A Springtime Hike

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

IMG_4766

Brittlebush (yellow) and Scorpion Weed (blue) spread out on a mountainside.

Yesterday, Monday, was a very pleasant day here in Phoenix. That prompted me to get out to enjoy the weather and to see the Spring wildflowers in the Phoenix Mountain Preserves which are on either side of where I live. My usual hike would take me to the West and up North Mountain or to Shaw Butte, about a 5 or 7 mile roundtrip. But this time I opted to go to the East toward Dreamy Draw Park about 4 miles one way.

Flowers were not everywhere, at first, but seemed to occur in patches, first to present themselves to me were large expanses of the blue Scorpion Weed, one lonely patch of the lovely Mexican Gold Poppies and scattered blooming of yellow Brittle bush. 

IMG_4758

My hike was more of a stroll as I strode along photographing and taking in all this beauty around me. As I got closer to Dreamy Draw, I could see in the distant mountains there, that swatches of yellow draped up the mountain sides. That told me the Mexican Gold Poppies were in full bloom and would reward me with some spectacular scenery.  

IMG_4760            

I should note that not every Spring here in the desert rewards us with abundant blooming wildflowers. But, luckily, this winter and early Spring brought sufficient rain to produce a splendid and prolific preponderance of poppies and other blooms. 

There is a tunnel under the AZ 51 highway that connects from one side of the mountain preserve into Dreamy Draw. Upon entering Dreamy Draw it is like entering a new landscape. Once up the paths through the parking lot and picnic ramadas, one finds himself in a valley with many trails and, oh so many of the Mexican Gold Poppies stretching upward on the mountainsides. Additionally, our Arizona Lupines, the Scorpion Weed, Desert Hyacinth, Filaree and other less obvious flowers interspersed themselves in the predominant yellow/gold Mexican Gold Poppies. 

It has been several years since I last came over to the Dreamy Draw park and this was a perfect mid-week day to visit with far fewer people on the trails. There is a favorite spot I like to hike to in this park which takes me around the mountains to the backside of Squaw Peak (another very popular mountain hike that is usually overrun with trekkers up and down that trail). There is a back trail to the main Squaw Peak trail but I most often stop at a view point shot of that trail and gaze down into another valley behind these mountains. There I also saw some Desert Globemallow blooming in addition to the other blossoms.

Soon enough, the plush landscape I enjoyed on this hike will dry up with our intense summer heat. Taking the time to venture out and enjoy this kind of beauty is important to me and rewards me in ways that touch my soul.

It was after 2 p.m. when I ended my reverie in that peaceful place and started back toward home. Of course, I still took many photographs, but knew I had at least 4 miles or more to hike back. Two hours later, just after 4 p.m., I arrived home. Feeling the effects of my 5 hours hike, it felt good to get off my feet. Though my feet were sore and left knee a bit achy, I was glad to have begun conditioning myself for more hikes and for the coming summer when I will go exploring somewhere out here in the great American Southwest.