No bobcats, but . . .

The preserve’s west valley with Teddy Bear in foreground..

I hiked the Bobcat Trail yesterday.  It is a small trail in a small preserve.  It is also a long way from my home in Phoenix.  Twenty-five miles north to be somewhat precise.  It is always worth the drive, though, particularly this time of year when desert blooms come to life.

Buckhorn bloom everywhere.
Buckhorn bloom everywhere.

To get to the Bobcat from Desert Vista Trailhead on the south side, you walk along two other trails, the Hawk’s Nest and the Dixie Loop.

The Hawk’s Nest was particularly aggravating today.  It is steep and then boring too.  It has a lot of what I call stumble rocks.  They range up to 3″ in diameter.  I had sprained an ankle in mid-December and so was wary of them.  But on reaching the saddle at the end of the Hawk’s Nest, I looked out on a valley to the north that seemed to offer plenty of photo ops.

To reach the valley, you have to do an “S” around a small peak.  Even on this short arc, I found interesting stuff.

Beneath a creosote with shriveling yellow flowers and clusters of gray seedballs, I found numerous holes in the dirt.  I assume some small animals had dug them.  Their midden I assumed was directly under the creosote.  Antelope squirrels perhaps.  Later on I saw a similar structure, again under a creosote, only this time the midden was protected by a wall of sharp-thorned Teddy Bear Cholla balls.  That meant it was likely home to packrats.

Doesn't look like any of my old crates.
Doesn’t look like any of my old crates.

About a mile and a quarter from the trailhead where I had begun this hike, I came across the hull of an abandoned automobile.  It was rusted and old, a 1950s model I estimated.  Immediately, a few of my own cars came to mind.  A 1939 Plymouth, in need of a muffler, that I drove to construction sites in Kansas.  The other a 1940s Dodge sedan that I purchased with an Army buddy at Fort Lewis in Washington state.  Great strategy was required to operate the Dodge.  It needed a battery we could not afford.  Parking it on the downside of a hill was essential.

To start it, the stick shift was placed neutral, and after manually pushing it a bit, one of us would jump in the driver’s seat while the Dodge gathered steam downhill, slam the gear into 2nd and pray the engine would start.  Usually it did. Equally important was the person in the driver’s seat wait on his buddy before driving off to Tacoma.

Finally in the valley, I started bumping into, not literally of course, the flowering Buckhorn Cholla and Compass Barrel cactus.

To my surprise, I saw a Teddy Bear in bloom.  Amazing, in all my years of hiking, I had not seen or noticed a single Teddy Bear flower.  I guess I assumed they did not bloom. The blooms are a yellowish-green, almost the color of the plant itself.  Ah, my first photo of a Teddy Bear in flower.

Teddy Bear Cholla.
Teddy Bear Cholla.

The last mile of my 3-mile, one-way traverse of the preserve was the unspectacular Bobcat Trail.  Nothing exciting here to see.  Just a flat trail through mostly Creosote, Brittlebush and Palo Verde.

I did not mind the Bobcat was so ordinary.  No bobcats either.  Not even a field mouse a bobcat could eat.

But I had seen some beautiful cactus flowers along the way on the Dixie Loop Trail.  And now I was going back, hopefully to the nest of a Great Horned Owl.

Another gorgeous Sonoran Desert sunset.
Another gorgeous Sonoran Desert sunset.

The long drive out had been more than worth it.


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