Friday, May 5, 2017

San Tan Mountain Hike

On Saturday, the weather was expected to be breezy and cool and wonderfully sunny, so 
Greg and I went hiking!

Here's a little video I made of our fun experience:

We slept in a little bit and didn't want to drive an hour or more to get to any of our favorite sites, so we went to the closest park with good trails, San Tan Mountains Regional Park.

It's really close to "civilization," and my favorite trail (the Goldmine Trail) looks out over the city at the top, which I don't particularly like.  
I like it anyway because I like an elevation change when I hike (I like to reach some sort of high point during a hike, then come back down) and I really like the abundant animal life I've seen on that trail.

At the top (looking away from civilization):

The first half of the trail is flat and sandy.
There are interesting cacti and scrub bushes all around. 

Near the parking lot is a little pond with a windmill (that squeaks!)

Globe Mallow:

Saguaro blooms:

First lizard sighting!
He was not very excited to see us and ran away quickly.
We were happy to see him at all
and even happier when we realized we were able to capture some images of him!

Cholla ("CHOY-uh") or jumping cactus:

If you kick them with your toe by accident, they LEAP UP and stick on your leg or pants.
They're sneaky and dangerous!
That's how the plants spread and grow far away from the mother plant.

Greg suggested a back-to-back selfie: 

 But I wanted one of both of us from the front, too.

This hike had rocks with very interesting textures.
 It is/was a volcanic mountain range, after all.

Goldmine trail BOTH WAYS!

There's a temping trail right up to the top of a steep hill, but it's
not okay to climb because they're working to prevent soil erosion.

It's okay; there are plenty of other trails!

 Then we got to the steep and more interesting part of the trail! 

There was a small cairn to remind us we were on the right path,
but we didn't need it because the trail is very noticable! 

It got steeper!

 Here's another cairn we saw:

But we were happy!

 Looking back on the steeper part of the trail:

There's Greg!

And there I am! 

This last part of this section was extremely steep.
It looks as if the trail goes right off the end of the world.

 But it didnt!  You can see Four Peaks 
and the Flatiron at Lost Dutchman State Park in the distance.

A view slightly more to the East:

There's a little bit more to go UP before we get to the top.
That's Greg in the background.

 Along the way, we saw this amazing chubby guy!!!

At first I thought she was a Gila ("HEE-la") Monster
because she's so thick, but she's not. 

Maybe he lives in this nice hole?

Greg was very brave, even standing on the edge to get the best photos.

There are more trails along the other side.  

If you look carefully, you can see downtown Phoenix in the far distance.

It was extremely windy on the edge!

 I did a little more exploring, because last time I was there, I saw a tarantula and I was hoping to see another one.  No luck on that.


Perhaps next time we'll go all the way up there.  It's steeper and farther than it looks.

I tipped over on the way down and braced myself against a sharp rock,
which brought about First Blood of our adventure and left me a memorial wound.

Not too bad, of course!
Just enough to make me feel intrepid and outdoorsy.

Similar to the rock that sliced me:

On the way down, we saw this hummingbird delicately sipping from the cactus blooms.
Click on the photos to see them bigger.

Greg got this amazing one!!!!

On the way down, I decided to climb on top of some big boulders. 

There were staff people along the route, setting up signs for a night race that was going to happen that night.  It would be scary to run in the dark on pebbly trails.

And then we saw a Gila ("HEE-luh") Woodpecker drinking from the cactus blooms!!!
They are beautiful.
  You can see his lovely laddered back and distinctive red cap on his head.

I love being reminded how creative God is and I love seeing His attention to detail in
all His animals and plants!

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