Monday, January 19, 2015

The Garwood Dam Hike

On Thursday January 15, the Hiking Club with twelve of us headed out to the Garwood Dam in the Saguaro National Park,

meeting at the Speedway parking lot.

Jim Garrigues was our guide for this hike. Also a resident in our Rancho Del Lago community, he volunteers at the Saguaro National Park.

We started off on the Douglas Spring Trail for a short bit...

and then turned south on the Garwood Trail. The park has excellent trail signage, so with the hiking maps from the Park Visitor Center in hand we were on our way. But I can easily get lost and not know it for hours.

When I took this shot I knew Shirley was elaborating to Anita on how she found a huge double crested saguaro a couple of weeks ago... and gave it a big hug! There is always a lot of visiting that happens as we hike.

Shirley accidentally discovered this beauty just a little way off the North Cactus Forest Trail, just before the lime pit. It is the shortest of all the crested ones we have seen... and she could not contain her excitement! I told her to give her new friend a hug!

She has now become an avid "Crested Saguaro" hunter. This is the only one we have ever seen with two heads... and such a beautiful hairdo!  It is also the only one where the crested part was not the highest part of the cactus... this one had a branch that rose above the main event. Interesting, eh?

What an absolutely gorgeous day to hike in this beautiful park. Chuck is leading the pack.

We are so fortunate to have this beautiful park right in our backyard... only a short drive to unlimited hiking.

What makes a crooked arm like this?  Is this a "twisted sister"? Some families have one like this, right? ... and who can explain why it happens?

Just think, while we are enjoying the sunshine and hiking in the park there are people shovelling snow in the north-east.

What could be better than this? I could think of a few things... but this is still right up near the top of the list.

Some of us stopped to take photos of this four-trunker. Can you imagine when this guy gets some arms? I can see a little guy starting up near the very top!

The printed hiking guide tells us in 2010 this was a cluster of 13... but try as we may we could only find 12 in this group.  One must have either gotten away or died. But it still is a very beautiful group.

This prickly pear was in the shade... and the sun had not yet had a chance to have it's way with the dew.

It is always exciting to see another crested saguaro... and another photo opportunity.

This girl has such beautiful curls! What an intricate design. It wasn't until I sketched a crested saguaro to make a water-colour painting that I realized how many folds and little blossoms there are in a crested head.

This painting is of the first crested saguaro I ever saw, and it was my last painting in 2014, just after Christmas.

As we climbed higher we soon could see the Garwood Dam ahead.

This dam was built around 1930... and is 40 feet high.  I don't know when they quit using it... or why?

The gate is always open and only a trickle comes thru. With the morning sun the water looks like gold. If only it was that easy to find real gold!

It was a fun place to stop... and look.

And to take a few pictures.

I took this one looking back on the dam as we hiked further up the trail heading to the pools.

When the group stopped for another break, Shirley couldn't resist helping me with a smile and a pose!

The needles with sun behind make the cactus glow!

Notice how the sunshine brings out the red and yellow in this fish hook cactus. The same needles in the shade are not nearly as exciting.

Does this cholla look inviting to you for a nest?

Some bird thought so... do you know what bird may have built this nest?

As we continued hiking up the canyon we saw other hikers in the distance coming back from the pools. There's two guys on the rock just left of the sun spot. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

I offered to take Olivia's picture if she would jump into this pool... but not today. This was as close as she got to getting wet. I think it would have taken more money than I had for her to take the plunge!

More pools along the creek.

At last we came upon the largest and deepest pool... and stopped here for a break and a snack.

It was part of a chain of smaller pools.

I crossed over to get this shot up the canyon and the waterfall... but the waterfall was in shadow. The sound of water falling was better than this photo. It was a beautiful spot to stop for a break... and listen to the waterfall. However, Niagara Falls it isn't.

I almost got too close to this prickly pear getting that shot... and liked the play of the sunshine bouncing off the paddles.

We passed by this huge old saguaro... it is a granddaddy of the saguaros.  Jim told us that last year the largest saguaro in the park came down. So nominations for a new "Largest Saguaro" are been taken. Jim said this one is in the running... but we could not get anyone to go stand beside it to help us with the scale of this tree.

Here is another pretty good size granddaddy.

At the end of the trail we came on this secluded pool with another little waterfall. What a perfect place for a picnic. It even had a sandy beach.

Tucked into the rock on the left side is this lonely little cactus. How it ever got started growing out of this rock is a mystery to me... but what a cutie. Jim said it may be 30-50 years old. Who knows for sure?

As we headed back I recognized some of the cairns we passed on the way up... it told me we were still on the trail.

At one time these posts blocked access to the pools above. A sign said "No Access For Stock."

Since we were hurrying to get back for a 1:00 PM CPR class, there were very few stops to take photos on our decent.

But we could not resist taking a few shots of these three horses... (two mules and one horse). You can tell the difference by the face and longer ears.

We agreed with these riders that this was a prefect day to enjoy the great outdoors!

I've heard it said,

"Time spent hiking does not take anything off your lifespan."

In fact I would argue it probably adds to your lifespan.

Happy trails!

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