During our first week in Arizona we bought groceries, visited hardware stores, registered the Plucky Corolla, and did other chores necessary to set ourselves up as part-time Arizonians. Alas, getting out into the desert for a hike was not on the list. Until now.
We drove north about twenty miles to the site of a landslide that happened roughly half a million years ago. That’s about 6000 years if you’re a Biblical literalist.
The forecast was a high of 68 degrees with 10-15 MPH winds. By Seattle standards, a perfect day for a hike. To locals accustomed to warmer weather, an arctic blast. Perhaps I exaggerate.
This was a pretty easy hike, a little under five miles and mostly flat. We picked the route because Mary Anne has been feeling a little under the weather the past couple of days.
The first thing we came across were “mushrooms”. As I understand it, they form from solid blocks of granite when the forces of erosion work more quickly on the sides than the top. Or it could be desert gnome magic. In any case, they eventually fall when the base can no longer support the top.
Interesting isn’t it how a once solid mass of granite fractures then breaks apart and the pieces roll downhill to form “pyramids”. If you pour sugar or salt onto a plate, you’ll get the same shape. It’s the stable form.
My nemesis, the Jumping Cholla. But that’s another story. Let me just say that these things drop cute little spine-covered golf balls. Don’t touch.
Here’s another mushroom. According to the sign it’s not long before it will topple. “Not long” to a geologist does not mean “later this week”.
I like this one because when you look at it from the side, it reminds me of the hood ornament from an old (I think) Pontiac. The Chief’s profile is on the right and feathered wings on the left. Work with me in this.
We finally arrived at the scene of the landslide. The big brains who understand this stuff say that the mass travelled at about 44 MPH and the event lasted a couple of minutes. I’m pretty sure that 500,000 years ago anything that was around to witness this event had never seen something so big move so fast.
The rock flow is pretty easy to spot in person, not sure whether you can pick it out in the second photo. Look beyond the grass. It’s the jumbled mass of rocks behind.
In the third photo, we’ve climbed up into the flow and are looking up to where the landslide began. Notice how different the rocks look compared to the ones at the far right.
Mother and baby Orca, or Mama Bear and Baby Bear?
I see three things here, a head facing left and another next to it facing right. At the summit, I see a bird of prey, wings at its side and beak facing right. I clearly need more sleep or less Guinness.
In closing, let me point out that sometimes cacti, like people, make things harder for themselves than necessary.