December 12, 2018 (Day 2)
Hiking the Palm Canyon Trail
After a leisurely and hearty camp brunch, Paul, Sheila, and I took all three dogs and hiked up the canyon trail. Since our campsite is relatively near the trailhead, we walked. Sheila’s dogs are seniors. Kenzie, the Westie, is 12 and Bunnah, the Scottie, is 10, but they did the rugged steep trail with us like champs. On the way down, we took a little break and Bunnah took a wee nap.
Here we are still climbing, but we looked back to see if we could find our camp. Can you spot the Airstream?
Little did we know that our timing was impeccable. It’s great that none of us wanted to leave first thing in the morning. We arrived just as the sun was illuminating the palms.
You have to look up to see the palms:
These are California Fan Palms, and they are the only native palm trees in Arizona. There are several theories on how they got into these canyons and other niches. It’s likely the seeds were spread by birds or coyotes thousands of years ago. They continue to survive due to the micro-climate in the protected canyon. The decaying fronds fall to the ground, decompose, and create a new growing medium for new trees. They are self-sustaining. There are other trees in other niches, but these are the most dramatic.
The girls at the end of the trail
Here is our view from the top. Can you still spot the Airstream?
On our way down, we saw a couple of lizards, but no other wildlife.
After an exhilarating day, we were treated to another spectacular sunset.
December 13, 2018 (Day 3)
Searching for Desert Tortoises
Yesterday, we met a fellow Canadian on the trail and he said he saw tortoises. The three of us humans left camp without the dogs, because this time we were hiking across the desert, through washes, and scrambling around cholla. It’s a good thing we left the dogs at home because the ground was covered with an assortment of sharp thorns. Sheila came near, but didn’t touch a teddy bear cholla, but one grabbed on to her bare leg. There is a reason why they are nicknamed “jumping cholla.” Ouch!
We searched hard for tortoises, but we didn’t find any. We will try again tomorrow.
And more desert beauty as the sun goes down
Where is the tortoise? 🐢
We looked and looked. They must be hiding out this time of year. The nights are pretty cold.