This post focusses on our activities of hiking and mountain biking and the creatures and flowers that we’ve photographed in March. Part 2 is all about the birds.
Our first hike in March was to Brown Mountain. It’s named after a gentleman named Brown who was active in the formation of the Tucson Mountain Park where it’s located. It’s a rather low bump to earn the title “mountain,” but perhaps “Brown Bump” wouldn’t seemed like much of an honour to Mr. Brown. The hike goes up, then along the ridge, down the other side and along the flats to the start for about six kilometres total. Here’s Doug near the high point of the ridge with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in the background. He’s wearing a knee brace which seems to help with his knee pain.
Our next hike was to Madera Canyon. Usually we go to the canyon to bird, and we slowly walk the lower trails. This time we continued up the nature trail to the end of the road (and a picnic site), then back down. We want to hike to the peaks in the background, but we want the snow up there to melt first.
This view of Golden Gate Mountain (left) is from the David Yetman trail in Tucson Mountain Park. Our hike started on the other side of the low pass in the centre of the photo. We found some trails to loop around at about the altitude that this photo was taken and then returned over the pass to our truck for a six kilometre hike.
We’ve hiked almost every trail within a half hour drive from our place, so we were happy to find this trail with such a great view of Sombrero Peak, (which we climbed in February.) The trail is in the northeast corner of Saguaro National Park (West) and is appropriately called “Scenic Trail.” We used it to link to a trail that goes to a pass between Sombrero and the outcropping on the right, and to an unofficial trail that we have previously used to as an approach route to Sombrero. It made for a pleasant afternoon walk on one of our cooler days.
Later in the month, we hiked again in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area to the “Phoneline” trail. The trail contoured along the sides of the canyon, below the ridge we climbed earlier. Here’s a panoramic view looking at the trail and the upper canyon.
And here’s a view of Wendy on the Sabino Canyon Historic trail that we used to get off the ridge and down to the road. An electric tram takes visitors up and down the canyon. We walked along the road back to the parking lot and met families with young children who had got off at the end of the route and hiked along as far as they had energy for, and then hopped back on the returning tram. The paved road made the sixteen kilometre hike achievable for us.
Our last hike in March was back at Madera Canyon, on the opposite side of the canyon from our earlier hike. We climbed higher on the trail to Bog Springs and Kent Springs, through juniper/oak forest into pine forest. There was snow along the side of the trail at our highest point. We were on the trail in a little over an hour from our trailer, which allows us to easily hike in the forest as well as in the desert.
We have probably been mountain biking more days than we have hiked. With hiking, we try to find new place to explore. With biking, we’re happy to ride the same trail and work on mastering the features or riding it a little bit faster. Plus, we’re finished the ride in less than an hour and a half which means we can read and relax in the afternoon… or do chores or work on blog posts or (for Wendy) sew!
Here are two more pictures of the trail at the Tortolita Preserve.
This post has a new section: “Creatures,” which includes photos of animals, reptiles and insects we’ve photographed. This young bobcat did not seem to be at all shy as it enjoyed the sunshine (and posed plenty of times) one day that we were birding at Sweetwater Wetlands.
This Desert Spiny Lizard was also enjoying a bit of sunshine on another day at the Wetlands.
Sun-bathing seems to be a theme here… This coyote at the Desert Museum has a favourite rock that it sleeps on.
This squirrel was also at the Desert Museum, but not part of a display. It’s one of the “wild” animals on the grounds, although this fellow seemed pretty tame.
This striped skunk actually was someone’s pet, but now has a home at the museum. Usually it is in its underground burrow, but one morning we were lucky enough to be there as it was being fed. We chatted with its caregiver and found out that when it came to the museum, it was so fat that it could only walk a few steps without resting. Now with proper nutrition it can move around easily, but the caregiver said it is still bulkier-looking than a skunk living in the wild.
This bumble bee is known as a Carpenter Bee, (genus Xylocopa.) This female is way too big to fit in the Penstemon flower, so she “steals” nectar by using her mouth parts to cut a slit at the base of the corolla, without pollinating the flower.
Every time we visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, there are new plants blooming. This agave is called “Our Lord’s Candle.”
This Mescal Bean flower is on a native shrub. All parts of the plant are poisonous containing the alkaloid cytisine.
The cactus garden at the Desert Museum is constantly changing. This view from mid-March includes blooming pink Penstemon and small yellow flowers in the Sunflower family.
Towards the end of March, we saw these torch cacti in bloom. This showy cultivated varietal is called “Flying Saucer.”
We also see some interesting flowers when we’re hiking. These “Fairy Dusters” caught our eye on a hike in the Tucson Mountain Park.
On the same hike, we got a close look at Ocotilla in bloom.
Although this March has generally had below seasonal temperatures, we’ve had some opportunities to eat dinner outside on our patio. For those of you interested in details, the candles are battery operated and the wine glasses have covers to prevent tiny flies from getting in.
And there were a couple of days when it was too hot to have an iron adding heat to the inside, so Wendy set up her pressing station on the patio under the canopy.
And every post must have an iconic sunset. This one was on March 29.
That wraps up the hiking, biking, flowers and creatures of March. Part 2 (posting soon) will be all about the birds we’ve seen.