Archive for the ‘Rio Salado Park’ Category

Salt River Morning Walk   3 comments

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!

2014-04-12 20.51.51

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.

2014-04-12 20.51.59

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. 🙂

2014-04-12 20.52.11

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.

2014-04-12 20.53.39

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.

2014-04-12 20.53.50

Still hearing the honking. Sometime I would like to come out here with a tape recorder and just collect weird noises.

2014-04-12 20.55.11

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.

2014-04-12 20.55.32

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.

2014-04-12 20.59.35

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.

2014-04-12 21.00.57

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.

2014-04-12 21.01.06

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.

2014-04-12 21.01.11

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.

2014-04-12 21.02.45

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 . . .

2014-04-12 21.05.09and found a bridge leading to a bridge!
2014-04-12 21.06.32

The small bridge crosses this channel and waterfall bringing water from the city into the river.

2014-04-12 21.08.30

Who knew? Walking under the Central Bridge, I found art.  This art has a message. Recycle and don’t pollute.

2014-04-12 21.08.53

Looking south there’s art in the other direction too.

2014-04-12 21.09.40

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.

2014-04-12 21.09.48

Another message: Every Drop Counts was a slogan for water conservation in the desert about 20 years ago.

2014-04-12 21.09.55

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.

2014-04-12 21.10.11

The state flag of Arizona.

2014-04-12 21.12.16

What the hey? What are these four broken pillars doing out here?

2014-04-12 21.15.15

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!

2014-04-12 21.21.46

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.

2014-04-12 21.23.38

It didn’t take long to reach the 7th Street bridge.

2014-04-12 21.39.42

There is an oasis here too, but no art under the bridge.

2014-04-12 21.40.22

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.

2014-04-12 21.56.13

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.

2014-04-12 21.58.05

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.

2014-04-12 22.00.07And the last picture my camera would take is of this beautiful trash can. I tell you, art is everywhere in Phoenix.

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?

–end

Advertisements

Urban Wilderness Revisited   4 comments

We’ve been here before.  Rio Salado Park is an effort by the City of Phoenix to turn a dry riverbed into a park.  The city pumps in water between 7th Street and 15th Avenue which turns the area into a wetland.  It is quite a good habitat for small wildlife, and I like to go there just to see what animals I can spot.  There are four different quadrants, and I have now explored them all.  Yesterday’s walk covered the northwest side of the river between 7th Avenue and 19th Avenue.

I parked my car in the area provided on the northeast side of 7th Ave. and made my  way down toward the river.

First view of the river--a green and pleasant place, but you can't walk there because it's all water below the surface.

First view of the river–a green and pleasant place, but you can’t walk there because it’s all water below the surface.

Looking southeast toward the 7th Ave. bridge.

Looking southwest toward the 7th Ave. bridge.

My hike begins. My goal is the bridge at 19th Ave. The sign lies. It might be 1.2 miles as the crow flies,but it is farther and harder walking on the cobbles down beside the river.

My hike begins. My goal is the bridge at 19th Ave. The sign lies. It might be 1.2 miles as the crow flies,but it is farther and harder walking on the cobbles down beside the river.

What can I say? I'm a troll at heart, and I just like to be under bridges. Wilderness and civilization side by side.

What can I say? I’m a troll at heart, and I just like to be under bridges. Wilderness and civilization side by side.

Looking southwest at the greenest part of the river.

Looking southwest at the greenest part of the river.

It looks easy, but this is rough terrain. Every little rock wants to stab your foot or turn and spill you on the ground.

It looks easy, but this is rough terrain. Every little rock wants to stab your foot or turn and spill you on the ground.

What a jungle!

What a jungle!

Almost everything growing here is green, but this tree is purple.

Almost everything growing here is green, but this tree is purple.

About 1/3 of the way to my goal, I reached a gully entering the river.  This iron bridge crosses it, but, of course, I'm down by the river, and can't reach the bridge without going a long way back which I don't want to do.

