Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another Trip to Saguaro East National Park

In the past two days we have taken a couple of walks in Saguaro East National Park.  Most of the following pictures were taken on the Freeman Homestead Nature Trail, but a few were from other places.

The Freeman Trail takes you from the Picnic road down to the wash near where the Freeman's built their house (no longer there).  They got their 600 plus acres of land free and much later sold it back to the government for a tidy profit.

Remnants of old survey stakes can be seen if you look carefully.

Looking carefully can also keep you from stepping on a large Harvester Ant colony.   They may not be as nasty as Fire Ants, but you probably don't want them crawling up your pants anyway.

"Knock knock."    "Who's there?"   Just the Gila Woodpecker doing his thing near the top of a Saguaro.

Not all saguaros are perfect. Some sag with age just like we do.
This one has a kind of rhythmic set of expansions and contractions that is rather unusual. Since the folds expand and contract with water from rains I wonder if this shows various years of higher than lower growth due to rainfall.  

Not sure what this little flower is, but it is doing its best to survive amonst the pebbles.

The Jojoba looks green and waxy and healthy. It's easy to see how it can become the lotion king of desert plants.  According to our ranger it is now being commercially farmed for its soothing oil.

Christmas Cholla has some nice red fruits.

Critters like to feast on barrel cactus fruit. Here you can see how they nibbled off the outside to get at the interior and the seeds

Speaking of nibbles we also spotted evidence of a fresh packrat meal on a prickly pear pad.

Not much to feed on when you get to the Ocotillo.  It generally looks like dead sticks in the ground, but even without leaves it can do its chlorophyll thing with these green bands on the stem or stalk. Lots of them are getting little leaves now just after the rains of two weeks ago.

Down in the wash near the Freeman homestead we walked into the shade and when we got right under the cliff the sun did some remarkable things with the vegetation at the top.



 We close with a look at the berries on the Desert Mistletoe

And a nod to what tourists do when they are under it on Valentine's Day


Have a happy one.



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