February 13-19, 2017
Seems I just can’t get enough of the peace and quiet beauty of the desert so I returned to Darby Well Road after two days in Ajo at Belly Acres RV Park.
My previous camp site was taken so I wandered a bit looking for someplace nice with a signal. It’s all nice but some easier to access parking is rather close to the dusty dirt road. As it was late afternoon I settled with a place figuring on finding a better location, and signal, the next day.
Lucky me, my previous site was vacant so I went back there again. I spent most of the day sitting in the quiet warm sunshine reading interspersed with soaking in the desert surroundings. Late afternoon brought huge puffy clouds to the south, golden glow, and yet another colorful sunset.
The next day I’d be meeting up with a friend who used to work at the North Rim and is now a backcountry ranger at Aravipa. She drove down to visit some Utah friends who were also boondocking along Darby Well Road.
Wednesday we all met up and it turns out Bill and Emily know my friend Bill, and a few other mutual friends. So fun. We took a little walk into the desert west of the road with Bill leading us to an absolutely gorgeous crested organ pipe cactus. The whole hike was an easy one mile round trip but you do have to crawl under a barbed wire fence onto the mine land for a short way. Afterwards we hung out in their camp for a while chatting away, no pics of course, then Bill lead me cross country the short way to my camp. Since then they’ve found another crested organ pipe cactus in the area.
Thursday I found my way back to the crested with a little variation of the path. There’s a closed two track off Darby Well Road heading towards the mine’s fence and some cross country where I went one wash too far but eventually saw where I’d go under the fence marked with a piece of yellow plastic to mark the spot.
Being by myself I took WAY more photos of the crested organ pipe cactus and so much more. Fruit on a barrel cactus with a fibonacci pattern, dusty pink fairy dusters, many crazy-armed saguaros, a few ocotillo blooms, small pincushion cactus, and never ending creosote bush.
I also wandered down my road following tire tracks to a pretty big dip in one of the larger washes. Good reminder with rain probable to park on high ground and not at a dead end beyond a wash. Believe it or not occasionally a RVer will actually park in a wash and if it does rain could be stuck or swept away. It happens in the desert to the unwary or newbies.
Unfortunately there is a bit of human litter scattered about like broken glass, rusty cans, bed springs and car pieces. A group has developed an area along the wash with tables and a BBQ pit. It seems a nearby saguaro suffers the human recreation of riddling things with bullets. Maybe those holes offer future nesting sights for the birds like the Gila woodpecker, cactus wren, and elf owl.
Though I heard bird song I’m rarely quick enough to see let alone photograph many birds. Except for the distinctive silhouette of the phainopepla in the distance. It perpetuates its food source by eating the mistletoe berries then defecating the seeds which produce more mistletoe.
Thankfully I enjoyed a few days of sunshine before the wind blew, and blew, and blew. Friday saw no rain but heavy clouds seemed to fly over the landscape. Nature’s song of the day included wind rattling the creosote and palo verdes. Even the saguaros swayed a little. I understand it typically takes 60-100mph winds to knock them over. Bill showed me a down saguaro just down my road that fell several years ago when they were camped nearby. They didn’t hear it but noticed it missing. I noticed the camper rock-n-rolling as gusts reached up to 44mph.
Woke up Saturday to gray skies and the wind blew on and off as the rains came. At first a soft female rain, just what the desert needs to soak into the hard baked soil instead of just running off into washes causing possible floods. The intensity of rain increased late in the day and through most of the night. I kept waking up and wondering if I’d float away.
But come Sunday morning under still gray skies I saw no water at all in the wash and the ground was almost dry already. The only standing water was puddles in the roads. So with less chance of rain I packed it up and saw the sun trying to break through as I drove to Ajo for breakfast and supplies before heading back into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument for some hiking Monday with Cynthia.
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