About 1/3 of the way to my goal, I reached a gully entering the river. This iron bridge crosses it, but, of course, I’m down by the river, and can’t reach the bridge without going a long way back which I don’t want to do.

Trying to cross the ravine. The picture doesn't really show it, but this is vertical distance I must cross.

Trying to cross the ravine. The picture doesn’t really show it, but this is vertical distance I must cross.

As I walked I was surrounded by the flutter of wings and the sound of bird calls, some of them very strange calls, but it was hard to take pictures of them. This bird held still long enough for me to capture him after I climbed up out of the gully I had just crossed.

As I walked I was surrounded by the flutter of wings and the sound of bird calls, some of them very strange calls, but it was hard to take pictures of them. This bird held still long enough for me to capture him after I climbed up out of the gully I had just crossed.

You know how there is this stereotype of wandering through the desert and finding a sun-bleached skull.  Well, I found one.  I'm guessing this is a dog or cat skull, but it could be a fox or coyote.  Your guess is as good as mine. It is bizarre to find a skull. I didn't touch it--left it for the viewing pleasure of anyone else daring to walk this rough terrain.

You know how there is this stereotype of wandering through the desert and finding a sun-bleached skull. Well, I found one. I’m guessing this is a dog or cat skull, but it could be a fox or coyote. Your guess is as good as mine. It is bizarre to find a skull. I didn’t touch it–left it for the viewing pleasure of anyone else daring to walk this rough terrain.

2013-05-18 20.55.24

Tunnels.  I'd like to explore these tunnels below the city and the desert, but there is no access for someone like me.

Tunnels. I’d like to explore these tunnels below the city and the desert, but there is no access for someone like me.

I have passed most of the greenery now, and am looking toward my goal.

I have passed most of the greenery now, and am looking toward my goal.

The 19th Ave. bridge is in sight.  This kind of rocky streambed is rough walking--you have to be very careful where you put your feet.

The 19th Ave. bridge is in sight. This kind of rocky streambed is rough walking–you have to be very careful where you put your feet.

I am close to my goal.  I have walked a mile and a half, and it is about 9 a.m. with a temperature in the 90s.

I am close to my goal. I have walked a mile and a half, and it is about 9 a.m. with a temperature in the 90s.

2013-05-18 21.26.10

Ah, shade! Now I am below the 19th Ave. bridge.  It has been a rough walk.  My feet are starting to hurt, even though I'm wearing my best new hiking shoes. I am going to see if I can't climb out of the river, and find an easier way back to my car.

Ah, shade! Now I am below the 19th Ave. bridge. It has been a rough walk. My feet are starting to hurt, even though I’m wearing my best new hiking shoes. I am going to see if I can’t climb out of the river, and find an easier way back to my car.

The last pool in this part of the river.

The last pool in this part of the river.

Wild oleander flowers.

Wild oleander flowers.

I climbed out of the riverbed below the bridge.  From the amount of trash on the ground, this is obviously the place where other people had climbed down into it.

I climbed out of the riverbed below the bridge. From the amount of trash on the ground, this is obviously the place where other people had climbed down into it.

Resting under the bridge . . . this is a kind of tunnel, not high enough for me to stand up in.  Will I have to crawl through it to head back?

Resting under the bridge . . . this is a kind of tunnel, not high enough for me to stand up in. Will I have to crawl through it to head back?

No. I found a better spot where I could walk through.  My plan is to follow the road back atop the reinforced riverbank.

No. I found a better spot where I could walk through. My plan is to follow the road back atop the reinforced riverbank.

I got a good shot of the skyline of central Phoenix.  The city core is only about 2 to 3 miles away.

I got a good shot of the skyline of central Phoenix. The city core is only about 2 to 3 miles away.

This is an access path through a sand and gravel company's private property.  There is no one around to ask me what I'm doing here on Sunday morning.

This is an access path through a sand and gravel company’s private property. There is no one around to ask me what I’m doing here on Sunday morning.

Walking eastward now, I am cut off from the river by this chainlink fence.  It looks flat, but that is a 60 degree slope down to the riverbed, and not much room to walk on the other side of the fence.  No cliff-walking for me on this trip.

