On Sunday, September 21, 2012, I decided to get out of my apartment for another early morning hike. I really wanted to see some kind of wildlife, so I went to the one place where I’ve seen a lot of animal life before, the bed of the Salt River that has been turned into a park stretching from 24th Street to 19th Avenue. The City of Phoenix has been adding water back into the riverbed–don’t know if it is waste water or irrigation water or where it comes from, but the City is making about 5 miles of river in the center of the valley. It was a beautiful day for hiking, too bad I was by myself. I brought along my camera, and what follows is my record of my walk. I especially tried to get pictures of animals, so look closely and see if you can spot the beasties my human eye spotted and tried to get on camera. I probably need a better camera for this sort of picture taking. I’m sure Brian’s latest toy would have done a much better job, but I work with what I have.
Although this looks like a view of the parking area where I left my car, and started the walk, it is really included to show the skyline of Phoenix to the north. Maybe I should have climbed up on the wall to get a better angle on it.
Telescopic view of the 7th Avenue bridge with the city beyond it. I have learned to use the telephoto ability of my camera, and sometimes I even remember to do so.
View from beneath the 7th Avenue Bridge.
Daffy Duck? From the south side of the river, one can get much closer to the water.
One of seven pools along this stretch of “river”. It looks natural, but the City’s Parks Department built it. This water is way up above the natural bottom of the river. Pumps must be involved.
For a desert rat like me, this is kind of a strange sight. Peaceful. Kind of makes me wish I could be that duck for a short while.
Access road on the south side of the river. Easy walking.
Side trail leading down to the river.
The heart of the forest. Early in the walk I reached the greenest part of the park.
Looking back toward the 7th Ave. bridge. You can see my trademark shadow in the picture thus proving it was really me taking these pictures.
a hidden pool.
No fishing! It would take a very determined fisherman to get down to the water around here. I wonder what kind of fish, the city has put into the river.
Tangled. I think I was trying to photograph a dragonfly here, but I don’t see it.
First glimpse of Bugs. There’s a rabbit in this picture. Can you find it?
One step closer with the telephoto on.
The road twists and turns. This feels about right for me–the proper mixture between nature and civilization.
This looks like a birch tree to me. You don’t see many birch trees in the Phoenix area. It is too hot and dry for them.
I saw another rabbit, but it blends into the scenery very well. This seems to be the main area for rabbits along this trail. There are probably hundreds of them.
Big scummy pool–i wonder what lurks below the surface.
The ground here is full of holes. Snakes and small rodents live in these, and there is a maze of small tunnels beneath all this vegetation.
There’s a bird in here somewhere.
I met some park rangers. They told me about the seven pools on the river, and about some of the wildlife I didn’t see. They saw a coyote that morning, and there are rumors of beavers living on the river. Back before Arizona was a state, there were plenty of beavers living on Arizona rivers, but they were trapped and hunted to extinction by the mountain men before 1850. I enjoyed my chat with these guys.
Waterfall. I have walked almost all the way to Central Avenue. Water is entering the river here from the south.
West side of the Central Avenue bridge. Central Avenue splits the Phoenix area into eastern and western halves.
The eastern side of the Central Avenue bridge. Note the massive buttresses supporting the bridge. In the past during floods, the bridges supported only by pillars like those at 7th Avenue would often be undermined and crumble, but the Central Avenue bridge never failed.
Anthill. When I was a boy in Phoenix, there were anthills everywhere, and a favorite game was collecting ants in a large bottle and having one’s own ant colony. Now, I go years without seeing anthills sometimes, and if you do find them, they are the tiny black ants. These are red ants, but not the big red fire ants i remember playing with as a child.
- These white flowers look almost like lillies, and were growing along the river wherever the ground was open enough.
Riverbed showing finely sorted pebbles, all about the same size and composition. I saw some kind of desert squirrel here, but it didn’t hold still long enough for me to catch a picture of it.
There were a fair number of butterflies in the air, and there is a yellow butterfly in the center of this picture on the bush. With wings folded it was almost invisible, and you could see right through the filmy yellow wings.
I have reached the 7th Street bridge, about 14 blocks east of where I started. You can tell I am a troll–I have a fondness for being beneath bridges.
View of the river east of 7th Street. There are parking areas here too, and I may come and start my walk from this part of the river some time in the future.
I found this plastic Chevy hubcap at my easternmost part of the walk, off the main road. I’m sorry to say there was plenty of litter in the park. I picked up the hubcap and brought it home with me as a symbol of my walk, and a bit of clean up.
At this point I turned back, and walked as quickly as I could back to my car. I meant to take a few other pictures, but the batteries were low, and the camera refused to work. I had one more encounter, came across a big gray rabbit with a white tail, on my way back. At one point it passed beside me no more than six feet from me, but he was really moving. I saw it clearly, but there was no chance to photo it.
So, there you have it. My animal encounters started with a black duck and ended with a gray rabbit with a white tail. If they aren’t Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny, two of my cartoon heroes sent to brighten up my day by a benevolent universe, then there is no greater power that caters to the whims of men. Ducks and rabbits are common animals, but being superstitious, I consider their appearance to be a kind of gift. Thank you, World!
The hubcap and the Trollgod’s hat are home now. The hubcap is really too dirty to bring into the house, but it has a position of honor on the concrete wall just outside my front door. The circle is complete, and once again I have returned to the place from which I started.
I hope you have enjoyed my little walk along the Salt River bed. The pictures are nothing special–just a record of a couple of hours in one morning of my life. In this age of computers and high tech, this kind of interaction with the world gets less and less common. Who knows what will be of value, and to whom? I leave this record in hopes that someone, somewhere, somewhen will get something of value from it.
If you know anything about Arizona’s urban wilderness, or even if you don’t, please feel free to leave a comment.