There is a mountain right smack dab in the middle of this city of Phoenix, Arizona. Actually there are several. We do not have a shortage of deserts to explore here. Thought I take you along on one of my hikes/walks through one of our Arizona deserts. Not exactly like being there but close enough.
Usually when we get to our hiking spot it is pretty crowded, especially now with our spring like temps. Sometimes people can get a little cranky not finding a spot, so be careful of Phoenix drivers trying to speed up in front of you to steal a spot right from you. It is sad to think this happens, but it does occasionally. Some people are very serious about their hiking.
Once you find a spot, there are several trails to choose from. No mater what mountain you choose to hike in our city, there are different areas to hike for different levels.
It was so perfect this day. There were all kinds of little yellow flowers out for this hike.
The hike we went on was a little over a mile long. This hike came with several cacti out everywhere. Some of these cacti even had the beginning stages of tiny flower buds forming. The colors these cactus flowers produce are incredible.
At one point me being me, trying to be polite, I stepped out of the way and let some other hikers pass during a narrow part of the trail that was rocky.
I reached out to grab onto the boulder next to me and realized too late that there was a cactus there and grabbed it instead. It was a little cactus but still very painful.
As soon as the other hikers passed I turned to my husband and said “ Going to have to step off to the side for a while to pick out a few needles”. He looked down at my hand and saw a tiny bit of blood from the larger needles and asked if we needed to walk back to our truck, which at that point was close to a mile away.
“No way”, I said, remember people from Phoenix love their hikes. I am a little shocked this happened. It has been years since a cactus has bitten me. My dad started me out hiking as soon as I could walk. My husband and I did the same with our kids as well. We are like mountain goats when it comes to exploring the desert. I grew up on a desert mountain; it was my playground as a child. I could almost hear my dad saying to me now “ Watch the rocks, careful of those cactus, they jump and they bite” but yet here I was getting bitten years later. I remember that pain.
I figured this happened so I could write about it in this hike to warn you all, otherwise I would have probably never brought this up. So here is a warning, if you are ever in our part of the world (Arizona) always, always be extra careful around cliffs, rocks, loose gravel, and those crazy looking plants of ours…those scary cacti. Always wear the right shoes and always have water. Never hike during the late summer months and extreme temp days. Oh, and sunblock…never, ever, forget sunblock.
We have so many different kinds of cactus and all of them have gnarly looking needles and some cause reactions with swelling and pain after they are in you. I was fortunate that my little cactus (actually really cute) did not cause my hand to swell. Here is one that looks like the one I touched by mistake in the photo below. See? Isn’t it cute?
I used my nails to scrape (not pull) the needles away from my skin. I only had about 11 needles to remove. The larger needles are easy to get out but careful they don’t break inside your skin. Then I poured water all over my hand to help with itching…do not scratch. We left our first aid kit back in the truck, so I couldn’t use tweezers, so nails and water it was. Then we continued on with our hike. If you ever find yourself with a handful of tiny invisible cactus needles and you can’t remove them, you can use Elmer’s glue to help with that. Just let the glue dry and pull away once dry. Clean with soap and bandage up afterwards.
What I did was a huge No No in the hiking world. Never put your hand on rocks without looking first. Even peripheral vision is not enough. This was the most important thing I was taught as a child by my dad when we went hiking everywhere. Never sit down, touch, or step without looking the spot over really well first. I was very lucky that it was a tiny cactus my hand found and not a rattlesnake, scorpion or tarantula. The desert is filled with poisonous things. I know this, so me having to pick out needles not only shocked my husband when it happened but me as well. You know what they say, everything happens for a reason. I guess this reason was to tell all you future visitors to please be careful. I hope anyone reading this follows these rules because these rules should never be broken.
Okay back to our hike, which was very pretty and the perfect day. We live so close to this mountain that my family tries to hike every week.
There was a hummingbird that I ran into a couple days before on an earlier hike. I even turned to my husband and said the little bird seemed like it was following us. Which isn’t the case, but when I turned around and saw it sitting up in a tree I walked over and took a photo as close as I could and that little bird never flew away. “There is always a lot of life around on these hikes” I said turning to my husband. “Only around you” he said back. I liked this little visitor and took many photos of this tiny bird up in the tree, but it was up on a ledge so I couldn’t get a great shot of just how cute it was.
Then a couple days later we went on this hike and a hummingbird was buzzing around my head again and this time it was even closer to me. I told my husband “ I think this bird wants to be photographed” so I started shooting a bunch of photos of this little show off.
After showing off right next to my head while I photographed it, eventually it flew away to find some more flowers. I love watching nature in action. Can you imagine having as much energy as a hummingbird? I know my house would be super clean. Imagine all the “projects” I could finish.
The secret to wildlife getting close to you out in nature is to be very gentle with your steps and extra quiet. Being completely still helps also, which I am sure I don’t have to tell a lot of you nature lovers. Because I grew up living on a desert mountain I would spend hours as a child high up on rock cliffs overlooking the city. I remember many times laying on a beautiful flat rock, high up above watching the clouds and tiny moving city below. Since I was extra still, little bitty chipmunks would walk right up to the side of me, stand on their hind legs and take a peek at who was invading their space.
I wish I had the camera I have now when I was a child. Oh, the shots I could have taken back then would have been amazing. Little chipmunks and squirrels surrounded by petroglyphs. There were hundreds of petroglyphs everywhere on the mountain I grew up on. I still wonder to this day what the hohokam were trying to tell us all with those simple little drawings of theirs.
The are no petroglyphs on the hike we took today, at least not close to the trail. In order to protect these ancient works of art a lot of our desert trails to not lead to them, they are usually hidden in other areas. Walking a little further up this trail we found a perfect spot for a picnic, but it was not for anyone afraid of heights. Beyond those shiny flat rocks and two cacti is a drop off. So anyone walking with little ones please hold their hands.
Finally made it to the top.
The view was amazing.
Walking back to our truck was also really pretty. We had to walk through that cacti forest again. This time I was extra careful.
Hope you all get a chance to hike an Arizona desert sometime and please watch where you put your hands. Happy hiking everyone.
My next couple of posts will be repostings from earlier in the year. I will be off blogging for a while for Spring break and catching up on some things. Sometimes when my family and I take Arizona road trips we are off line for a while because we are in the middle of nowhere. Thanks for visiting.