Greetings, Friends, and welcome to another ramble through the Arizona desert with me. Today, Sunday, April 13, 2014, I have returned to the urban wilderness of the Salt River greenbelt about 2 miles south of downtown Phoenix. This is literally a couple of miles of what the Salt River would have been like before 6 dams got built on it upstream that diverted every bit of water into irrigation canals and city water supplies. It has water now because the City of Phoenix pumps some waste water back into it, thus creating a number of pools and a little bit of running water. We have been walking in this park before, and will probably go again. It is one of my favorite places around Phoenix. I had two motives for visiting it today. 1. I need a 2 or 3 mile walk every day for my health, and it sure would be nice to get some of those walks somewhere other than around my slummy neighborhood. 2. Lately, I’ve been questing for striped stones. I’ll tell you more about that in tomorrow’s blog, but riverbeds are a good place to look for them. The river cuts through many different sorts of terrain and has carried many different types of rocks downstream with it, mixing them all up in the process. A place that is all the same kind of rock is not a very good hunting ground when you want a variety of rocks
This is actually a good deal for you, dear Reader, as you get to see the best of what I saw on what was about 3 miles of meandering without the actual negative effects of getting sore feet along with being hot and sweaty. Ready? Let’s go!
I entered the park at the northeast entrance on 7th Avenue. Once beyond the parking lot, I found a sign that gave me my choices. I decided to go east toward Central.
I am looking sort of southwest from here. The nearer range of hills is part of South Mountain Park, and the farther range is called the Estrellas. (Estrellas is Spanish for stars.) There’s a bridge. I’m a troll. Trolls love bridges, so you’ll see a lot of bridge photos when I go walking. 🙂
There is an asphalt access road here for the use of park rangers. I decide to make the walking easier for myself by staying on the paved area, at least at the beginning. The hill in the distance marks the western edge of Tempe.
Looking down at the river. I’m staring at it to see if I can locate the source of a strange honking noise coming from somewhere down there. Might be a goose, or a bullfrog, or a river monster. I’m not that great at identifying animal noises.
Still hearing the honking. Sometime I would like to come out here with a tape recorder and just collect weird noises.
I stopped here because of the rock field. I collected my first striper here, a hefty fellow that probably weighs about 5 pounds. Then I got distracted by the pretty flowers. This is desert spring–when the cacti flower. The broad-leafed cactus you see is a prickly pear. It has an edible fruit, and some lovely orange and gold flowers.
A closer look at the flowers from right above them on a different cactus. Yikes! There are bees in some of these flowers. Stay calm. Don’t bother them, and they won’t bother me. You will be happy to know that I did not get stung.
I really am not very far from downtown Phoenix. This is a telefoto shot, but the high-rises are probably less than 2 miles away.
Here’s another shot toward town. The double arches you see are the east and west ends of Chase Field where the Arizona Diamondbacks play baseball. The roof is open The tall peak you see in the distance is Piestawa Peak, renamed about 10 or 15 years ago (time flies when you’re not paying attention) for an Arizona Native American woman who was killed while serving with our armed forces during the Iraq war. Before the Arizona Legislature changed its name, this big hill was called Squaw Peak.
A better shot of Phoenix without the iron fence in the way. I kind of love to take pictures of my hometown city, so you will probably see a lot of them if you keep reading this blog.
Woo hoo! Arizona sky and a jet heading for Skyharbor airport. I don’t have a really great camera, so I’m kind of surprised I was able to get this good a picture of it.
I came to a fork in the road. The bridge up ahead is on Central Avenue which divides Phoenix into an eastern and a western half. I took the low road . . .
The small bridge crosses this channel and waterfall bringing water from the city into the river.
Who knew? Walking under the Central Bridge, I found art. This art has a message. Recycle and don’t pollute.
Looking south there’s art in the other direction too.
The next span over has more art. Looking toward the city we see the city. That dates the art as sometime after 1998 when the D-backs and Chase Field both got their start.
Another message: Every Drop Counts was a slogan for water conservation in the desert about 20 years ago.
I like the foreground with all the different kinds of animals you might encounter down here in the river park. Look! There is that prickly pear cactus in bloom that I showed you.
The state flag of Arizona.
What the hey? What are these four broken pillars doing out here?
Here’s another park sign, but with an error. 7th Street might be relatively close, but it’s not four one-hundredths of a mile to the east–more like four tenths of a mile. I had only planned to walk to Central, but with the next bridge only .4 miles away, what the heck? Walk on, Ken!
This path crosses the river. 100 yards to the west is water and a wetland forest. Here it is dry as a bone. I walked across, found a couple more rocks for my collection.
It didn’t take long to reach the 7th Street bridge.
There is an oasis here too, but no art under the bridge.
Ever wonder what the bottom of a bridge looks like? Now you know. When you are down here, the cars passing above you sound like thunder.
I am walking back to the car now. I already have at least 10 pounds of striped stones. I have probably seen a million rocks, and found about ten worth picking up. The camera says the batteries are low. I find this little stream and in my imagination it becomes a wild river leading into an unknown wilderness.
As long as my imagination is running away with me, this iron door becomes the sally port of a castle. This wall looks a bit like the base of a castle tower.
The distance between 7th Ave. and 7th Street is 1.2 miles according to the signs. I actually wandered off the straight line several times, so I figure I walked at least 1.5 miles each way, thus making a 3 mile hike.
I took pictures a little while ago of the rocks I found on this expedition. I’ll show them to you in a really dull geology blog tomorrow or sometime soon. Or maybe I’ll just post them on Facebook.
If you would go walking thru urban wilderness with me, why not leave a comment?