May 30, 2010
A different Stronghold
Suddenly it is summer, or as we say here, it is foresummer. We have about 6 weeks of hot, dry weather, until early July when the monsoons move in bringing the majority of the year's rain. At least, let's hope so. Some years we have "nonsoons", when there are not enough rainstorms to speak of.
It being warm, we decided to hit the trail early this morning and we were out the door before 7 am. We had already done the Stronghold trail this week, so we went up Deer Saddle and explored the east side of this beautiful rock formation.
The soaptree yuccas (yucca eleta) are blooming right now and, thanks to the wet winter, lots of them are sporting a stalk. They resemble an asparagus, as opposed to the agave, which sends up a stalk and then folds out arms that the blooms are part of.
On our way up the saddle we happened to find another small hide-out, or perhaps a cave. Man-made, and it did not go far into the hillside. Once on the saddle we decided to explore a rock outcropping we had not yet climbed. Here you (Webb) can see how the agave (left in the picture) unfolds its blooming branches.
The pictures do not do this area justice: it is huge and spectacular. Moreover, because of the harsh sunlight this time of year, a lot of the pictures were overexposed, but here are some.
This is the top of a now-dry waterfall, about 100 to 150 feet above the valley floor.
On our way back, watching where we put our feet, we found this Arizona coral snake. It is poisonous, but very small and unless really agitated would have a difficult time sinking its fangs into you. As with about any snake, it was only interested in getting out of our way. Fast.