For my last day in Arizona, I decided to do a little hike and just go as far as my bad knee would take me. Years ago, I had hiked up Picacho Peak, and was thinking of doing it again, although I knew the upper peak was not going to happen as I remember some pretty interesting stretches of cable and iron drilled into the rock as supports. I wandered over to San Miguel to say hi to some new and old friends on the golf course before their tournament tee time, and a local recommended that I try Casa Grande Mountain Park instead as it was closer and had some nice trails. It was close, but doesn't look much like what we call mountains in Western Canada. I figured I would go check out the trails and if boring could still go to Picacho later.
|This is it, Casa Grande Mountain|
The cacti are quite large around here. I was told that this type of cactus, the tall, multi-armed ones called the Saguaro, has to be at least 50 years old before it grows an arm. Wikipedia says it can be even longer, 75-100 years. After that, it can grow as many arms as it likes, but it is as slow growing plant. They can live 150-200 years, and if there is enough rain and they are fully hydrated, they can weight close to 4800 lbs. Looking at the length of the arms of this one, it is very likely at least a centurian. It may well have stood on this hillside watching the advent of cowboys and outlaws enter the area and pass by. It will likely have seen cattle herders and rustlers, the first of cars and roads and aircraft, and it may stand to watch another 100 years of progress pass by its solitary post in the sun.
|The Centurian (or that's what I call it)|
|Cactus close up|
Shortly into the hike I saw a bird circling overhead. I don't think it was a vulture, but that was the first thought that entered my mind.
As it turned out, I quite enjoyed my hike in Casa Grande Mountain Park. The trails just kept going and going. I tried a couple of different ones trying to find one that would go to the top, but I never did find it. I heard several loud bangs which I was pretty sure was gunshot, and sure enough, there is a firing range on the other side of the mountain. So presumably the hiking trails never go on top of the ridgeline so that the two hobbies of hiking and target shooting literally never cross paths. The little paths seem to just go on forever. You see what you think is the last corner, and come around it to see it go just a little farther, and that keeps happening. The mountain is very....folded. And so the little trails on the mountain stretch out a lot further than the length of the base. It was nice to see the surrounding area laid out a bit, and see the lush green of the irrigated fields in the valley.
Here is a shot of the little trail, winding it's way through another fold in the mountain.
As the shadows started to lengthen I started to make my way back down. I stopped to take a picture of a tiny fingernail cactus, which is probably a year or two old already. I wondered what the next two centuries will bring past its viewing point in its lifespan. Good luck little fella.