So, in an earlier post I think I said that saguaros are old enough to start sprouting limbs after about 35 years, but I just heard from a National Park tour that it could take them up to 65 years. How fast they grow and mature depends on the rainfall in the area.
We’ve walked through plains with limbless saguaros that look like telephone poles. They’re the adolescents, I assume. The babies are growing under the shade of Palo Verde trees and ocotillo; when they get to the telephone-pole stage, their roots are big enough to steal all the ground water from their shelter trees, so those trees die. Many adult saguaros stand surrounded by the lifeless branches of their former shelter trees.
So, you know the standard shape from the Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons. You do see those. But you also see wobbly ones, many-limbed ones, and ones with itty bitty baby limbs sprouting like buds.
Tracy calls the ones with drooping limbs, Elephant Saguaros. The one with the protuberance is a Cristate; there are at least two others in the park with symmetrical growths like this that we totally missed somehow while gazing at everything else.
The last is my favorite cactus: Mike Gordon, the bass player for the band, Phish. That’s his nickname because he stands still in meditation while playing, with one arm up and one down, making that cactus music. (I grabbed this photo from his Instagram feed.)
Twin Peaks Sunrise
Each morning I take Banjo on the trail from the campground (it’s called Twin Peaks) to the visitor’s center. I watch the sunrise while Banjo watches for rabbits and smells for desert rats and coyotes.
Tomorrow we go into the town of Ajo to buy groceries and gear up for our next leg; we’ll scout out that camping spot along a BLM road on the way. I feel nostalgic about this place and we haven’t even left yet. We have a ”no return visits” policy while we still have so much to see on the road, but this place, as well as Death Valley, both deserve more time.