Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Hike of the Season

Friday we went on our first hike this fall in the Arizona desert. We chose the Wind Cave trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park; a hike we had done last year, as well. It is three miles, round trip, which isn't very long, but it is a pretty steep hike. The cave is above the light-colored layer of rock you see in this photo.

Since Usery Mountain is near Mesa, this short hike is very popular. We passed hikers and runners going in both directions all during the hike.

I don't know what this plant is, but there certainly is something growing on the leaves.

John was a little ahead of me on the trail, so he made it to the cave before I did. To me, the "cave" looks more like a shelf or overhang. Oh well.

My snack when we reached the top was a granola bar. The view of the city below is pretty nice, even if a little hazy.

From the trail and from other locations near Mesa, this sign pointing to Phoenix is visible. I have really wondered what the story of it was, so we stopped at the Usery Mountain Nature Center on our way out, to see if they could tell us. They are obviously asked that question often. They pulled out a photocopied sheet from August 13, 1956, The members of Boy Scout Air Explorer Squadron #13 spent five and one-half years putting up this huge marker. They carried cement, lime and dynamite up the mountain and dug mounds of rocks to create the sign. As long as the Empire State Building, the sign was described as the world's largest air marker.

It has been some time since we last hiked in the desert. In Colorado, I got used to using rocks and trees to stabilize myself during a hike. Friday I several times found myself reaching out to this plant. I quickly resisted leaning on it!

Somehow, one of the barrel cacti still had a flower on the top. It's a little late in the season for that.

The large arms of the saguaro cactus start out very small.

I wish I knew what kind of a flower this is.

I believe this dove was either very young or confused. It didn't try to fly away when we stopped to watch it.

This view of cholla and saguaro is one of the things we really enjoy about coming to the Arizona desert for the winter.


  1. John and I have camped once at Usery Mountain RP. We enjoyed it except for the sounds from the rifle range. I wonder if that flower is a fairy duster? Might want to look it up on the internet and see if the pictures match. Thanks for visiting me at A Camp Host Housewife's Meanderings and leaving comments. I appreciate you following along our journey.

  2. The scenery is lovely and the cacti are fascinating for this boreal forest person.