First of all, Sylvia wants to thank all of you who wished her well on her Birthday. She had a great day, even if I have to say so. Our daughter in law sent us a text in the morning wishing her a Happy Birthday and ensuring her that I would have something nice planned for her. Talk about pressure! I think I did OK though.
We’ve been keeping ourselves occupied with friends, sports and hiking club activities this week. On Wednesday we weren’t interested in taking a challenging hike as I was still rather tender from my pulled muscle. We got an invite from our friends Keith and Linda to hike the Hieroglyphic Trail which we’ve done a couple of times before, and as it’s a fun hike and not too long or too taxing we were delighted to tag along. The trailhead is only about 10 minutes from the RV park, and the hike is only 3 miles round trip with less than 600 feet of elevation gain so I thought it would be a good test.
As I’ve said earlier the desert is extremely green this year. While we personally haven’t seen more than 20 minutes of rain since we left home in November there was quite a bit of rain in this area in December, and it’s allowed the grasses in the desert to flourish, and turned the various bushes and trees a brilliant green.
The Saguaro cactus are very plump and healthy looking. The ones in this area are relatively young. It takes about 50 years for these cactus to start developing arms, and there aren’t that many in this area with arms. The trail was quite busy, as we must have passed about 50 other hikers in our travels.
Despite the name of the trail the highlight is the pictographs at a water source up in the hills. Look closely and you can see several ancient drawings still visible on these rocks today.
There wasn’t a lot of water at the site. We’ve been here 3 times, and while it was almost dry the first time, the creek was almost impossible to cross last year as there was so much water. There was just a trickle of water this year.
We had a great time with Keith and Linda.
On Thursday we started our day with a couple of hours of Pickleball, and had some time to clean up the truck and run some errands in Apache Junction. We also had some down time as we’re finding the pace we’ve been keeping lately has left us pretty bushed. Nap time in the lounging chair helped that a bit.
On Friday we decided to head out on the scheduled 6 mile hike from the White Canyon Wilderness to the Gila (pronounced Heela) River. The hike was an in and out fairly flat trek and at 6 miles we considered just taking a snack along as we’d probably be home shortly after lunch. We eventually decided to pack a lunch, and we’re glad we did. It turned out that the distance from the trailhead to the river where we turned around to head back was about 4.5 mile one way, and much of it was down and then up a creekbed filled with boulders. The trailhead is about 45 minutes away from the park, at the end of a fairly nasty dirt road. My truck got it’s baptism in dirt, and all the work we did to clean it up yesterday was undone in short order. At least I didn’t end up scraping the sides of the truck on the overgrown bushes on the road side. The horizontal marks on most of the vehicles that go off road in this area are called Arizona Pin Stripes. I’m going to try and avoid getting any on my new shiny truck.
The temperatures when we drove to the hike were pretty cool. It was only 3C or 38F at times when we were on the highway, and as much of the first part of the hike was in a narrow canyon we didn’t see much sun or warmth for quite a while. The hillsides above us were bathed in sunlight though, and we can’t get enough of the clear blue skies we see down here.
The rocks in this area are full of minerals, and the colours in the hillsides are pretty special.
We were all thrilled to pop out of the shadows into the sunshine. It warmed up pretty quickly once we could see our shadows. In fact it got quite warm by the time we turned for home.
The creekbed we were in was difficult enough to walk down, but we found we were following tire tracks all the way down. I don’t know who was jeeping in this area, but he didn’t do his vehicle any good as some areas looked impassable and there were a few spots where we saw scrape marks on the rocks.
I think somebody with some talent could turn this into an Arizona version of Mt Rushmore.
It was really nice to finally break out into the wide open spaces where we could see the sun for more than a few minutes at a time.
We finally reached the Gila River just before lunchtime. This same river runs all the way to the Colorado river on the California border. We’ve passed over it several times in our travels by vehicle, and I always thought that it was a dry riverbed at this time of the year. I was surprised to see this much water here.
It’s amazing to see how water and sand can scour the rocks in the valley.
Cactus will grow absolutely anywhere. Isn’t this little guy cute!
Most of us made the trek to the river, while 5 had to turn back early as they were getting tired. Six others took a side route along the river and walked about 4 miles further. From the pictures taken by our friend Deb, it looks like they saw some pretty interesting looking Saguaro on this leg of the trip. I stole one of her pics to show you. All I know is that most of us were really happy to finally get back to the trucks after our little 6 mile flat hike which was actually a 9 mile boulder hike, was over.
After a busy few days we’re quite tired, and will probably take it easy tomorrow…..after pickleball and/or softball practice at least.