Mile 122 to 138. 16 miles.
This was my favorite day on the trail so far. So much wildlife! Woke up to the dog running around and the family’s kids talking. Drank a Pepsi, ate and then hit the trail. The dog followed us up the trail a ways until she came across an all you can eat horse shit buffet. She literally was swallowing big horse turds. Nasty, but it stopped her from following us.
Since we only have 16 miles to walk today we decided we will take our time through saguaro national park with lots of breaks and pictures. I put away one trekking pole and had my big canon PowerShot sx 50 hs with a raynox 250 macro lens on for close ups. Holy balls, this was the right day to do this.
ocotillo about to bloomdesert morning
The morning was cool and wildflowers were everywhere. We ran into 2 older guys walking their dog near a trailhead and we got talking. Turns out one of these guys and Bill Muarry went to the exact same high school in Pennsylvania, but 64 years apart. Crazy small world!
We got to Rincon creek which was still flowing nicely and took a break. Less than a mile after that we came across a big western diamondback rattlesnake stretched out next to the trail! I got close and took some pictures and it didn’t move a muscle. I was just a few feet from him and its tongue never came out and I couldn’t see it breathing. Looked like he dried out and died… Until I poked him with my trekking pole and out popped his tongue! But still didn’t move an inch or rattle. Then I got closer with my big camera and he moved into coils and backed up towards some prickly pears. He gave out a hiss but no rattling. Took a bunch of pics and a video then we went our separate ways.
is he alive
We saw a few desert cottontails, a ground squirrel and some lizards in the flat areas around hope camp. Then we saw this big leggy creepy creature walk by us. When it stopped moving we saw that it was a huge jackrabbit! They are so goofy looking! Like a normal rabbit got stretched in every way. And the way it moved was just creepy looking! Hunched over and moving fast like some golem.
normal desert cottontail creepy ass jackrabbit.
Then we started up the mountainside and the park just came alive. Flowed everywhere! Saguaros everywhere! It’s insanely beautiful. It also started getting really hot. We could feel ourselves roasting in the sun. The only shade most of the day was the narrow strips of shade behind large saguaros. These cacti are amazing. They’re just massive and stand there perfectly balanced no matter how weird their branches twist out of them. They feel like a hard plastic with a waxy coating, the spines stiff and sharp but easily avoided.
gilded flicker on the lookout!
lupine chia!delphiniumfirst blooming ocotillo I’ve seen! Yall a week or so behind will probably see tons! the only aloe plant I ever saw in saguaro
Around 1 pm
or so it started getting cloudy, giving us a break from the burning sun. We walked along pretty mountainsides and occasionally crossed happily running streams not in our data book. Found a cute little horny toad!
Like a little dinosaur
Then it happened. Bill Muarry said the words I needed to hear. Gila monster! Right on the trail! I was so freaking stoked. A lifetime goal to see a Gila monster was finally achieved! And he was a big fatty! I got some good pictures and video with my big camera which I so conveniently decided to have on hand all day! They’re a fat, slow lizard and only one of two venomous lizards on earth. The other being the very similar mexican beaded lizard. The bite won’t kill you but it will hurt like no other. Also to be bitten you’d have to try and grab one. They are quick to go away from you as the fella we saw today did. Now I just need to see a scorpion and a tarantula and I’ll be satisfied for a long time.
just walking down the tail!
We finally made it to grass shack camp at about 3 pm just as it started to rain a little. It’s got a nice sized stream full and running right next to it. We met another thru hiker already set up here named Jules. She’s a nice gal who’s out to enjoy all the beauty out here. She also saw TWO Gila monsters today! We ate some food together and about an hour later Slugger showed up. He also saw two Gila monsters today! Must be a nice day for them! Or there are just lots here.
As the rest of the crew chatted I decided I would use the remaining daylight to look for more critters under rocks, and boy did that produce!!! I found some crazy mole crickets and these two killer dreaming awesome centipedes. Then I flipped a big rock and bam! Scorpion! And a black widow spider! Under the same rock! Some peoples nightmare, my dream! Took some pics of them and kept flipping rocks. Bill Muarry and Slugger walked around with me enjoying the finds as well! Found probably 10 scorpions in this little area in just a few minutes! Also lots of other beetles, spiders and lizards. Talk about an awesome wildlife day! Especially venomous animals! Rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, centipedes, scorpions and black widows, got them all!
Enjoy the pictures!!! 🙂
mole cricket!these are called cow killers. They look like big red fuzzy ants but are actually wingless wasps that parasitize other ground nesting wasps. And they pack an otherworldly sting.black widow! how cool is that!?i love them!