Arizona State Parks
Last week my adventures led me to Estrella Mountain Regional Park for a short hike into the desert. It’s funny to me when I hear “regional park” I think of big green parks, like those in California and some other states. Here it’s miles of desert with developed gravel or dirt roads, maintained trails, cactus, and brush, often unexpected park facilities like tables, fire pits, and parking. Usually a nice entrance with a park office and gift shop. In the case of Estrella Mountain, there was a newer horse arena with lights and numerous baseball diamonds in one area. Many of its parks have covered playgrounds, some quite large. From my observations, most of these facilities are unused during the hotter seasons but Arizona definitely invests in its hiking trails and recreational facilities!
I haven’t covered preparation for going on hikes, whether here in the desert or the lush mountains. I use the “All Trails” app almost exclusively for choosing a hike or outing. If you haven’t used this yet, it’s a great tool for planning your hikes. You can identify trails around you, how popular they are along with other physical descriptions of the terrain.
Water is so overlooked by most people and that will get a person into trouble almost immediately. I purchased a “Camelbak” water pack.
There are many sizes and styles for any sport. I chose a “day waist pack” since I mostly go on short hikes. The pack holds 2 liters of water and it stays cool in the pack. It also has room for the following items: compass, whistle, weather protection, sunscreen, at least minimal first aid supplies (for you and your dog if you have a companion), nourishment for the length of time you are traveling plus extra for unforeseen problems.
I also carry a “Leatherman” tool. Getting ready to go by checking your list should be deliberate. Several times I have driven an hour only to discover I forgot sunscreen and had to buy yet another tube, which isn’t cheap.
I left late morning with plans to arrive around 9 AM. I would hike in and out in less than 2 hours before the heat of the day. On arriving I met Steve who told me he had moved from California 45 years ago and loves it here.
Steve’s daughter lives in Missoula, about 45 minutes from my home-base in Hamilton. He was getting ready to go on a ride up the trail I chose but would continue out of the park into the desert for the day. On his departure, I asked him if I could get a shot of him and his horse and he obliged. Then off he rode and off I walked! I enjoy the hike, but I like the idea of bringing your horse along (if I had one).
After walking a short ways across the valley I see group of people on horseback.
I continued my trek into the desert and never saw another soul. The quiet almost hurt my ears. It’s a time you can focus on the miracle of life around you. On my search to find life in the desert, I did see some more blooms that fascinate me. I know it’s late in the season. Next year I will get out here earlier so I can experience the full bloom.
On the way back out I discovered mountain lion tracks, but didn’t see any other evidence of one in the area. A stimulating walk in the desert overall and not seeing another human being until my hike back out, right when I approached the trail head. Several groups of riders going out for the day and afternoon.
Until next time, Safe Travels…Gary