I made these images from atop some of our local desert hills, Sunday, looking west, then north, and then west again as the clouds rolled in and did their thing….
I’m not sure when I learned about Indian Mesa, but I think it might have been when I was researching Lake Pleasant Regional Park and the surrounding area for an earlier post this summer, but at any rate, I’ve been meaning to get out there and see it for myself…and decided to do it after the temperatures cooled off a bit. So, this past Sunday, November 9…when the high temp for the day was supposed to be somewhere between 85 and 89 degrees, I started out early with the hopes of getting there and back before it got too warm. Things didn’t start well for the venture, though…the directions were missing a few pretty important details, or maybe I was just a bit dense that morning…so I didn’t arrive at the trail-head quite as early as I had hoped. It was still a very nice hike…and it even included water and Cottonwood trees….
If you’re interested in learning more about Indian Mesa, you can click on this link to be taken to the Wikipedia site that covers the subject. You can also click on this link to learn more about the Hohokam people who are thought to have lived there…. If you’d like to view the images in a larger format, you can click on any photograph in the galleries to be taken to a slide show…and then click on the “View Full Size” in the lower right corner of each frame to see the larger version.
In my driving through town and into the desert where I live, just north of Phoenix, Arizona, I have seen a great variety of the Saguaro Cactus…while they are all the same type of plant, it is incredible how different their sizes and shapes can be. I made these photos on my hike to Indian Mesa, just north of Lake Pleasant, in north central Maricopa County…and only about 15 miles north of my home. You can click on any photo to be taken to a slide-show that provides a closer view. If you’d like to learn more about the cactus, you can click on this link to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum’s fact sheet.
It is near amazing to my green and mountain-loving heart to see such greenery smack-dab in the middle of the Arizona desert, but there it is. I made this image from the bridge crossing the river during the same excursion with my little one in which we were not allowed to share the trail with the uncompromising rattlesnake…. Wishing a happy Friday to everyone…..
Hmm…I’m not sure, but I’m inclined to say, “Not,” as the petals look different than what they should. At any rate, these appear to be part of the Asteraceae family…and I found them in the meadows of Walnut Canyon and in the dry bed of Marshall Lake…both in northern Arizona, just south and east of Flagstaff.
You might remember that our explorations were cut short when my little one and I encountered the rattlesnake on the path along this river…about 100 yards downstream from this location, actually. The Verde River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Arizona and runs year-round…flooding sometimes during the spring from snow-melt and rain in the mountains and during the summer after the seasonal Monsoon storms. You can visit this website for more information on the Verde River Greenway.
My hike this past Sunday was in the Coconino National Forest just south and east of Flagstaff, Arizona.
The trail-head was 128 miles and about 90 minutes from my doorstep in north Phoenix…which is quite a change from my former hiking environment in the Salt Lake Valley…the Wasatch Mountains, in general, and, as pictured below, Little Cottonwood Canyon, in specific (among other places). You might remember me mentioning a couple of times in the past that I could be to the nearest trail-head in the time that it took me to drink a cup of coffee.
Ah, well…those are memories now…and where I live in this present stage of my life situates me, like I said, 128 miles away from this particular trail…yes, there are closer trails…and yes, most/many/lots of them are found in and among the desert “mountains”…with nary a bit of shade…and temperatures that soar up into the “hundred-and-some-teen” degree range (100 – 119 or higher)…so I drive north to the mountains.
At any rate, I hiked the particular trail that leads from Marshall Lake to Lewis Point…a 13.8 mile round-trip excursion through a Ponderosa Pine forest, down into what I understand to be part of Walnut Canyon, to the limestone prominence and canyon over-look of Lewis Point, and then back to the starting point.
This was a new forest and a new trail for me…a new experience, essentially. Another part of the newness was hiking through a forest where a wildfire had raged only three months ago. I’ve driven past locations along the freeways or highways that had been burned over the years and had hiked among the charred skeletons of scrub-oak trees that had been burned in many seasons passed, but I’ve never had the incredibly intimate and awe-inspiring experience of walking through a forest that had been so recently in flames. To add to the eeriness of the situation, there was visible and “smell-able” smoke in the canyon from controlled burning that the forest service was conducting many miles south.
Please remember that you can click on any image in the gallery to be taken to a slide-show where you can view the photos in a larger format.
