Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hiking in the Desert Winter

In the last couple of weeks, I've been getting out to enjoy the weather. The weather in Phoenix during February is amazing! It ranges between 70 and 80 every day with clear skies. It almost makes the summer worth it ;) 

A couple of weeks ago, my mom and I went geocaching and hiking on Picacho Peak. It's very green right now and the poppies are just starting to bloom. First, we hiked part of the trail on the back side of the mountain, and then we went a little way up the front.

The view from our first geocache.
The poppies in bloom.
A poppy up close.
The view from behind Picacho Peak.
I'm not sure what's going on with this saguaro's arms. There are a lot of interesting ones behind Picacho Peak. Maybe the wind has shaped their arms? Like the trees on the Mogollon Rim?
The barrel cacti on Picacho Peak all have red spines that give them a cool red glow in the sunlight.

Picacho Peak from behind. It looks so much smaller from the back!
A close up of an ocotillo.
There were lots of interesting dead saguaros behind Picacho Peak. I don't think that area gets very much water.
You see this nurse tree scenario a lot in the desert. The tree provides protection to the saguaro while it is small. As the saguaro grows larger, it requires more water and space and eventually kills the nurse tree.

This saguaro would like to say hello!
It's rare to see the ribs on a dead saguaro splayed out like this, but there were quite a few behind Picacho.
Saguaro with down-turned arms :) More about that here.
That is just cool.
Moon rise :)
Picacho from the front.
The view from part of the way up the front. The Peak in the distance is Newman Peak.
Sunset starts
Newman Peak during early sunset. More about that here.

Last week, my mom, my aunt, and I all headed over to Dreamy Draw Park for a quick hike and some geocaching.
Genetic mutation?
My aunt and I with our cache find!

On Saturday, I headed back to Picacho Peak with Bill, my cousin Michael, and my dad. We went up the front half to the saddle, headed down the first set of cables, and then went down the backside instead of continuing to the top.

My dad and Michael. This shot makes me think of Iron Chef lol.
The view of Picacho Peak from part of the way up the mountian.
One of the smaller hills that juts off of Picacho Peak.
The top ridge of Picacho Peak.
Newman Peak.
Michael and Bill. Bill is very elusive and often hides from photographs. I can usually only get him in candid shots when he's not paying attention ;)
Check out that view!

The view from the saddle of the land behind Picacho.
View of the land in front from the saddle.

Another shot from the saddle.
Panorama I put together of the view from the saddle. I love the lines in the land. I think they're low points caused by washes and water flow spots where plants are more likely to grow.

Bill's shot of Michael taking a rest.
Michael and Bill taking in the view.
Michael and I on the saddle.
After climbing down hanging down onto steep, treacherous cables, we reached the fork in the trail. One way (the way most traveled) continues to the top of the mountain, where the other way leads down the back of the mountain. We decided to take the back way, which we soon found out had even more cables on a very steep, nearly vertical trail. I kept feeling like I needed a climbing harness during this part. I was sure glad I wore my Vibrams!
 Michael, on his way down.
I took this picture while I was half way down and hanging off some cables. I got Bill to pose! :)

Some wildflowers growing by the trail.
The specs of red are people climbing up to the top.
Some red barrel cacti. Taken by Bill.
Looking back up the mountain. Taken by Bill.
Michael enjoying the desert scenery.

Nice view of the hills and distant mountains. Taken by Bill.
I'm not sure why this saguaro was so skinny at the top.

 Hmmm...I think Bill's came out a lot better...
 The shoes on the trail!

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