A day off the bikes - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

December 23, 2020

A day off the bikes

I keep forgetting that I’m supposed to be on a holiday break.  We’ll get back with the plan and  keep this really brief.  After eight straight days on the bike (for myself anyway; Rachael opted out of joining me on my 74 miler and hiked fourteen miles instead), we’re ready for a change.  My back is bothering me again this morning - maybe I strained it loading the bikes into or our of the car coming back from Green River yesterday - so I want something less ambitious.  We decide to split up, go our own way, and have something new to talk about when we each get back to the casita.

Rachael takes it a bit easier this time, hiking only a wimpy eleven miles (11.7!, Rachael corrects me after reading this) on a walk over to Sentinel Peak on the other side of the Santa Cruz River.  If you’re familiar with the region, you’ll recognize this as the peak with the large letter A painted on its eastern face.  She had an enjoyable hike, but with a bit of drama.  She left her rucksack on the ground where she set it while taking a break and didn’t discover this until at the summit, when she reached for her lunch and found it missing.  Fortunately it was still waiting for her on the descent.

Around Sentinel Peak.
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Looking west toward the Tucson Mountains. The nearby hill is Tumamoc Hill, which Rachael climbed on her previous hike.
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A gazebo at the summit of Sentinel Peak. Rachael planned to enjoy her lunch here, until she realized she’d left her rucksack by the trail lower down on the hill.
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This looks like a very pleasant place to enjoy lunch - sheltered, great views - if she’d only had her lunch with her. Sad!
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Looking across southern Tucson from the gazebo on Sentinel Peak.
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For myself, I hopped in the car and drove 20 miles east to the end of Speedway Boulevard and the parking lot for the Douglas Springs Trail in Saguaro National Park.  I hiked a seven mile loop that climbed the Douglas Springs Trail for a few miles and then descended along the Three Tanks Trail.  This is a beautiful hike, and one that Rachael and took together this spring.  End of story.  Here are some pics.  Back to my blog holiday.

In the eastern unit of Saguaro NP. Far in the distance are the Tucson Mountains.
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The loop begins on the Douglas Springs Trail, a steady but gradual 1,000’ climb in 2-1/2 miles.
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Ocotillo + saguaro.
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Saguaro on the rocks.
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Jaws.
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Near the high point on the loop.
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Buckthorn cholla?
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Bill ShaneyfeltProbably. Quite stressed. Very shrivelled and red/purple colored sections are often indicators.
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3 weeks ago
So other than lightning, woodpeckers and humans, what are the enemies of a saguaro? Why do some end this way?
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Bill Shaneyfelthttps://www.nps.gov/sagu/learn/nature/saguaro_threats.htm
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3 weeks ago
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Bill ShaneyfeltNice shot of a raggedy looking painted lady!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanessa_cardui
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltOh good. I’d hoped you’d know.
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3 weeks ago
Most of the descent is on the Three Tank Trail.
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The Three Tank Trail generally follows an unnamed dry creek bed, dropping at a slope similar to the ascent on the Douglas Springs Trail.
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A family of young saguaros, sheltered by a palo verde.
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Facing Mount Lemmon.
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Hedgehog cactus, I think. If these were mushrooms, this would be a troop. Does that term apply with cacti also?
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Bill ShaneyfeltClump seems to be the term.

You are correct, it is a species of hedgehog cactus. Looks appears to be one of two likely ones in the area.
https://wildflowersearch.org/search?oldstate=gms%3A9%3Bgmc%3A32.222%2C-110.706%3Blocation%3ATucson%2C+AZ+85748%2C+USA%3Belev%3A2750%3Bcat%3AX%3B&buttonName=none&hab=&Elev=&Submit=Submit+Values&PlantName=hedgehog
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3 weeks ago
Looking toward Mount Lemmon from the Three Tank Trail.
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Easy to see where the fishhook barrel cactus gets its name. The hooks are ribbed, making them look like zip ties.
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Engelmann’s prickly pear.
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Beats me what this is. Any ideas?
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Bill ShaneyfeltThistle... Doesn't look like a bull thistle, so it might be a yellow star thistle.

http://southwestdesertflora.com/WebsiteFolders/All_Species/Asteraceae/Centaurea%20solstitialis,%20Yellow%20Star-thistle.html
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3 weeks ago
An agave, of course. Utahensis?
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Bill ShaneyfeltMaybe sotol?
https://www.americansouthwest.net/arizona/saguaro/tanque-verde5_l.html
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltOh, for goodness sakes. I’ve never heard of a sotol before. But I’m sure you’re right. Looks like Dasylirion wheeleri to me. I added another photo of a close-up of the bloom.
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3 weeks ago
Of course it’s an agave, I say, but I’m wrong. It’s a sotol, a relative of agave I’d never heard of. Here’s a closer look at its bloom.
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Near the end of the hike. After the descent, it’s a flat walk back to the parking lot along the Sandy Wildhorse Trail.
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Kelly IniguezYou have fantastic cacti photos today! Thank you for the visual entertainment.

Kelly
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Kelly IniguezThanks, Kelly. I’m anxious to go back out again later in the winter before we leave here. Hopefully some of the cacti will be in bloom by then.
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3 weeks ago