After a few days under the rusty spires of Sedona, we headed back down to Scottsdale for significantly warmer weather, blue skies, and fields of cacti.
I was completely smitten with the landscape and color palette of the Sonoran desert, so calm. In this post, I'll show you a few hikes we took, and next post, I'll share more details about our stay in Scottsdale. Here we go!
Cave Creek Regional Park
Our first taste of the tall saguaros was in Cave Creek. We had to pay a small entrance fee, and I think because of that, the park was nearly empty. The trail walk was quiet with hundreds of cacti standing on the hills.
The main attraction in the park was the cacti named Michelin Man. Here he stands:
We learned that the stately saguaros grow very slowly, perhaps how they remain stable. A 6.5 foot cacti is about 70 years, and a 15-16 foot cacti is about 100 years--when they start to sprout arms. So these guys are oldies!
On the hike, we walked over a number of slate beds right in the path.
We passed a few posses of horse riders, and I was glad we were hiking because it seemed s-l-o-w. But it did lend an air of Western culture to the experience.
Cave Creek had a lovely visitor's center and the paths were so peaceful, almost meditative. The cacti always feel a little bit like they are watching me, and we enjoyed their still company.
Another day, we drove to probably the most popular hike near Phoenix, Pinnacle Peak.
The trail switchbacks up the side of the hill, ascending quickly but without being too intense. Loads of families with small kids joined us on the trail. Check out those killer tall cacti and chiseled hills.
As we ascended, the view looked down over the valley, much more built up than the desolate Cave Creek park. Swimming pools and golf courses galore!
But once we reached the top and hiked around, the scenery was rustic again.
The trail was interspersed with enormous boulders, just a peak at what was to come at our hotel.
And the cutest, fluffiest puff-balls of spikes you ever did see.
The vitamin D felt miraculous, and the whole mountain teaming with hikers on the first day of 2016 felt celebratory.
I never knew how beautiful hills of cacti and the stable, simple colors of the dessert were. Grateful for some time to soak it in.