Walkin’ Jim Trail and beyond….

The morning started with the alarm and coffee and then a neighborhood street that led to Bell Road, to the Sonoran Desert Parkway, to Lake Pleasant Parkway, to the Carefree Highway and west past Lake Pleasant, then to Castle Hot Springs Road, and finally, five miles north to a trail-head in a parking lot that has been re-fenced with silver wire that is new against the morning, untarnished and unvarnished with desert sun and windblown sand, unrusted in the elements, bright and confining, restricting of early hikers looking for familiar portals that ride now in memory alone.

Common and uncommon things mix in a November sunrise.

Somewhere between light enough and yet not enough…we see destinations unfolding with the trail…like the white caps on the tips of the many saguaros’ arms with their densely packed and unfolding new spines…things to come.

One of many crossings of Cottonwood Creek…a familiar place with wild burros, great horned owls, and collared peccaries….

and lying on the desert floor, looking east…and finding that “distant fairyland of wonder and bright alarm.”

A creosote frame leaving an aromatic resin on fingertips….

…and the tiny treasures of desert wildflowers….

Still heading west…with the destination in the upper right corner…after many winding turns, hills, valleys, dips, and desert meadows….

A distant spot of white in a green and brown world….


Gaining elevation and looking east…we can see a bit of Lake Pleasant tucked into the haze covered hills…

…and south…faint waves of them…green, purple, blue…white…and gone….

Higher now, more of the lake…and the landmark of Castle Hot Springs Road.  You might remember that the haze is from California’s wild fires back in October/November.

The stark contrast of yellow against the greens and browns of the desert is a welcome change…it is even a surprise sometimes.

Walkin’ Jim Trail follows Cottonwood Creek up into the mountains, all the way from Castle Hot Springs Road…when the occasional mis-adventurer loses the trail on the way down the mountain, all he has to do is locate the proper drainage down from that mountain and follow it back into the stream-bed…and back to the parking lot where he started….

There were tadpoles larger than jellybeans in the pools along the way…more desert mysteries…marvels…Sonoran Desert surprises….

13 responses

  1. Mike Hohmann

    A nice hike. Haven’t been on one like that in toooo long!

    March 23, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    • It was a very nice hike, Mike…and I didn’t see another person all day. It was wonderful!

      April 13, 2019 at 2:06 pm

  2. Another fine walk documented with eloquence and an eye for the interesting . . . but I wonder about the lone Muncher On ( and of) The Green . . . . is he alone out there? Is he content to wander solitary paths?

    . . . I guess he wouldn’t be the only one.

    March 23, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    • Thank you, Emilio…and the lone Muncher was not alone…there was another one just to the right and back from this one..tucked away behind some trees…and no, he would not be the only one to be content wandering solitary paths. 😉

      April 13, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    • . . . them paths are worth wandering on . . . alone or not.

      April 13, 2019 at 11:39 pm

      • Indeed, they are, Emilio.

        April 27, 2019 at 10:07 am

  3. A truly marvelous hike. Worth getting up before the crack of dawn, making those first two very special shots possible. Imagine watching the sunrise from that hot air balloon. Not fun thinking of the haze from the ever increasing wildfires. Luckily the haze didn’t show in the closer shots. It was truly a joy to wander with you. I could use a bit of desert right about now. Have you gotten any super-bloom?

    March 23, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    • Thank you, Gunta…and it’s definitely worth the early wake…can’t get those sunrises otherwise, of course. I’ve been here so long, off and on, that I would gladly give you some/all of the desert right now…but I imagine the clouds and the rain could (?) get wearisome, too.

      I have seen some amazing photographs of other people’s captured super-blooms out on their wilderness hikes, but the closest thing I’ve seen have been some visually wonderful (to me) patches of globe chamomile/Stinknet that has overtaken the valley…it even made the news down here…as an invasive species (said the humans). 🙂

      April 13, 2019 at 2:17 pm

      • “said the humans” 😒

        April 13, 2019 at 6:00 pm

  4. What a wonderful walk, Scott….from the details (the white caps of the saguaros – desert signs of spring -such a wonderful detail) to the grand vistas (oh, those haze-covered hills!)….sharp eyes with that burro! Reading Gunta’s comment, I smile – she and I both live in the wet Pacific northwest (as you know) and we both long at times, for the dry desert with all of its magic, like that sparkling little pool with the tadpoles, and the pungent smell of creosote, oh, I’d love to smell that now. It wakes up the earthy spirit. Thank you, Scott!

    March 24, 2019 at 11:24 am

    • Thank you, Lynn…I’m very glad you enjoyed the walk…maybe you’ll get back to the desert after your European wanderings…or after the summer, anyway. And yes, that creosote has a great smell…I love the breeze in the desert after a rain for that singular reason….

      April 13, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      • I did get over to the other side of the mountains for a few days….bitterbrush and sage and wildflowers…not hot yet, and not all that dry yet, but plenty of pine and open space….

        May 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm

        • Sometimes that’s all we need…plenty of pine and open space!

          June 8, 2019 at 9:48 am

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