It was raining today as I drove out to the Friday Fitness Hike at McDowell Mountain Park. It was still raining when I got there. Linda had already arrived. We rolled down our windows, said hello to each other and wondered whether anyone else would show up. We didn’t have long to wait as Amy, Janet, and Bob all showed up within the next few minutes. The rain wasn’t bad, just a light drizzle.
We hiked the Wagner Trail out to Granite, where we turned right. Along the way, on Granite, I learned that the new trail which leads up to Granite Tank has been given a name; it’s now the “Delsie Trail.” Apparently Delsie was one of the matrons of the old P-Bar Ranch. Much, if not all of McDowell Mountain Park, and much of Fountain Hills too, was once part of the B-Bar Ranch.
According to the River of Time Museum, the B-Bar ranch was operated by Henry Pemberton in the early 1900s. Operation then passed to the Coles and then to Delsie’s husband Lee Barkdoll in 1935. Lee died in a train accident a short while later. Ranger Amy tells me that Delsie operated the ranch after Lee’s death, marrying Lee’s friend Dick Robbins in 1939. She had a busy life, driving kids on the ranch and the nearby reservation into a school in Scottsdale. She’d drop the kids off and then go to her job working at a cafeteria in Scottsdale. Later in the day, she’d drive the kids home, and do whatever needed to be done for the ranch. Delsie and Robbins ran the ranch until 1955.
We hiked the Delsie Trail today, taking it all the way to Granite Tank. Along the way, Amy stopped to show us a plant known as The Queen of the Night. It doesn’t look like much in the photos below, but Amy assures us that it has a very spectacular flower which only opens after dark. In the photo below, Amy is telling us about this Night-blooming Cereus.
Here is a better view of this otherwise unremarkable plant with Four Peaks off to the left.
A bit further up the Delsie Trail, Amy turned around so that she could open the Nature Center on time. It was still drizzling, but we stopped to take pictures before she turned back.
As we hiked further up the Delsie Trail, we noticed that some of the barrel cacti had bright red needles, perhaps due to the rain.
The Delsie Trail connects to the Pemberton Trail at Granite Tank. We turned left and hiked a short way to where we could see this crested saguaro:
The rain brought out a lot of color that we don’t normally see when it’s dry – which is most of the time. This photo is from a little ways further along the Pemberton.
A short while later, we came upon this “quadruple” saguaro. It’s one plant that appears to have split into four very long arms when the plant was quite young.
Bob noticed the sun starting to make its presence known and suggested that I get a photo. Bob is good at spotting these shots.
We saw this dead tree just as we came upon Stoneman Wash. We decided to hike Stoneman Wash today. If you’re going to hike this upper section of wash, the best time to do it is just after a rain because it firms up the sand. It’s still a wash, but it’s not quite as loose as normal. It can still be quite bad, however, if equestrians have been out with their horses. Janet and Linda suggested this photo.
We came across this unusual Palo Verde tree as we were hiking Stoneman Wash. I thought it odd that the tree had a dead looking spot above which were living branches.
Ranger Amy, who in turn double checked with Ranger Kevin Smith at Spur Cross, tells me that the colorful plant in front of the Palo Verde is a Turpentine Bush. We saw many of them on the hike. The rain seems to have brought out the color in them. Amy tells me that they have yellow flowers when they bloom.
Here is my attempt at photographing water droplets on a Palo Verde branch.
Linda had the idea for this shot. She took the photo too. I think it turned out very well.
Bob and I walked right past this snake, a Western Diamondback, and had trouble seeing it even when Linda and Janet were pointing right at it. I had a hard time photographing it too as I took one shot where I missed the snake completely! This shot, however, came out fairly well. Notice though how well the snake blends in with the gravel of the wash.
Here’s a 1:1 crop showing more detail:
We ended up hiking Stoneman Wash all the way to the Bluff Trail. Once we got to Bluff, we turned left and headed back on the Wagner Trail.
Large black ants were out in force today. I guess they like the moisture too. Bob had been bitten by some black ants earlier in the hike.
I got this photo just after taking a few shots of the ants. I really like the clouds in this shot.
We hiked a little over nine and half miles today in only a little over three hours.