Saturday, May 16, 2015

April 11, 2015 Saguaro National Park & Mount Lemmon

"I believe in God, only I spell it Nature." - Frank Lloyd Wright

We spent our last day in Arizona at Saguaro National Park East (Rincon Mountain District) and at Mount Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest. Once again the weather was perfect and the scenery was beautiful. My week hiking in the wilderness has really soothed my soul, even if it has worn out my tired old body. I love exploring all the different places in the world, especially the wilderness areas. So here are a few...actually...a lot of pictures from our day spent outdoors.

"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. None of Nature's landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild." - John Muir

We spent the day driving along Cactus Forest Drive. We got out and hiked several times during the day.

First at the Mica View Picnic area.

Then at the Loma Verde Cactus Forest area. We made a loop of the Loma Verde trail to the Pink Hill trail to the Monument Wash trail.

This hike was very colorful.

The desert creates lots of interesting photo opportunities. 

Somehow this tree was still alive.

Another sign you don't see often. The African Killer bees bred with local bees here which created a very aggressive bee population. There are warnings about staying away from bee hives.
We were hiking and taking pictures at a different pace today. So at times it was like I was hiking alone...which made it seem so much bigger and wilder than when we hiked together.

Wandering through the favorite way to spend a day.

Everything seems to turn toward the sun in the desert.

Look at that big smile and those bowed legs.

Nature never ceases to amaze me.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin

Mountains in the background always seem to improve a photograph in my humble opinion.

This hike took a couple of hours due to all the colors of the blooming plants...not just stopping for pictures but stopping and taking it all in.

Cacti of all shapes.

Another way to travel through the desert.

I have no idea what kind of bug this is...we only saw them on this particular plant. OK, I spent 20 minutes searching and I now believe these are Iron Cross Blister beetles.

 "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it." - Alice Walker
Chrissy's shot from the side...
...and my shot from above.

We hiked back to the trailhead in the Monument Wash.

At times the wash was pretty deep.

Kennedy spotted this nesting bird...

...and I spotted this road where is Wile E. Coyote?

Our next stop was at Javelina Rocks where the flowers were blooming on just about every plant.

The ocotillo reaching for the sky.

While I hiked around the rocks...

...while Chrissy & Kennedy hiked up the rocks.

I eventually joined them but we never spotted a javelina...

...but Kennedy did find a desert tortoise high up on the rocks.

We were thrilled with this rare sighting.

After exploring the eastern half of Saguaro National Park, we had In & Out burgers for lunch. Then headed to Mount Lemmon.

Chrissy spotted a group climbing up this mountain wall.
We drove up the mountain, stopping to get out of the car and enjoy the incredible views along the way.

The desert reflecting in our rental car window.

We drove from desert to rocky mountain to pine tree forest in a couple of hours and a 5000 foot elevation gain.
"It is not much for its beauty that makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit." - Robert Louis Stevenson
Of course we stopped at the Visitor Center and supported the bookstore there with a few purchases that may be used as gifts this Christmas.
Chrissy made me stop to get this picture. We did not see any bears on this trip.

We stopped at several places on the way back down that we skipped on the way up... of them was Windy Point which had amazing views in every direction. This is where Bear Canyon ends. We hiked the lower end of Bear Canyon yesterday up to Seven Falls but the trail continued higher past there to this point. It was pretty cool to look down into that canyon from above today.

These flowers are not native...they were part of a memorial.

Kennedy doing yoga with a view.

So we said goodbye to Tucson and headed north to Phoenix...

...along the way we were treated to a beautiful sunset along I-10...

...a perfect way to end a great trip to the desert. 
I would like to thank Homer Shantz and Frank Hitchcock for their efforts in the 1930's to preserve this area now known as Saguaro National that I was able to visit it today. 

"Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries." Jimmy Carter

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