A hike with Tom

January 6, 2007

This morning, Tom and I went on a 2-mile hike through Pima Wash, a section of Phoenix’s South Mountain Park, purportedly the largest municipal park in the world. This is a great time of year to hike around here–not too hot. I was inspired to blog about our little walk by my cousin Kryna who lives in Scotland with her husband. She has been blogging about some walks they’ve taken, and I thought I would share a little of our environs, too.

Here’s some of the fauna:

the boy

Actually, we didn’t see too many animals except people. Tom wanted to see a lizard, but it was too cold for them to be out this morning. We did see some cactus wrens and also scared up a few coveys of quail with their little bobs. No pictures, though–they were too far away and blended in with the desert scrub quite well.

Here are a couple of our desert giants, the famous saguaros of the Sonoran desert:

saguaro 1

saguaro 2

My personal favorite, the palo verde:

palo verde
South Mountain Park is big, but you can’t get away from all “civilization” this close to town (the park is only five miles from our front door). But I did like these power lines:

power lines

Here a couple photos of miscellaneous cacti. I’m no botanist, so I can’t name all of them, but I do know that this first one is called a cholla and the third is a dormant ocotillo:


cactus and light


My hiking buddy:

Tom on a rock

Tom closeup

The last bunch of pictures are my favorites that I took today. They include a dead tree, some ruins of old park buildings, and some glyphs on a rock. There are lots of petroglyphs in Phoenix and Tempe, left on the rocks by the Hohokam, a group that no longer exists.

dead tree



I’m no great photographer, but I hope you enjoy some of the places we went this morning. Arizona is an astonishing place.


7 Responses to “A hike with Tom”

  1. Evonne Says:

    Great stuff. Hiking is not one of my favorites but I do love it once I get up the courage to do it. Bet Tom loved it and enjoyed the time spent alone with his dad. AZ is beautiful in its on way. I always get kind of lonely or something when going thru a desert. Gerrit always teases me as he loves it out there. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Dave Bonta Says:

    Nice pictures.

    The Hohokam is a very interesting civilization – they were masters of both dry land and irrigated agriculture, as I’m sure you know. I subscribe to the revisionist view that their infrastructure only collapsed in the mid-15th century, due to the 80-90 percent die-off from European-introduced diseases — they would have been very vulnerable, with so much depending on corvee labor. Their descendents the O’odham probably preserve what would have been the traditions of the common people. My brother the Latin American geographer tells me there are plenty of other examples of urban civilizations in Central and South America where something similar happened: the culture survived, but the aristocracy and priesthood did not.

  3. Lori Witzel Says:

    I miss that part of it — not the 115 degree days, not the perfectly verdant manicured lawns sunk below pavement level for irrigation flooding each morning, not the endless sameness of the pink stucco strip malls — but the prickly, old, loose rock underfoot part of it.

    Thanks for that hike — it is cold, and wet/rainy, with low dense dark clouds here, and uncharacteristically gloomy winter day, and I appreciate the dose of vicarious sun!

    BTW — those green thangs? Some dense vine clinging to and growing up the stucco on a downtown Whole Foods. Titled it “Cling / Wrap” since the plant was over-running the wall, and was clinging like velcro on steroids where it grew.


  4. sheepdays Says:

    Evonne–oh, maybe the desert is not for everyone, but it sure is for me. I love it here. At least come visit!

    Dave–thanks for your notes on the Hohokam. This brings up the prickly question of cultural continuity. You make the important distinction that just because the priests and aristocracy have ceased does not mean that all traces of the civilization are gone. Though, I’m not really sure how socially- and class-differentiated the Hohokam were. The Maya are a good example of this of what you mention. My adviser at Ariz. State is a Mayanist, and he notes that current Maya are often skeptical that the ruins (Tikal, Chichen Itza, etc.) were made by their ancestors. What carries forward? What a question to spend a life answering! I have some Tohono Oodham and Pima friends who claim the Hohokam as their forebears. Probaby true, at least in part.

    Lori–you come, too. We’ll hike around a little. We miss Austin for the rainy days–though not the terrible summer humidity! Great photo–it’s like Whole Foods is being eaten by green.

  5. Dave Bonta Says:

    Iā€™m not really sure how socially- and class-differentiated the Hohokam were. Who knows? I think archaeologists simply extrapolated from the way their cities were built, with a few, much more sumptuous dwellings around the plaza on top of those raised platforms, or whatever they were. I’m sure you know much more about this than I do.

  6. Kryna Says:

    Awsome pictures! I love cactus. On the vacation we went on in 2000 out to CA, we were dying to see a cactus. One of the giant ones. We through miles and miles of desert. Hours and hours. You know how dad takes vacations.

    Well, finally we came around a corner on old Rt. 66 and there was a huge one right by the side of the road. The picture is a little blurred, but we got it!

    Looks like Tom had a blast too!

  7. adan Says:

    quite a hike…thanks

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