My youngest daughter had a day off work on December 30, and she invited me to come over and hang with her.
Katie lives almost an hour away, so I don’t often drive out there.
But she asked me so nicely. My heart swelled with joy. So, I said, “I’d love to.”
She’d been to our house Christmas morning, before going to work for the day. It was then she suggested we do something together. She proposed three different outings, and none of them appealed to me. So I suggested a hike, and she jumped on it.
The San Tan Mountain Regional Park, just a short drive from Katie’s house, contains 10,000 acres of desert, with beautifully maintained trails. We walked a loop that consisted of part of the Moonlight trail, the Stargazer trail, and part of the San Tan Trail, covering 2.5 miles of relatively easy walking.
Although Katie didn’t complain, I must have driven her crazy, because I stopped every few steps to take pictures. Honestly, the view changed constantly. And if you turned a few degrees, everything looked different again. I took 160 shots. I’m only going to share a few.
When we first moved to Arizona 28 years ago, I was expecting the desert to look like the Sahara–lots of sand, completely brown. The Arizona Sonoran Desert is full of life. It’s rocky, although sandy in some places. Mostly, it’s dirt. And the mountains are rocky.
If you go to northern Arizona, it snows up in the mountains. There are actual ski resorts up there. Those mountains are covered in pine trees rather than cactus.
A barrier of some kind.
I think this is a variety of cholla.
My pretty Katie, sitting on an interesting log.
You can see how rocky the soil is.
Housing developments in the distance, and more mountains in the background.
You can’t blame Katie for getting ahead of me. Besides, I got some action shots of her on the trail.
The trail had some gentle ups and downs, but nothing steep, at least not where we were.
A lot of people rode mountain bikes on these trails, too. Or walked their dogs. Everyone was so nice, too. They greeted us as we passed one another.
Someone stacked some rocks.
The rocks don’t deter plants from growing.
Do you see what I mean about how beautiful and how diverse it is out here? I want to try to paint some of these scenes.
Who left these tracks?
Oh. That’s who.
A tree growing right out of the rock.
The sky was so blue. The temperature was 69 degrees. It doesn’t get better than this.
I love the shadows on the mountains.
Okay, I’m done. But there’s so much more to explore. We’re planning to go back.
Photos © by ARHuelsenbeck and Katie Huelsenbeck.