Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kactus to Koi

I've fallen behind in my postings. Time has been spent getting ready for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument's 75th birthday which was celebrated on April 14. At the same time we were getting ready to leave ORPI, which we did on the 17th. We are now in Phoenix and having visited with sister Susan and completed our shopping, we will be heading to Sedona tomorrow for six nights and then it's on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for our summer work.
Before leaving Organ Pipe, I hiked Mount Ajo one more time with Sardius, Jim and Steve a visitor.
 The view from the top is spectacular.
The climb up is tough, but not nearly as hard as going down over the scree. Fortunately, we only had a couple of minor slips and falls.
Many cacti were blooming. The saguaro are just starting while the hedgehog are in full glory.

A great hike to finish out the season. The lizards are also out in full force. We spotted this desert iguana under a creosote bush right next to the 5er.

Although the high season is winding down at Organ Pipe it was tough to leave. This part of the Sonoran Desert is beautiful and over the past five months we learned a lot about the flora and fauna, and the people. We also made many friends who we already miss. The volunteer community is like no other and after working this summer we will look forward to volunteering at Santa Ana NWR next winter.
While in Phoenix we visited the Japanese Gardens with Susan. Tonight it is out for dinner.
Susan and Sherri sharing a bench at the gardens.

The visitor center sells cheerios to feed the Koi. I will leave this post with a photo of the Koi in a feeding frenzy, with one duck trying to outmaneuver the Koi.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pinkley Peak

The last week has been about hiking. Monday Brian, Sardius and I hiked the Bull Pasture/Estes Canyon Trail. Sardius is a seasonal ranger and he is writing a trail guide book. Here are Sardius and I at an overlook with Mexico in the background.
Most of the wildflowers are past their prime and the heat is making them wither, but the cactus are just starting to bloom. A pretty hedgehog.
We completed the 4 mile loop and I wanted to continue on, so we ventured off the trail and down a large wash. The wash has a quick vertical drop and we reached a point where we could not continue down.
Instead of going back up the wash we went up the very steep side, shorter and a little hairy.
The hike was good, but it was just a warmup for Thursday's adventure. Pinkley Peak is named for the monument's first Superintendent, Frank Pinkley. This peak is climbed by no more than 10 people a year. There is no trail and it is all find your own way. The peak is about 3,200' and we started at 1,700'. The route we took was up through the wash on the left and up the back side.
Looking back down the wash and scrambling up the scree is Jim.

 We made it to the top and enjoyed the fabulous views.

Going down was tricky, it was sliding down on loose rock much of the way. But we did it and we felt good for our accomplishment. Maybe Sardius will include this hike in the trail guide.
On Saturday a Gila Monster was reported to be snooping around the administration building. It is rare to see one of these famous and poisonous lizards, so we all converged with cameras in hand. I'll leave you with two photos of the mad fellow.