Ernie and I hiked the trails at Piestewa Peak today, pushing our luck a little bit with the advent of warmer weather, now that it's April. We lucked out – it was overcast all morning, and there was a cool breeze. I only needed to drink my water because I was huffing and puffing from the climb.
If you don't live in the desert, you may not be able to tell how fat and sassy these plants are from the extra rain we got this year. They're built to take advantage of every drop, and to store that water in their tissues. The saguaros have pleated sides that can expand when they're holding more water and contract when the water level drops again.
This mountain complex is located in Northeastern Phoenix. It's made up of low-grade metamorphic rocks that were eventually pushed up and tilted by molten material that stretched the Basin and Range Province starting about 17 million years ago. The rocks are mostly slate, phyllite, and quartzite, with eroded seams of quartz. This time of year, the trails are full of wildflowers and happy hikers.
Piestewa Peak is one of the places that city folk can get away from the grind and into the wild. It's an ancient place, unintimidated by the city crowding around it. Every time we hike here, it reminds me of what I really want – and what I don't want.
This place has gnarlitude. The older I get, the more I appreciate that.