This year, the desert is awash with green. A layer of green grass is visible in the normally brown desert floor. The Phoenix metro has seen a lot of rain this winter. I am hoping I won’t be back in Fargo before what is sure to be a banner wildflower season. Recently our hiking club visited Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area. Formerly the home of a dude ranch, the area is now a reserve where Cave Creek winds its way in a southerly path. One of the prominent peaks in Cave Creek is Elephant Mountain, as anyone with even a bit of imagination can probably note in the image above.
Spur Cross Trail was our trail for the day, and it was a Ranger-led hike. The trail crosses the creek a couple of times, and the plank bridges hadn’t yet been set out. The ranger and a few others, myself included, stepped across the rocks and found the plank bridges in their makeshift storage area slightly off the trail and hidden. We carried them out and put them down so the rest of the hikers wouldn’t have to rock hop across the stream. I heard from the Spur Cross Ranch Facebook page that recent rain storm ended up washing these planks down the creek. I don’t know if they were ever found.
The creek has water in it all year, though in the hot summer months, it flows underground. A couple of years ago, we visited Spur Cross Ranch, documented here, and we enjoyed an even fuller Cave Creek than it was on this visit. I brought along my best camera, the Nikon D500 in the hopes that I might spot some wildlife. I haven’t had much of a chance to capture some 3-image high dynamic range photos (HDR), and I thought this would be a good chance to do so. The ranger-led part of the tour was a bonus as we learned a lot about the history of the park and even were treated to an off-trail detour to visit one of the petroglyph rocks.
One of our sharp-eyed hikers spotted a Harris Hawk sitting on the top of a saguaro cactus at some distance from us. I aimed my zoom lens in his direction and snapped the first photo. Only a moment later, the hawk decided to take flight. As it turned out, the still shot of the hawk was not in focus when the shutter snapped. Fortunately, as the hawk lifted off, the auto-focus on the camera locked on to the hawk and I captured the image above.
In the shade of a giant saguaro, a rock jutted out from the terrain. The top of the rock had a V-shaped groove worn in it. The ranger told us that this rock had been used to grind food for the ancient ones, the Hohokam, who lived in the Phoenix valley for several centuries before mysteriously disappearing sometime around the 15th or 16th century. The gallery of images below features the petroglyph rock I mentioned earlier. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.