Well, I’ve been in Arizona for one year and I’m writing about a hike that I have done more than once, WooHoo! 🙂 One of the first hikes that I did when I arrived in Arizona was at Mingus Mountain and I really enjoyed it. Mingus Mountain is located near Jerome, an old mining town built on Mingus Mountain, with some believed-to-be haunted locations, and nice shops and restaurants. The trail that my cousin Stephen and I hiked is lightly traveled, not too difficult, fairly close to Phoenix , has a very nice drive to the trail, and is a very spectacular place. I saw my first wild pronghorn antelope on the way there.
We decided to hike early in the morning in order to be finished around lunch time because there was a 50% chance of rain and thunderstorms beginning at 11:00am. One thing I’ve learned over my first year in Arizona is to take the forecast seriously. We were lucky this day and the weather was absolutely beautiful, we didn’t see a stormy cloud in the sky while hiking.
Recently, I was doing some fieldwork in northern Minnesota where I had the opportunity to work alongside several professional botanists and biologists. I enjoyed the work in Minnesota because I really had time to search and learn about lots of new plants. I was able to take my time and identify some plants on this hike as well.
One noticeable difference between this year and last year was that last year the Parry’s agave were in full bloom and the two-tailed swallowtails were swarming the spectacular agave flowers (see the first paragraph for a link to Mingus Mountain Part I). Parry’s agave were not in full bloom this year and we saw several dead stalks left from last year. Some of the stalks still looked alive and had a reddish-green color, although the leaves appeared dead. It looked like seed pods located where the flowers were last year were still alive. One difference that I’ve read between agaves and yuccas is that agaves die after flowering. After last years abundant bloom, it’s no wonder the agaves were not in such a bloom this year.
When I visited this place last year I saw my first greater short-horned lizard and this year we saw them again….along with young that were size of nickels or quarters! Some interesting birds that we saw included hermit warbler, black-throated gray warbler, mountain chickadee, as well as what I believe to be a zone-tailed hawk.
This was a great day because the weather was nice, the hike was not too long or difficult, I was able to focus on “botanizing” some plants, Steven joined (and Cousin Patrick was supposed to join as well but couldn’t at the last minute, next time!), and we stopped, ate lunch, and walked around the town of Jerome afterwards. We were back in Phoenix before dinner time on a Saturday night.