Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Hot and cold in Sabino Canyon . . .

Tuesday, we headed out to Sabino Canyon early for a nice hike on the Phoneline Trail, some 5 miles along the ridge line above the canyon floor. We weren't sure we could take on this big a hike, but we were ready to try.

Just by the visitor center we spotted this beautiful and unusual bird, a Pyrrhuloxia, a kind of cardinal, but red and gray, and unique to the Southwest and Mexico. I'm always thrilled when we can see, identify AND photo the bird! He seemed to know I really wanted to take the pic.

After shivering for three days without heat in the house, it seemed just right to shiver along the trail. Here the Saguaro cacti grow so tall against the mountains and sheltered from the wind, some must be nearly 200 years old. Each arm on the Saguaro may take up to 75 years to grow. Other cactii cling to the sides of rock walls, like this cholla (teddy bear) cactus. The trail was somewhat challenging but only to test our stamina, not our fear of heights. Note the white line behind the cholla -- that's the trail that winds along the ridge line, in and out canyons and down to the floor of Sabino Canyon.

At the end of the day, we returned home to a warm house, foot-weary, but far from snow. Today will be a quiet day in our desert retreat. This morning on the patio we saw a lovely pair of Gamble's Quail, a house finch brilliant red, and a curved-bill Thresher. Only two weeks and we're back on the road in the great Southwest.

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