Haven't posted in a while, and I wanted to post a few pictures that I took while camping in a spot Don and I have nick-named the Cactus Garden in the arid yet beautiful Sonoran Desert in Arizona. I have never seen an area so abundant in different species of Cacti and succulents - Prickly Pairs, Hedgehogs, Cholla, Barrel, and even tiny Pincushion cactus thrive in the washes and foothills near the base of the Pinal Mountains. Several ponds in the area attract wildlife such as mule dear, antelope, javalina, and coyotes. During our stay we spotted both deer and antelope near the base of Signal Peak.
You really do need to have a 4X4 to get back to the place where we camp as the road is really rough and filled with huge pot holes and deep ruts. I honestly didn't think the Blue Goose was going to make it, but Don got out of his Sidewinder (Chevy) to guide me through some really rough areas.
The Cactus Garden in all its glory!
Nice little grouping of Hedgehogs!
Not a whole lot of shade can be found in this arid ecosystem, and when it is, areas that provide some relief from the sun are usually occupied by some prickly plant!
I love this pic because it shows the variety of cacti found in the garden.
Not positive, but I think the following abnormality is due to "fasciation", which can be caused by a genetic mutation which causes abnormal cell growth in plants. Have seen it once with cucumber plants in my garden, but never in cacti. So unusual!
Pincushion cacti - These little golf ball size cacti are without a doubt one of my favorites!
Awesome specimen of the Barrel cactus, also known as the "Compass Cactus" because they tend to lean to the South.
Have been told that Native Americans used the hard red spines of the Barrel cactus as needles and in the application of tribal tattoos! So Cool!
During one of my hikes in the area I came across what looked like a little cactus wren nest in a cholla. As I got closer, I could hear little peeps from inside the nest. Mama bird was no where in sight, so I found a large rock to sit on quite a distance from the nest to watch for her return. After about 20 minutes, mama bird arrived home with some sort of large insect in her mouth. So exciting to watch!
No where have I seen such a drastic change of ecosystems with the lush evergreen forests of the Pinal Mountains within just a short 5 minute hike from the desert.
Where the mountains meet the desert! More to come!