Sunday, January 24, 2016

Organ Pipe Cactus 1/17-24/2016

On the road again Sunday Jan. 17 to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
What a spectacular place.  The landscape is amazing to a Midwestern gal.
We arrived at the Visitors Center in time to hear a Ranger talk about the Arizona sun.  Very interesting about the latitude of the earth and the intense sun rays in this Sonoran desert.  It was a treat to look through the telescope at the sun.
The early visitors named them organ pipe cactus because they looked like organ pipes.
Setting sun at our campsite with our own saguaro cactus.

Interesting fact at Organ Pipe National Monument Campground.  Campers leave the hood of their vehicle up.  Packrats are attracted to the soy in the wiring of the engines and will eat away the lining destroying the wiring.  We left our engine hood up.

On the road again Monday Jan. 18 for the 28 mile Ajo Mountain Drive Ranger led tour.  The Park van picked us up at the campground at 8:45.  A great benefit of this Park is the van picking us campers at the campground to go on hikes or Ranger led tours.
This organ pipe cactus has a Cristate.
A Cristate is an abnormality in the cactus.  

The skeleton of a dead organ pipe cactus.

 The packrats have made their nest underneath this cactus.  They moved these cholla cactus near the base of this cactus to deter predators.  
 Ramada made using saguaros to give shade in this full sun desert.
The cholla cactus look so inviting to touch but no.  Each spike is really thousands of needles.  People are encouraged to carry a comb to aid in brushing it off if they get attached to skin or clothing.  

 In the afternoon we hiked to the Visitor Center (2 1/2 miles) for the Ranger Patio Talk on Desert Adaptations.  These are the only flowers I saw blooming in the park.  Saguaro cactus can grow 50 feet tall, weigh several tons and live 200 years.
This is a skeleton of a saguaro cactus.  
Cross cut of organ pipe cactus (left) and saguaro cactus (right).
 At the campground the remnants of a saguaro cactus.  The ribs are like wood.

On the road again Tuesday Jan. 19 to the Gachado Wells Line Camp.  The Ranger picked a  group of us up at the campground at 1 pm.
 Ranching was done in this area into the 1970's.
 Memorial for a Park Ranger who was killed on duty chasing Mexican drug smugglers.
 Standing by the fence separating us from Mexico
 The fence is 33 miles along.  We felt safe at the Park.

On the road again Wednesday Jan. 20 to Quitobaquito Springs. for a Ranger led hike and talk.
An oasis in the desert.
   Huge cottonwood tree.There's a legend about keeping the tree alive So the Park has put rubber diaper on it. Can you see it?
Endangered Pupfish.

Yesterday we saw the 33 mile long 15 foot high metal fence along the U. S. - Mexican border.  This fence after the 33 mile is made of railroad rails.  It can stop cars from crossing but not walkers.

On the road again Thursday Jan. 21 by van to the Senita Basin.
We didn't see any Senita cactus on our hike but saw some yesterday on our trip to the oasis.  This is one as the Visitors Center.
 Saguaro cactus may grow 90 years before it grows an arm.  Arms naturally grow upward but when the weather is too cold the arms droop.  Eventually the arms want to return to growing upward.

Cactus wren often build a nest in the cholla.  

Mexican burning trash across the border.Ruins of the old store at the Victoria Mine.

The Senita Basin hike is 4.6 but we did the extra .5 mile to the Victoria Mine area.  Total hike 5.4 miles.  Lots of chollas, saguaros, ocotillos, ceresote bushes and so  much more.  It was great.  Ready for a shower.  They are solar showers.  Don't get very warm at this time of the year.  But refreshing!

A gila woodpecker working on making another hole for another nest.

On the road again Friday Jan. 22  picked up by van for Folklore Ranger led hike in Alamo Canyon. 

To me the rock formation above looks like a sphinx.
Gate from the time of ranching.
The Sonoran Desert is unlike the other deserts in the U. S.  It has 5 seasons:spring, summer monsoon, fall, winter rain and winter.  The Sonoran Desert is called the green desert because it receives two seasons of rain unlike the other seders that only have the harsh summer monsoon.  
It is never tiring to hike and seen the amazing landscape.
I though that rock formation looked like St. Peter.
In this area the organ pipe cactus are thick!
And tall and with interesting arms.
The desert is HARSH. The Park knows that hikers or Mexicans can get lost or run out of water or need assistance for some reason.  These Assist Stations have been erected around the Park.  Help would arrive in 20 minutes.

Saturday morning Jan. 23 I tried to get up early to take photos in the early light.

Just love these teddy bear cholla.

 Prickly pear

We visited with several campers and got tours of their rigs.  One an A-frame pop up and the other a Casita like trailer.  We went to the Visitor Center and handed in our "Not so Young Ranger" books and earned out "Not so Young Ranger" Badges.  This has been a fantastic stay.
We and 40 other joined two Rangers of a full moon hike up a hill.  What a great experience.  The Ranger starting the hike said he'd say"step up" or "down" when he did so.  Each of us was to do the same.  It got to be hilarious, step up, step up, step up, step over, step down, etc.  Actually the full moon gave us plenty of light to see.

Sue and Ron joined us around our campfire for socializing and a nightcap.

On the road again Sunday Jan. 24
 The Camp host told us of a morning when the sky was pink all over.  Well.  We finally had an astounding sunrise.

I couldn't get my camera fast enough.  But if you look real close.  
You can see the moon going down on the slope of the hill.
On the highway out of the park we watched for another Cristate saguaro.
 Interesting, right!

We attended Mass at Immaculate Conception in Ajo, AZ.

We stayed overnight at Flying J, Ehrenburg, AZ