|On the lookout for Gila monsters in Saguaro National Park.|
|Teddy-bear cholla cactus.|
The killer bees also have an interesting modus operandi, if aggravated. The sign at the Red Hills Visitor Center warned that if the bees elect to swarm you, the best strategy is to cover your face...and run away from them. The information assured us that after half a mile or so (about a kilometre in our "metric" part of the world), they would tire of the chase and go home. Sure, trail running is usually fun - but here? Moving quickly any distance on these rocky and often steep and precipitous trails, and in the heat of the day, I don't think so. The rattlesnakes? Surely they would give some warning? The cacti? Simply awesome.
|Prickly pear cactus.|
|Golden barrel cactus.|
|Never-ending need keep hydrated in the desert - both humans and cacti!|
|Desert flowers - symbolic of "where there's life, there's hope".|
but no Gila monsters...
|The trail felt as if it would go on forever...it did.|
|Ouch - natural defence capabilities of cactus!|
An encounter with any of these desert inhabitants might have made a cool story - but we're OK with the way it went.
|Saguaro cactus: From a seed the size of a pinhead|
to a giant, 50 feet tall and up to 8 tons - in 200 years!
|A "skeleton" (the woody ribs under the spongy flesh) of a Saguaro cactus.|
|Sometimes you just have to pause, lay down your heavy pack, |
breathe deeply and slowly...and take in the wonders of the natural world.
When we had gone as far as we felt we could safely go, before losing the sun and inviting the freezing night-time temperatures that would surely provide us with a "freeze / dry" experience, we briefly caught our breath...and retraced our steps.
Such a self-propelled, outdoor experience is deeply enriching...much like time on the ocean in a narrow kayak.
So, is desert hiking antithetical to sea kayaking? No, not really. I think, in a rather strange way, they are very close "cousins". :)
Next: A quick overnight sortie into the high, cold, icy, and snowy country of Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon.