Our camp for the first night was East Boulder Canyon, between Black Top Mesa and Palamino mountain. On the topographic map, below. the bright orange line is Dutchman Trail. We are at the lower center, at the foot of the “Z” in trail, a switchback over Black Top Mesa pass we’ll traverse the next day.
Our evening was a quiet one of camp chores, an enjoyable meal with homemade beef jerky, coffee and plenty of water to rehydrate. The horses chomped on grain from feed bags. They packed in the grain as grazing is not allowed in the wilderness. I gave each a treat of carrot and apple.
I was up well before dawn to capture the morning constellations over Weavers Needle: from the left, I believe I recognize Lyra with Vega accompanied by Epsilon Lyra, next the keystone of Hercules. The brightest object is Venus.
Taking a break from morning water gathering in East Boulder Canyon: saguaro cactuses reflected in a still pool, looking up to the northwest you can just about see the Peralta trail where it crosses a Palamino Mountain ridge. West/Northwest the Peralta trail crosses behind the same ridge.
A few minutes after photographing the Stressed Mesquite I looked across the creek to the slope of volcanic rock fallen from the cliff of Black Top Mesa where clumps of dark yellow mark clusters of flowering Mexican Poppies.
Plentiful winter rains trigged a profusion of Mexican Poppies throughout the Superstition Wilderness. Here is a photograph captured after our expedition.
Look carefully for a scattering of color, like gold dust, at the foot of the volcanic cliffs. That is spring blooms of Mexican Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica). This gold wonder is plentiful from the month of late February through April, varying with the rains.
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East Boulder Creek was flowing, in this season, a few feet away. Still, this mesquite is stressed, with a loss of over half of its bark. The ever-present Prickly Pear is in the middle distance. I prefer the image with the distant Weavers Needle, a neck of eroded volcanic rock, is brightened by the setting sun. To the left, the light-colored rock of Black Top Mesa is also of volcanic origin.
I am here on the Dutchman Trail between Black Top Mesa and Palamino Mountain, Superstition Wilderness, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.
Here is a gallery of post images, making comparison easier. All were taken with a handheld Sony F828. Walking without a pack make it possible for me to wear the camera.
The black basalt of the mesa, for which it is named, is just visible above the lighter colored alternating layers of ash and tuff all remnants of volcanic eruptions 15 to 29 million years ago. We are on the Dutchman trail with the slopes of Palamino Mountain on the right. Ahead, other members of the expedition are just visible.
In this view the late afternoon shadow of Palamino Mountain reveals the defile to which we are headed. Poles of young Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantean), poke from the black basalt capping Black Top Mesa. Foreground left is Stag Horn Cholla (Cylindropuntia), on the right is Prickly Pear (Optuna).
Look carefully for a scattering of color, like gold dust, at the foot of the volcanic cliffs. That is spring blooms of Mexican Poppy (Eschscholtzia californica).
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