Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Walk in the Desert

Come on a walk with us!

Today we went to the White Tank Mountains, about 4 miles west of Surprise, Arizona. What a difference 4 miles makes! We saw how this area must have looked before all the houses, roads and strip malls were built.

We went with a woman who lives in the RV park and her grandson. When we first arrived at the White Tank park we stopped at the visitor center. The woman there cautioned us to be careful on our hike. "The rattlesnakes are active today," she said. The boys were a little nervous about meeting a scorpion or rattlesnake so they carried sticks in order to beat on the ground in front of us. They figured this would scare anything away. It may have worked. The only animals we saw were a couple of fast moving, tiny lizards.

Saguaro cacti are huge. They can grow as tall as 50 feet. If a saguaro has 5 or more arms, it is 200+ years old.

Saguaros were a source of wood for Native American tribes. This is a skeleton of a saguaro cactus.

Something about being in the desert makes one feel very vulnerable. Knowing that everything is either poisonous or painfully prickly doesn't exactly give one a comfortable feeling. There is nowhere soft to recline like in a grassy meadow, no happy sounds like a babbling brook, no shade from the relentless sun. The desert is very inhospitable. It's amazing to me that several Native American tribes called the Sonoran Desert home. Fascinating, yes. Homey, no.

The landscape doesn't welcome you with open arms, does it?

There is certainly nothing soft and cuddly about a teddy bear cholla, also known as a jumping cholla for its nasty habit of shedding spines on passersby. Our oldest son wouldn't go near one. He was convinced that the cacti shot balls full of needles at anyone who got too close. He kept waiting to see a ball fly through the air.

Ahh, back to civilization!


Dy said...

OH, to me, this is very much "home". It's such a unique, and astounding place, isn't it? I miss it.

Did you know that the Saguaro only grows in AZ?

And there are so many things there that are edible, medicinal, nourishing. Nopalitos and prickly pears. The mormon tea plant. Chamomile tea, anyone?

Gosh, you took lovely photographs. I hope you're having a beautiful trip! Thank you for sharing your photos.


Remudamom said...

That is beautiful. I lived in the deserts in Dugway, Utah for a while, but they weren't as pretty as these.

Christy said...

Thanks for the comments! All the different plant and animal life that thrives in the desert here is very cool. I'm so amazed at how people could live here before air conditioning and running water. LOL

I understand people settling in places like western Oregon because the land is so green and fertile with an abundance of wood for shelter and fuel. You don't need running water when you live near natural springs or creeks. The people living in the desert here before all our modern conveniences must have been very hardy!