2 On The Road Blog

On October 9, 2004 we moved into our Hitchhiker fifth-wheel trailer and hit the road as full-time RVers. Email us at wowpegasus@hotmail.com if you would like to contact us.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

On December 30th we headed west out of Tucson on Hwy 86. We're not far out of Tucson at this point. There lots of mountains around Tucson.




Organ Pipe Cactus at Visitor Center.

In back of the visitor center there is a trail with some informational markers along it. These are Quitobaquito Pupfish. They are an endangered species and are found

in only three places: In this pool at the visitor center, at Quitobaquito Springs and in the Rio Sonoyta in Mexico.








The trail behind the visitor center.

I'm sure I had a post about "jumping cholla" a couple years ago but it's been deleted. You have to be careful about getting close to the cholla because sections can attach to you real easy. I hear they hurt like heck too.















The Visitor Center is named after this young ranger that was killed by drug runners. Unlike most rangers, those at this National Monument have to deal with smugglers of drugs and immigrants.

We decided to drive the Ajo Mountain Drive Loop

They advertise it as a 21 mile graded dirt road but we found it to be gravel. It started off wide and level but became narrow and wash-board. Sections were paved and some washes would have been terrible on a motorcycle. We were really happy we drove the car.

Map of the area.


On of the washes that would have been treacherous on a motorcycle.

The bush in front of the saguaro is a creosote bush.

Look at all the saguaro!!

One of the infrequent paved sections.

You can see the road head of us in this photo.

We saw just this one ocotillo that was leafed out. They have had some rain in this area.

Close up of the leaves. The leaves die off if the plant doesn't have enough water and then the plant looks dead but it's just waiting for rain.

Then we saw another ocotillo with flowers on it but no leaves. Interesting.

The loop goes around the Diablo Mountains.













Double click on this photo so you can see the arches.


Close up of the arches.
We hiked the Arches Trail. It doesn't go to the arches but it goes around the back of the mountain.
It was a very narrow trail that went through gullies and around cacti.
Looking back toward the parking lot. You can't see it in this photo.


There were a few balancing rocks.
Nolan took lots of photos of this rock formation. Interesting how the one rock balances on the top.
There were different kinds of rocks but these were the most interesting. They had lots of holes where it looked like air bubbles had popped.

The trail is supposedly 3/4 of a mile long but I don't know if that includes the part after this sign. It really turned into solid rock here and got real steep.

The the scenery here was beautiful!





Two hikers were headed down and Nolan took this photo of them disappearing around the corner.

It's really hard to see but there is a saguaro cactus at the top of this peak. It's right on the edge and looks like it's going to fall off at any time.















You can't see the near part of the path here because it is so steep that we had to climb using both hands and feet. I thought for a moment that I was going to have to go down on my backside!
Ok use your imagination here. The top half of the tallest column looks like a creature facing off to the right with its eyes closed . The mouth is kinda down-turned.
A lot of people like to use saguaro skeletons as decorations. I think the Chain-fruit Cholla skeletons are much prettier. This cholla is dead and the "skin" is falling off so you can see the skeleton. There are healthy chollas in the background.
After the hike we got back on the road. This is another wash crossing that would have been terrible on a motorcycle. Ok on a street bike.

This poor saguaro had quite a split in it.
Well we finished the loop and got back on the highway headed home. This felt like a super-highway after all that bumping over the rocky road.
Just north of the park is the town of Why. Very interesting name.
Well what other name would you use in a town called Why?
The mountain always look so fake when the sun is going down.

Gates Pass hike

On the 29th we drove the car out to Gates Pass to hike the trails. At first the trail climbs gradually. It's very rocky.
We get to a plateau where one trail continues on and Gates Pass Trail goes off to the left. If we followed this trail in front of us, we would have ended up where we left off on our last hike in Tucson Mountain Park.
The Saquaros and other vegetation cling to the mountain side.
At the middle left of this photo there is a Saguaro skeleton. This woody skeleton supports the heavy water-storing tissue of the cactus.
Once we got to where the trail petered out, we looked back down the valley to the parking lot. Parking lot in lower left.
Gates Pass Road can be seen from where we climbed.
Just another photo of the trail.