Two Crenulated Saguaros

Tonto National Forest, Globe District

March 4, 2019

AZ Trail Cb, scenery Ab, 4march2019

Scenery we were going to enjoy.

We carpooled at the meeting place and 29 people sat down in nine high-clearance vehicles.  The hike leader, Gene, with his sweep Al, took the lead in the caravan.  Gene drove us over Gonzales Pass and past the entrance to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum (BTA).  As we approached the Superior (town) airport Gene explained to us who were in his red 4Runner that the helicopter hoveringover the runway was lifting up a piece of geo-physical survey equipment.  It was attached to a long line that was attached to the underbelly of the helicopter.  This equipment was a round object held in place in a huge (metal?) circle by several bars going from the round object out to the ring.  The helicopter would fly a grid over the land and Resolution Copper Mining Company would receive information about underground conditions.  Gene said the magnetic and gravitational fields that the earth send out tell information about the earth’s crust.

AZ Trail A02, Helicopter and geo-physical instrument, 4march2019

The helicopter flew over a wide swath of desert foothills and low mountains near where we hiked.  We saw the contraption several times during the day.

Gene then added that he had forgotten to turn off US 60 onto the Forest Service road he intended to drive on.  Gene later told the people in the other vehicles that he had known exactly when the helicopter was going to lift off and had planned the short, extra excursion on purpose.  Those twenty-five people weren’t buying it.

Gene made a U-turn and headed back towards Gonzales Pass.  When we were at the turnoff to BTA we turned north onto FR 8.  After about a mile and a half of dirt road we came to a “Y.”  Gene turned left onto FR 650.  We drove on this road for a few miles, then we parked. It had been very slow going with the vehicles because the recent rain had washed away a top layer of soil and exposed the rocks that had been underneath.  Looking at the Tonto National Forest planographic map it looks as tho we may have driven four and a half miles on FR 650.  I won’t guess at the driving time.  It was slow.

A short distance before we parked we passed a dense strand of Mexican Gold Poppies alongside the dirt road,S and yellow fields of same flowers on the adjacent hillside.  We convinced Gene to stop and the back seat people all got out, walked a few feet back, and took pictures.

AZ Trail Ac, FR650, gold poppies Aa3, 4march2019

Our objective for this hike was about one-and-a-half miles up a section of the Arizona Trail beside which we had parked.  Soon after we started hiking Gene leaned down to pick up something from the ground.   He then began feeding the group small bites of dusty, dirty food.  He identified it as canaigre (Spanish) or desert rhubarb (Rumex hymenosepalous).  Some people accepted bits of leaves and others chewed on very small pieces of stalks.  We all agreed the plant was tart.  Bill thought it would make delicious rhubarb pie because he loves the pie made tart.  Myself, I always preferred mother’s very, very sweet rhubarb pie.

AZ Trail Cc, scenery Ac, 4march2019

Scenery along the way.

Because the rhubarb — canaigre — was so well received, further down the trail Gene snipped some thin leaves and stalks off a different plant and tried to feed them to us.  He said the plant was called odora (Porophylum gracile).  Most of us merely smelled the crushed plant pieces but a few tried chewing them.  One of those that chewed said the plant tasted “perfumy.”  Others said nothing.  I crushed a small piece of stalk and smelled it.  I smelled turpentine.  It did not go into my mouth.

When we came to the area of the first crested saguaro Gene paused the group.  Several of us climbed the little hill and took pictures of the interesting, tall cactus.

AZ Trail Db, crenulated dog saguaro Ab, 4march2019

The abnormal growth looked like a head.  The group said it was a devil’s head.  To me it looked like a dog’s.

Just around the bed we came to a wide ravine and walked up it a ways to eat lunch on a nice set of small boulders, altho it was only about 11:25 a.m.  Just uphill from us was the second crested saguaro.  Of course, many, or all, of us took pictures.

AZ Trail Fb, ravine side crenulated saguaro Ab, 4march2019

One woman returned from her uphill climb with a short stem of lovely little yellow flowers.

AZ Trail Gb, Yellow Bells near ravine side crenulated saguaro Ab, 4march2019

Gene identified them as Whispering Yellow Bells (often shortened to Whispering Bells; Emmenanthe penduliflora).  He said he had seen the flowers only once before and that had been ten years ago.  I had only seen them in books.

After a nice belly-filling rest we began to walk back down the ravine.  Bill said, “Ouch!” and swallowed an expletive.  He hobbled to the nearest rock big enuf to sit on and took off a hiking boot.  A cactus spine had gone all the way thru the sole of the boot and had tried to go into his foot.  A couple of the hikers had small pliers or all-in-one tools.  Even using the tools, Bill could not pull the spine thru and out of the shoe sole.  He was able to successfully operate on the sole (as he put it) and snip off the end of the spine enuf that he walked comfortably back out to the vehicles.

AZ Trail Ja, FS 650 scenery Aa, 4march2019

More lovely scenery.

While driving back out on FR 650 Gene turned off onto FR 2378.  We drove a short distance and stopped at an old rock corral and adjacent rock fence.  Gene wasn’t sure if the structure had been built by early Spanish settlers or even earlier by native Americans, but he was sure they were a couple or more centuries old.

AZ Trail Kd, FS 2378 old stone corral Ad, 4march2019

When we were back on FR 8 Gene took some of us on yet another side trip.  Three vehicles demurred and continued over to US 60 and the parking lot where the other vehicles were waiting for the return of hikers.  Six vehicles of us drove on a more primitive dirt road to the Historic Pinal Cemetery where we took fotos of a small monument to Cecelia Blake, who was better known as Mattie Earp, Wyatt Earp’s wife.

AZ Trail Lb, Pinal Historic Cemetery Ab Mattie Earp, 4march2019

Finally, Gene drove back to Gold Canyon.  Three of the five of us in Gene’s 4Runner were car enthusiasts.  I learned about suicide doors on cars.


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