Ol’ Ragged Top: Ironwoods in Bloom

Middle May 2009

I picked up Df at the airport Monday night. She told me that she had Tuesday off, too. At the crack of dawn, we decided to drag out of bed and go see the Ironwoods. The Ironwoods have come in bloom in the last week and this week has got to be the time to see them at their best. Ironwoods are about the size of the mesquite and palo verde trees. The palo verde are masses of bright yellow blooms. An ironwood blooms in a mass like that, only the colors are generally lavender. They range from white to deep purple. They are even more impressive than Washington D.C. cherry blossoms. The trees are generally 2-400 years old. It is awe inspiring to behold a 6 to 800 year old tree that has survived. They aren’t particularly massive and are often bulldozed in mass by illegal cavalier developers. There are only two intact Ironwood ecosystems left on the planet.

IMG_3625They sometimes go by the name ‘Ol Smokey because of the gray bark. Looking down on the “forest’ of them in bloom today, I saw that they do look like smoke amongst the other greens. They have dark green foliage during most of the year.

The Ironwood National Monument was created in the last days of Bill Clinton’s regime. Geo. Bush found that he couldn’t destroy the designation, but has left it underfunded. This works out well for now. It has remained mostly with no changes, a remote wilderness with a dirt road through it.

IMG_3600This is federal land and has no nudity prohibitions unless there is a complaint. By the tracks, it appeared obvious that naturism would be nearly impossible during a weekend. {insert3600 } As it was today, eventually, we discovered that we had the entire monument to ourselves. This is a huge swath of national treasure. We could see for miles and the few roads were absolutely empty! We took the car as far as we dared after getting off road onto a jeep trail with Ragged Top rising steeply in front of us.

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Stepping out of the car any sounds were wonderful amongst the overriding silence.

IMG_3565_1There was little sound but for the desert birds. During this blooming, humming of the masses of bees in the trees often takes that away. The breeze may pop up or swirl by. The holes in the saguaro from woodpeckers are shaped at times that sing when the wind goes through just right. We call it saguaro talk. When the bees calm down, the tail drag slithering of the lizards is distinct. I know their size and sometimes type, by their sound. Quiet is good protection from the rattlesnakes whose slither is a different sound than lizards. It’s good to know where they are and if they are attempting to get away, rather than warn of a strike by a rattle. Just the sound of the crunch of the sand beneath my feet is pleasant. Lack of sound gives time for the other senses to be realized and grow.

We took off packing with the objective to go as far as the weather didn’t kill us. Tucson has hit the high 90’s this week for a high. It was 7:00am and 70’s with the temperatures rising rapidly.

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A Light Breeze is Wonderful

A Light Breeze is Wonderful

 

 

 

There is very little shade. Any little breeze would make a big refreshing difference on our nude bodies on the way back. DF began to get a little overheated and decided to rest and get some sun.

 

 

Ol’ Ragged Top kept getting closer Here with a Palo Verde still with a few blooms.

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I continued a while longer up the hill, but found the trail crapped out and turned into a climb.

Onward and Upward

Onward and Upward

 

 

Trail Disappears

Trail Disappears

 

I headed back. I decided I didn’t need to climb hot rocks like big Horn sheep today.

 

 

 

 

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DF took a picture of me acting triumphant on top of a rock a ways up the hill from her. When I got back, she was perched on a rock facing up at Ragged top meditating with a lovely peaceful expression.

 

 

IMG_3648The colors were amazing. The burnt red rock and sand, with the bright green palo verde, saguaro and delicate flowered Ironwood, framed by the incredible turquoise blue of the sky was constantly delighting us.

 

 

 

 

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We arrived back at the car with rest and time for reflection.

 

 

 

 

On the way back home we stopped often, taking over 100 pictures today. We carnuded through the Ironwood and palo verde blooms, which stretch across the valley to within ¾ mile of my home. The iron woods pictured are smaller and more sparse, due to the rocky ground out in the monument. The saguaros are thick out there amongst it. They are not all typically straight with the classic arm arrangement. Here are some pictures of their personalities. The Native American word, Saguaro, is a name for a people.

Never Ask Directions from Two Saguaros

Never Ask Directions from Two Saguaros

Ironwood and Saguaro in Bloom

Ironwood and Saguaro in Bloom

One in Ten Thousand is Crested like This

One in Ten Thousand is Crested like This

Leader of the Band

Leader of the Band

We are given a Bouquet

We are given a Bouquet

Looking Back the Same Color as Ragged Top

Looking Back the Same Color as Ragged Top

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