Thursday, March 11, 2021

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Day One

At Organ Pipe, we were joined by another cruising couple from our Rio Dulce Tortugal Marina, Rick Stone, and Marsha Green, S/V  She Wolf. They live in Prescott, AZ, and have an RV as well. They couldn't get reservations in the park so stayed up in Why (yes, that's the name of the town) at Coyote Howls RV Park. Dave and Ellen and ourselves drove up there for a great Shrimp Creole dinner that Marsha made. The next night they came down our campground in the park and Ellen made a sausage stew and salad. 

On our first full day in the park, we took the Ranger's advice and drove the 21-mile loop on the other side of the highway. He loaned us a booklet that gave detailed information about the eighteen stops along the road. We took turns reading the descriptions and it added a great deal to the trip. About mid-way we hiked the Arches Canyon trail up into the mountains. It was an easy to moderate experience until the end of the official trail, then he had warned us that volunteers had marked with cairns a continuation up to the ridge. Scott and I started up but it was more rock climbing than hiking and looked even harder to come down, so we passed.

It was hard to imagine how so many desperate Mexicans managed to make their way over these barren dry mountains and deserts. But signs that they do were everywhere. We saw warning signs on every trail and there were Border Patrol vehicles in evidence frequently. All the roads down to the border that we used had big official checkpoints. Interestingly, we saw high blue flags here and there in the desert that marked big black water tanks. We wondered if this was purely kindness or some kind of booby trap. Days later we learned that church groups had placed these and although some had been prosecuted, the cases were thrown out of court. Our next day we passed a larger flagged post that had a red button and a sign telling whoever that help would come if they pressed the button! When we returned to our car, we saw a sign on the windshield of the border patrol car which told of meeting 3 immigrants. 

The Ocotillo plants were in bloom in some 
sections of the desert. The word means "little
torch" in Spanish due to the bright red blossoms
at the end of the plants.

This was our campsite in the park - distanced 
from other sites and very level.

The ocotillo is more closely related to tea and blueberries than cactus

You can get a feel for the size here.

Hanging Chain Cholla or Jumping Cholla likes
to hitch a ride on whoever comes too close.

Saguaros are most common and endlessly fun

The trail up to Arches Canyon was well marked

Loose stones made concentration on your feet
necessary so we stopped often to admire the 

A distant view of the distinctive
double arches.

And now a close-up

A view of the trail we started up
but abandoned.

These signs were throughout the 
parks on the border. Someone had
handwritten "if you see them,
give them water"

One of the few flowers we saw at this time of year

A common site throughout the area

A "helpful" hiker left this on the window.

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