Monday we hiked the San Tan Trail at San Tan Regional Park, north of Coolidge. The desert there is full of Saguaro cactus, my absolute favorite. Some of them are very tall and others have many arms.
When a Saguaro dies, the green flesh falls off and only the skeleton is left. These come in all shapes and sizes.
This cactus appears to be dying and you can see the skeleton appearing at the bottom, while the upper part appears healthy.
For some reason, some Saguaros become crested and, instead of growing tall and sprouting arms, they grow these ornate tops. This is the first one we have seen in the wild. The Saguaro National Park web site says scientists don't know if the crest is caused by genetics or frost damage or something else.
This is a Teddy Bear Cholla cactus. The park also has lots of Hanging Fruit or Jumping Cholla, so called because the fruit sticks to the hide or clothes of those passing by so it can be transported to other areas to seed a new plant. In this photo, John is pointing to all the Teddy Bear pieces that have fallen, just waiting for someone or something to brush against them and carry them somewhere else. Don't be fooled by the name Teddy Bear; these plants are not soft and cuddly.
This Barrel Cactus looks like it is growing right out of a pile of rocks.
The parking lot at San Tan Mountain was full of horse trailers. The park has lots of equestrians.
These two cowboys stopped for a few minutes to talk. They are from Montana. The fellow bringing up the rear was on his first visit to the Arizona desert in winter. The younger man--probably the son--moved here a year ago when he married a woman from the Valley of the Sun. He makes furniture out of Saguaro ribs, as well as out of old barn wood. We enjoyed our conversation with them.
The San Tan Trail is rated "moderate in difficulty with a few challenging areas such as a 200+ yard section of wash." This sandy wash was difficult to walk in.