Walking eastward now, I am cut off from the river by this chainlink fence. It looks flat, but that is a 60 degree slope down to the riverbed, and not much room to walk on the other side of the fence. No cliff-walking for me on this trip.

A glance back at the 19th Ave. bridge.  I was down there just a little while ago.

A glance back at the 19th Ave. bridge. I was down there just a little while ago.

There is a long hot dry road in front of me, but it's better than trying to walk along the stony riverbottom.

There is a long hot dry road in front of me, but it’s better than trying to walk along the stony riverbottom.

I made this walk hoping to see some wildlife, and not in a zoo. All I saw were birds, bunnies, and bugs--a couple of rabbits at the very beginning of my walk, but hundreds of these birds along the trail.

I made this walk hoping to see some wildlife, and not in a zoo. All I saw were birds, bunnies, and bugs–a couple of rabbits at the very beginning of my walk, but hundreds of these birds along the trail.

Birds on a fence.  Mostly the birds flew away before I could photograph them, but this fraction of the flock let me get close enough to catch them on film.

Birds on a fence. Mostly the birds flew away before I could photograph them, but this fraction of the flock let me get close enough to catch them on film.

More birds. I believe these are desert doves, related to pigeons, but not as annoying.

More birds. I believe these are desert doves, related to pigeons, but not as annoying.

I can see the greenery again.  This is an island, and on that island lives some really large white bird.  I saw it fly on the trip out, but couldn't tell wht it was--perhaps a swan or an egret.  I think that little white spot on the right middle edge of the photo is the bird.

I can see the greenery again. This is an island, and on that island lives some really large white bird. I saw it fly on the trip out, but couldn’t tell wht it was–perhaps a swan or an egret. I think that little white spot on the right middle edge of the photo is the bird.

.

No reason to take this picture. I just love looking at green.

I found another sign.  I still have a mile to walk.  It's 10 a.m. and 100  degrees on the ground, and the bottom of my feet are really sore and tender.

I found another sign. I still have a mile to walk. It’s 10 a.m. and 100 degrees on the ground, and the bottom of my feet are really sore and tender.

This shot of downtown Phoenix makes it look like it's built on a slag heap.  There was this amazing hole in the ground full of rocks.

This shot of downtown Phoenix makes it look like it’s built on a slag heap. There was this amazing hole in the ground full of rocks.

The end is in sight.  The 7th Ave. bridge is about 1/4 of a mile away.

The end is in sight. The 7th Ave. bridge is about 1/4 of a mile away.

I am finally going to see that iron bridge up close.

I am finally going to see that iron bridge up close.

This is the gully the bridge crosses--a kind of a hidden wound leading back toward the city.

This is the gully the bridge crosses–a kind of a hidden wound leading back toward the city.

You get to see the top of a bridge for once.  I guess bridges are the fourth B of this trip. Bunnies, Birds, Bugs, and Bridges.

You get to see the top of a bridge for once. I guess bridges are the fourth B of this trip. Bunnies, Birds, Bugs, and Bridges.

The black car is mine. By this time it is the most welcome sight of the entire trip.

The black car is mine. By this time it is the most welcome sight of the entire trip.

That completed my latest walk through this urban wilderness.  I covered about 3 miles in mid morning on May 19.  I took water along with me, and ate a grapefruit at the beginning of my hike.  I wore the Trollgod’s hat to keep the sun off my head, and kept myself hydrated.  I saw 2 rabbits, hundreds of birds, hundreds of bugs, many of them a kind of black desert dragonfly that live in the swampy part of the river.  There was no one with me to take my picture on this trip.

I wish you had been there to hike with me, since it’s always great to have some companionship when trudging through the wilderness, but even if you can’t be with me, I’m still going to go out and walk about from time to time.

If you know anything about the birds I photographed, leave a comment.  🙂

–end

The Other Side of the River   1 comment

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.

Two-headed duck.

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.

–end