We are just 6.5 miles from the entrance to Usery Mountain Regional Park, one of several parks operated by Maricopa County, home of Phoenix. This week we have taken two early morning hikes at Usery Mountain. It has been important to get out early, because the temperatures are up into the low 90s in the afternoon. We haven't adapted to the Phoenix heat and have no interest in learning what it is like here in the summer.
Hiking in the Sonoran Desert is different than in the mountains of Colorado. We don't see evergreen trees, bubbling streams and willows. But we do enjoy the diversity of this desert environment. We have been here often in the last three years and we feel almost like we are coming home.
The park is covered with palo verde and several varieties of cholla cactus.
Monday we arrived at the trailhead at 7:45 am and found nine cars were there ahead of us. The trail was busy. We passed numerous people on the three-mile round trip trail up to Wind Cave. Rated as moderate, there is some elevation gain and a rocky surface. It was a good hike. We passed a number of younger, fit women, two of them running the trail. We also encountered a number of gray-haired, overweight men, including one who asked if we had seen any other "old geezers like him" on the trail.
In addition, we were visited by this ground squirrel, who was looking for something to eat.
Today we took a four-mile hike around Cats Peak. We had that trail almost entirely to ourselves, but it didn't have much of a climb. The quiet was very nice, however.
Today we saw the moon in the western sky, as well as several interesting saguaro cactus.