If you’d like more information about the Fisher Fire, you can check-out this link from April of this year…it has another link to the Coconino National Forest’s Flicker account which shares images of their more recent (and historical) fire-fighting efforts, as well as many others that show the beauty of this northern Arizona national forest.
I didn’t know that this was a Jumping Cholla…thought it was a Teddy Bear Cholla..turns out that they’re actually the same thing..or so says this website, Sonoran Desert Plants. This particular species of cactus is quite prevalent in the desert area of north Phoenix.
I haven’t been out ON the lake yet, but these are a few more images from when my little one and I went out to the park for a visit a week or so ago…it was more of an exploration, actually…checking it out to see what we might do out there in the future.
I had mentioned in an earlier post how it was so strange in my experience to have Saguaro cacti in such proximity to a body of water like this…but here it is again….
Sailboats and speedboats on the lake….we hope to be out there in a canoe at some point….
While it’s not a true panoramic shot, comprised of multiple images, it is a wider-angle image that provides more of a panoramic view of a portion of the lake and the surrounding desert…with more of those Saguaro cacti and other desert vegetation.
Here are a couple of links about Lake Pleasant Regional Park in case you’d like to read more about it…just click on the blue highlighted text to visit the official park website and the Wikipedia site.
This is just a glimpse of the area to the north and west of Lake Pleasant Regional Park. It was close to noon on another “severe clear” day in the desert of Arizona…not a cloud in the sky and only recently attaining the temperature of “quite warm.”
Even though I lived in Arizona for over 20 years before moving to Utah, I still find it amazing to see so many Saguaro cacti. I guess I didn’t get out of the city very often back then…something that I have already begun to remedy since returning.
My little one and I encountered this bit of desert wonderfulness on Highway 89A, on a stretch of the road called “The Mingus Highway,” just south and west of Jerome, Arizona. The formal name of the plant is Agave americana, but it is commonly referred to as the Century plant. If you’d like to, you can check-out this link on Wikipedia for more information….and if you’re prefer not to visit the link, I’ll just tell you that, while it is referred to as the Century plant, it typically lives for 10-30 years and then dies after it blooms.
We saw probably half a dozen or more of the plants along the roadway, but this one was by far the freshest of the bunch…the others were either seriously late in their blooming season and had mostly wilted flowers or were already dying or dead.
Looking southeast over a tiny corner of Lake Powell…just north of Page, Arizona….
Sailboats and Saguaros just don’t seem to go together, but here they are at Lake Pleasant Regional Park in the extreme northern part of Maricopa County, Arizona.
My little one and I were out exploring again the other day…we drove about 15 miles from the house and found ourselves near and around Lake Pleasant Regional Park…a man-made reservoir that captures the waters from the south-flowing Agua Fria River and the Central Arizona Project canal system. I will likely share a few photos from the lake in one of my next posts, but I wanted to first introduce you to some other critters that we encountered while taking a short hike in the surrounding hills.
My son and I had seen some “horse-like” droppings along the trail and figured that they were actually from horses that were ridden through the area, so we were a little surprised to find these wild Burros out grazing among the trees and bushes on the northwest side of the lake.
Looks like the little one above still needs to grow into his or her ears….
My little one and I were taking a walk this afternoon, along the Verde River Greenway just west of the Tuzigoot National Monument, when we were suddenly and unexpectedly encouraged to turn-around and leave, or at least go find somewhere else to hike…… Seems that not everyone here enjoys sharing the trail….
If I were to guess, I’d say that it’s a “Speckled Rattlesnake,” although, without having a really good look at the markings directly on top of the creature, it’s difficult to be certain. You can click here to see what the Arizona Game and Fish Department has to say about the 13 species of rattlesnakes that live in Arizona…..
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had found a trail leading into the mountains and purposed to go hiking that evening. There had been uncommon clouds over the valley for the majority of the day and I hoped they might remain into the same evening, providing a classic desert sunset. While the clouds were a slight disappointment, the view from one of the nearby peaks made-up for what was missing relative to the clouds.
For those of you not familiar with the metropolitan desert that is Phoenix, Arizona, there are several neighborhoods or areas of the city that have their own names…some of them have, and others might still become separate incorporated areas or towns, distinct entities from Phoenix-proper, but for now they are simply named-areas that are familiar to denizens and nearby others. The particular area where I now live in the extreme north of Phoenix is named Desert Hills…and for good reason.