I couldn't decide what to do for my Saturday hike and was dinging around on the Cave Creek Recreational site as I was investigating the Go John hike and saw a group hike called "The Beautiful Desert Hike" in the Estrellas. I had not ever been down in that area so I tought I would give it a try.
We did a combination of the Toothaker and Coldwater Trails loop. There were about 13 of us from young to old. Well let me tell you, we need to really appreciate the hikes that I've been seeing on the trip logs as this Estrella area is very desolate. The ranger said they just don't get the rain and believe me, it shows. It has some interesting topography as there is a dry river bed that you hike around down and through on the Toothaker Trail.
There was very little wildflower activity and the underbrush is all dried up. The ranger said the rain drops at the White Tanks and on the Indian reservation on the south so that this area gets next to nothing. There was quite a lot of hedge hogs, some cholla on the south side of the trail, and fortunately sahuaros. There is one sahuaro that had a deformed arm forming the look of the crescent cactus.
The great thing about the hike was learning how to identify the flowers. However, the ranger kept calling the fiddleneck the fiddlehead
; a few of us were amused. Oh and the ranger said that generally the bird that flies with the straigt out wings are generally hawks and the birds that fly in groups and have more of a curved wing are vultures (but I can't remember what kind) - black with white tips I think. I'll have to see if we have them on Hike AZ fauna.
It's not a hike I would do again anytime soon but I met some nice people and learned a lot. Plus since I didn't make it to Rocky Point, that trip would classify as my West Valley excursion. I did hear from one of the other hikers that belongs to a hiking club at Pebble Creek that the White Tanks are great so I'll put them on my list.
2 other notes - the ranger said the Game and Fish is always looking for volunteers that can involve wildlife watching etc.
2nd - I now found a way to limit my picture taking. Go on a guided hike and then I can't stop as much as I normally would. In 4.5 hours I only took 84 pictures.