Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Traveling the Apache Trail

Monday Morning we left early heading to Apache Junction and the start of the Apache Trail. The Apache Trail, which is Arizona Route 88,is a breathtaking drive from the edge of Mesa to the town of Globe, via Theodore Roosevelt Lake, through the Superstition Mountains and the Tonto National Forest; 40 miles of steep, winding and mostly unpaved road past magnificent scenery of mountains with dense forests of saguaro and several deep blue lakes with dramatic canyon walls dropping down to the crystal water. Past Roosevelt Lake, the trail continues on to paved roads, to the copper mining towns of Globe and Miami. The trail was built at the turn of the last century as a road to get building materials through the Superstition Mountains to the Roosevelt Dam, following the trail of the aboriginal Indians of previous centuries.

As we were beginning the drive and first saw the mountains drop to the edge of Canyon Lake, my first thought was of the Bavarian Alps and the lakes at Garmisch and Bertchesgarten. Continuing on, you are reminded of the beauty of the Grand Canyon and the mountains in Denver. As we stopped at Fish Creek Canyon, we read a quote from President Teddy Roosevelt which really summed up the entire experience:

"The Apache Trail combines the grandeur of the Alps, the glory of the Rockies, the magnificence of the Grand Canyon and then adds an indefinable something that none of the others have. To me, it is the most awe-inspiring and most sublimely beautiful panorama nature has created,"

The desert ground would normally be brown and dry, where it is now lush and green, surrounding the Church

Since there has been quite a bit of rain here in Southern Arizona and in the Sonoran Desert, the desert floor has a tiny, lush green, fuzz over the usually brown, dry and sandy backdrop. The desert flowers are beginning to show themselves and are hinting of a magnificent season for desert blooms.

I have been fascinated by the desert in bloom since we first visited Bob's brother, Bill, who lived in Casa Grande for many years before his death. We were there in late March and saw the remnants of the desert flowers in a normal year. Several years later we visited in early April and went to Sabino Canyon in Tucson and had another taste of desert flora and fauna. You may remember in 2005 when Death Valley blossomed due to heavy and unusual winter rains and mother nature painted the desert in rainbow hues that had not been seen for over fifty years. I wanted to visit Death Valley so badly that year, but just could not accomodate the trip in our schedule.

The desert flowers above are, descending, Wild Blue Heliotrope, Brittlebrush, and far off Arizona Gold Poppies bloom on the slope

Well, it looks like 2008 is going to be another year for the history books of the desert in bloom and I am so excited that we may be able to see much of it. Today there were many flowers blooming along the desert road and in the canyons .................BrittleBrush, Arizona Gold Poppies were abundant today and we even spotted some Wild Blue Heliotrope and one Arizona Blue Lupine!! Word is that the desert will bloom early and more abundantly than it has in many years. Hopefully we can make a trip into the California deserts to view the blooms before we head back east!

Above: An Arizona Lupine blossom opens tentatively in the desert

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