A follow-on post from a couple of weeks ago…
Heading north on Castle Hot Springs Road, just west of Lake Pleasant Regional Park in northern Maricopa County.
I was hoping for a second visit to the mesa when I launched out on the venture in May of this year, but there was absolutely no way I was going to make it from this approach. My first visit was in November of 2014 and you can see the images by clicking here. The locations presented in images 4-8 of that earlier post are all under water in this photograph.
We had an unusual amount of rain through the past Winter and Spring, which allowed Lake Pleasant to become fuller than it normally has been…or maybe it could have been as full in the past, but the water management people allowed more of it to flow past the dam…or there’s some better explanation of which I’m not aware.
At any rate, I didn’t make it to the mesa, but I did spend a nice hour or so out in the desert wilderness watching egrets, herons, cormorants, Canada geese, and other water fowl, hunting, fishing, and sailing about in the water on an overcast Arizona morning.
North and east of Lake Pleasant and just inside of the Agua Fria National Monument, trespassing again, in a near marsh-like drainage from the surround of desert hills, I found this unexpected microcosm thriving after the year’s abundance of winter and spring rains….
I wouldn’t bet any vital body parts on it, but I could swear that I heard the guy on the far left whisper that phrase to the person on his immediate left when I asked them out loud if they were all related. Nobody responded…they just looked at me…like I was the ass….
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….
smoke from california’s november wildfires drifted across the desert and found a temporary home in the sonoran desert north of phoenix…lake pleasant under haze…as seen from the distant end of the walkin’ jim trail
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.
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.