My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Changing the Virtual to Real at Catalina State Park

I finished a long day of travel - with a break for some play - at Catalina State Park near Tuscon, AZ.  I was really looking forward to the next morning when I would meet Carol DeAngeli, a fellow blogger who I consider my virtual friend since we keep finding more and more things in common.  There was still a little light when I got to the park, and as soon as the ranger confirmed I was OK to get to my site, I started taking pictures.  I stopped at the trail to Romero Ruin and climbed toward the sunlit slopes.

Just  past the start of the trail I saw this magnificent old mesquite  tree. It was almost laying down but was still looking very healthy.A little bit of sun was lighting up the trunk in a mostly shady area.

In a couple of minutes I was climbing high enough to see the lovely light on the mountains.

It was even more beautiful in a more close up view.

But most exciting was seeing the saguaro cacti which only grow in the Sonoran Desert  I took more and more pictures of them because I kept finding bigger and better ones with more arms. These guys are very old.  It takes them 60 to 100 years to get arms and then they live 125 years or more.

This gila woodpecker, which is almost a silhouette, in the rapidly fading light, is the characteristic bird of saguaro forests.  It and the gilded flicker are responsible for the holes in the cacti.

This is the  biggest and most beautiful cactus I found this evening.

I also came across a couple of barrel cactus. Here is one of them.

The last of the light was setting off this beautiful grass. Carol will have to comment on what it is.

All too soon the sun was setting behind the horizon and I had to hurry to get off the trail before dark.  I did have to set up my tent in the dark but I usually end up doing that anyway.

The next morning I got up at 5:00A. M,. ate a breakfast bar, packed up and took a shower.  Then it was time to meet Carol.  I found here already waiting for me. I grabbed my stuff and, after greeting her with a hug, joined her in her car to go back to the trailhead. We had a beautiful walk with a few bird sightings but with lots of stops for interesting things. Carol knows EVERYTHING about the area and shows a deep passion for all of nature. We took pictures of wren nests, the boots - the scar tissue the saguaro builds around the holes the birds make, butterfly a wildflower and grass pictures and, of course,  more pictures of the saguaros.

I finally had to tear myself away and take Carol to a delicious brunch in a nearby restaurant before reluctantly leaving to continue my trip.  By this time it was almost noon.

I probably took 2-300 pictures.  I got ready to process them and found that I had discarded all of them before I downloaded them. So you will have to take a quick hop over to Carol's blog about our time together to see the rest.  I now count Carol as a real friend and hope she will spend some of her travels coming my way.

I spent the rest of travel time driving and looking for my campsite so I didn't have any more fun adventures. I arrived here about 9:00 A. M. on Thursday, after spending the night in a park near Folsom, CA. I spent the day unloading my car and moving into my room. Then I was involved in training the rest of the weekend. Now, I'm learning the area, figuring out the birds and when they make the best pictures, and trying to get all my stuff stowed away.