Winter Journey – Cottonwood Springs & Cholla Garden – February 2017

Saturday February 4th is a beautiful blue sky day. We make a trip to the Bajada Nature Trail this morning to get cell coverage, as I need to download a document that I will be editing for a new author. I send a couple of completed chapters off to the other authors.

Desert in bloom at Bajada Nature Trail
Palo Verde on a beautiful blue sky day at Bajada Nature Trail

Back at camp, I play cello outside, first time in quite awhile. I feel a bit rusty, but am glad for a day warm and calm enough to do it.

Cottonwood Springs Cello

While Clifford works with his radios and then does some experiments with his portable biochemical analyzer, I write a few postcards and a couple of Valentine cards and do a first pass on the document.

Clifford works with his biochemical analyzer

In the later afternoon, we hike to the rock hills to the east of us. It was fun, but I should have brought my hiking sticks, as hiking up into the boulder-strewn mountain was a bit challenging in spots.

Hiking to the rocks
Clifford leads the way
Great nature colors today.

Here we are in the rocks, right near the crest.

We hike down a different way and come across what appears to be a stone fence. Wonder if that can possibly be a natural formation, but if it is man-made, how old is it?

Could it be natural?

As the sun sets, I walk about the desert, taking a few photos of this remarkable place.

Light through the needles of a pencil cholla
Late afternoon light on teddybear cholla
Last light of the day casts a golden look to the landscape

Sunday February 5th is overcast and breezy. I complete the edits for the new author and write a blog/photos about our camping at Buckeye Recreation Area, and then we head down to Bajada Nature Trail so I can email the document and post the blog. Becka calls, so I chat with her and walk the trail while Clifford takes care of his email and a call or two. On our way back to camp, we stop briefly at the Visitors’ Center for more post cards and then drive out to the Cottonwood Springs trailhead parking lot. This oasis is much more impressive than the spot we hiked to from our campsite. Massive fan palms grow here and an even taller cottonwoods are nestled in and protected by the great palms.

Looking down on Cottonwood Springs
On the trail below Cottonwood Springs
Massive fan palms protect new growth
Path to the palms – notice little Clifford at the base

We hike a ways beyond on the trail that goes to Mastodon Peak, but decide not to hike all the way to Mastodon Peak today. Instead, we go back out to Pinto Basin Road and drive north through the park until we arrive at the Cholla Garden – acres and acres of cholla growing to the exclusion of almost every other plant.

Cholla Garden – acres and acres of virtually nothing but cholla
Teddybear up close. They look fuzzy, but they pack a mean bite.

The conditions of soil and moisture and temperature are perfect for them here. It is really quite an interesting sight. It would be more dramatic at sunrise or sunset, but sometimes you have to take what you get!

We are back in time for one photo of a pastel sunset.

Pastel sunset from the campsite