture Lodge & I came to the line asking for my address, I hesitated & wondered if I still had a house there. I'd made reservations for a Hunts Mesa photo tour, so went on down to Monument Valley to meet up with the group. this was at sunset. 2 other photographers & I had decided to go to a similar spot. We each moved around as the evening went on and, newbie that I was, I had packed up & was heading toward the road when the sky lit up. I raced back to one of the spots I had shot at before & set up for this shot.
Did the wildfire smoke lend a hand for the sunset color show? Sure is a nice one although I can see how not knowing whether you still have a house might infringe on the experience of watching this.
 

MonikaC

Well-Known Member
Did the wildfire smoke lend a hand for the sunset color show? Sure is a nice one although I can see how not knowing whether you still have a house might infringe on the experience of watching this.
There wasn't a wildfire there, but there was undoubtedly smoke from the hogans of the people living there.
It was a great escape from reality.......
 

MonikaC

Well-Known Member
Beautiful image, Monika. That is some of the best light I have seen at this location. Is the color due to smoke from wildfires to the west?
I don't think there were any significant wildfires down there at the time. Probably smoke from the residents' hogans, though.
 

Jim Dockery

Well-Known Member
This shot is of my partner Dave engaged in the crux pitch on what was the most difficult and committing climb of our lives; The Grand Central Couloir on Mt. Kitchner's north face in the Canadian Rockies. This is looking straight up from the belay, so it is very foreshortened, and that icy mess above him is actually overhanging in places. The ice wasn't as good as we had hoped in this section so Dave couldn't get any reliable protection in - if he fell he'd likely hit me, then continue down the mountain until the rope caught him. He hoped the ice above would take a good screw, but it turned out to be just a shell over sugar snow which required some of the most technical, delicate, but also strenuous climbing I'd ever watched. By the time he realized how bad it was there was no way to climb back down, and without protection he couldn't be lowered with the rope, so he just had to commit, with certain severe injury/death the consequence of failure. Over a hundred feet up he could see a sling hanging down from the belay so he desperately aimed for that, but came up short when the icy crap he was climbing crumbled in front of him. With a last super human stretch up (which I never could have done - Dave is about 6'4" with an incredible ape index arm span) he managed to hook the tip of his ice axe pick into the sling and pull up to clip in to safety. It was the hardest pitch I ever followed and I was incredibly glad it wasn't my lead. Dave was totally drained, both mentally and physically at that point. He told me I'd have to lead the final 900 ft. of the climb, which ended up having one more similar pitch that was the hardest I'd ever led that also had no reliable protection. I finally pulled over a last overhanging cornice onto the top 22 hours after leaving our camp below the face, never so thankful to be alive. A few months later I got this shot published in a photo/poetry essay in Mountain magazine.

Kitchener-crux.jpg
 
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MonikaC

Well-Known Member
This shot is of my partner Dave engaged in the crux pitch on what was the most difficult and committing climb of our lives; The Grand Central Couloir on Mt. Kitchner's north face in the Canadian Rockies. This is looking straight up from the belay, so it is very foreshortened, and that icy mess above him is actually overhanging in places. The ice wasn't as good as we had hoped in this section so Dave couldn't get any reliable protection in - if he fell he'd likely hit me, then continue down the mountain until the rope caught him. He hoped the ice above would take a good screw, but it turned out to be just a shell over sugar snow which required some of the most technical, delicate, but also strenuous climbing I'd ever watched. By the time he realized how bad it was there was no way to climb back down, and without protection he couldn't be lowered with the rope, so he just had to commit, with certain severe injury/death the consequence of failure. Over a hundred feet up he could see a sling hanging down from the belay so he desperately aimed for that, but came up short when the icy crap he was climbing crumbled in front of him. With a last super human stretch up (which I never could have done - Dave is about 6'4" with an incredible ape index arm span) he managed to hook the tip of his ice axe pick into the sling and pull up to clip in to safety. It was the hardest pitch I ever followed and I was incredibly glad it wasn't my lead. Dave was totally drained, both mentally and physically at that point. He told me I'd have to lead the final 900 ft. of the climb, which ended up having one more similar pitch that was the hardest I'd ever lead that also had no reliable protection. I finally pulled over a last overhanging cornice onto the top 22 hours after leaving our camp below the face, never so thankful to be alive. A few months later I got this shot published in a photo/poetry essay in Mountain magazine.

View attachment 35552
I knew I could count on you for a good story!

Packs drop
Bodies crumple
Like old sponges left under the sink
Dried up and warped
From too much hard use

Jim Dockery
 

Ben Egbert

Forum Helper
Staff member
Wow, this is an incredible Story Jim, and my hats off to you for your dedication and effort in a sport few can or would attempt.
 
This shot is of my partner Dave engaged in the crux pitch on what was the most difficult and committing climb of our lives; The Grand Central Couloir on Mt. Kitchner's north face in the Canadian Rockies. This is looking straight up from the belay, so it is very foreshortened, and that icy mess above him is actually overhanging in places. The ice wasn't as good as we had hoped in this section so Dave couldn't get any reliable protection in - if he fell he'd likely hit me, then continue down the mountain until the rope caught him. He hoped the ice above would take a good screw, but it turned out to be just a shell over sugar snow which required some of the most technical, delicate, but also strenuous climbing I'd ever watched. By the time he realized how bad it was there was no way to climb back down, and without protection he couldn't be lowered with the rope, so he just had to commit, with certain severe injury/death the consequence of failure. Over a hundred feet up he could see a sling hanging down from the belay so he desperately aimed for that, but came up short when the icy crap he was climbing crumbled in front of him. With a last super human stretch up (which I never could have done - Dave is about 6'4" with an incredible ape index arm span) he managed to hook the tip of his ice axe pick into the sling and pull up to clip in to safety. It was the hardest pitch I ever followed and I was incredibly glad it wasn't my lead. Dave was totally drained, both mentally and physically at that point. He told me I'd have to lead the final 900 ft. of the climb, which ended up having one more similar pitch that was the hardest I'd ever led that also had no reliable protection. I finally pulled over a last overhanging cornice onto the top 22 hours after leaving our camp below the face, never so thankful to be alive. A few months later I got this shot published in a photo/poetry essay in Mountain magazine.

View attachment 35552
Holy _ _ _ _. An absolutely riveting story, Jim. I'm pretty sure you could write a book that would be a best seller in climbing circles. I know I would buy it. I am glad you are still around to tell these stories and share your wonderful images.
 
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