Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.
Oracle Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Saguaro East National Park Volksmarch - Thursday, March 14, 2019

We had a leisurely morning in the RV before we headed to the Volksmarch check-in spot at 10:30 a.m. After signing in for the walk at a hotel in east Tucson, we drove 7 miles to the Broadway Trailhead at Saguaro East National Park.

Our weather was beautiful: sunny, cool, and breezy. I started out with a windbreaker but took it off within the first two miles.
Rather chilly winds at the start of the walk.
Even Bob had long sleeves, but
that was to protect himself from the sun.
A beautiful vista of desert and
snow-covered mountains.
 In the first mile, we arrived at a small picnic area. A number of people had claimed most of the picnic tables for lunch. We continued on the Broadway Trailhead for a short distance past the picnic area. We then took numerous trails -- with names like Squeeze Pen and Pink Hill -- in a 10k loop around the Broadway Trailhead parking lot. 

Cactus wren surveys all from atop a saguaro.
A crested or cristate saguaro on the left.
Snow-covered Tucson Mountains with radio towers on top.
This is a park dedicated to saguaro (pronounced sa-WAH-ro) cacti and includes Saguaro East Rincon Mountain District and Saguaro West Tucson Mountain District.

Saguaro cacti have a lot in common with trees. For example, seedlings grow best when sheltered by "nurse trees." In a coniferous forest, tiny plants and trees can be found growing on "nurse logs." Saguaros in some places grow together so densely, they're called cactus forests. Birds make homes in saguaros just as birds make homes in other types of trees.

From the national park brochure: 
"Saguaros grow very slowly at first--an inch or so during their first six to eight years. It may be 70 years before they sprout branches or arms. They reach full height, 40-50 feet, at about age 150. The tallest may reach 75 feet. Long, woody ribs support their multi-ton bulk.
"Saguaros collect water through shallow roots extending about as far outward as the main trunk is tall. As saguaros soak up water, accordion-like pleats in the trunk and arms expand to allow for storage in the spongy flesh. Waxy skin reduces moisture loss. Spines shade the plant, shield it from drying winds, and discourage damage from animals.
"Cream-colored flowers appear in early summer. White-winged doves, lesser long-nosed bats, honeybees, and moths feed on nectar and pollinate as they go. In July the deep-red fruit ripens, food for animals and humans. Doves, bats, javelina, and fox are among the animals that eat the fruit, while pack rats and jackrabbits eat the flesh of the cactus.
"Birds find not just food in saguaros, but homes as well. Gila woodpeckers and gilded flickers make nest holes in the trunks and large limbs. Others occupy abandoned holes or build nests in upper branches. Raptors perch on the tallest branches to spot prey."
We did not spot any wildlife today, except a few types of birds and some butterflies. Horses are allowed into the park and the trails show it, many of which had deep ruts from horses' hooves.

Cholla or "jumping" cactus.
A few small wildflowers are blooming.
Well-marked trails, but you need to know
how to read them. We're headed to the
Mica View Trail.
Today's weather and views are spectacular. The mountains in the distance were snow covered from a recent storm. The trails took us up and down small hills, and we crossed two shallow creeks (on strategically placed rocks). Hiking poles helped with stability across the stepping stones.

Mostly little wildflowers in bloom at this time.
These are some very old saguaros.
See Bob? He's 6' tall.
Yellow evening primrose.
Bob is by one of the stream
Crystal-clear, long-distance views.
Ocotillo cacti's red blooms are
just starting at the tips of the stalks.
Ferocactus wislizeni (Fishhook barrel cactus)
Cholla cactus (foreground);
saguaro cacti (background)
The typical trail we hiked on today.
Another cristate saguaro.
Saguaro forest.
When we finished our walk, a park ranger was by the side of the road with this burro. Too cute not to take a photo! Next stop: lunch at Safeway deli.

Apparently a national park burro.
Since we were in the area, we drove over to the National Park Visitor Center. 

After watching the slide presentation and looking around the small museum, we decided to do the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. The terrain was very hilly. Bob and I thought the scenery was pretty much the same as on our 10k walk earlier, only the walk was more up close and personal. We did the Desert Ecology Walk (only 1/4 mile) which was pretty lame after all that we had seen earlier.

Gotta love those views!
Cactus Forest Loop Drive.
The one place I wish we had gotten out of the car on the Cactus Forest Loop Drive was Javelina Rock. People were climbing all over it. I love scrambling about on rocks.
Javelina Rock.
Back at the Visitor Center, there is a lovely tile mosaic of the Sonoran Desert. I took a few photos of it, along with the identification key to plants and animals on the mosaic. This is a beautiful work of art.

Tile mosaic (?) of the Sonoran Desert.
Gambel's quail and coatimundi.
Mountain lion and red-tailed hawk.
Western Collared Lizard and Cactus Wren.
Identification key to flora and fauna.
After a long day of hiking and exploring, we made a stop at AT&T to inquire about our new phone and internet plan, and to pick up something we forgot at Walmart yesterday. We then headed back to Bar J RV Park for the night.

Tomorrow, we will do a 10k Volksmarch in Sabino Canyon AND an 11k Volksmarch in downtown Tucson. Until then, Travel Bug out. 

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