Climbing up Piestewa Peak became one of my most favourite things to do during the last couple of months. However, the area around the peak is also very interesting and fascinating and I love to hike the many trails. However, not everything around Piestewa Peak is positive. Highway 51 cuts through the Western part of the Preserve and prevents many animals from crossing. I always was wondering why the engineers did not design a tunnel to leave the desert area intact. By doing some research, I found the answer. There had been major mining going on, mining for the highly toxic Cinnabar, otherwise known as mercury sulphide. The production plant Rico Mercury Property was located where the Highway now goes through and the debris of the production plant was dumped beside Dreamy Draw. Now the hills are covered with Creosote, brittle bush and other desert plants. Hardly anybody knows about the history. The name of the street “Dreamy Draw” goes back to the miners walking back home in an dreamy state caused by the neurotoxins.
East of the Highway starts the area leading up to Piestewa Peak. Many little mountains and valleys surround the Peak and it is always fun to come across new things. Over time, I discovered three caves in different length, probably former copper mines. Walking into these dark caves – even with a headlamp – is always a little adventure.
This is the deepest cave ending with two arms in the far back
A less deep cave, but interesting. On the wall are white marks looking like little stars
Watching the sunset and especially the full moon is a real treat. The scenes are often spectacular!
Sunset over Phoenix
A Palo Verde tree in the evening sun
Full moon looking like a big Cosmic Eye.
During spring after rain, the desert starts to bloom. It is most beautiful!
Yellow, Mexican Poppies and blue Lupines
The earliest plants starting to bloom are the Cacti
Saguaro Cactus not yet blooming. The holes in the cactus serve as homes for owls and other animals.
I love to collect white stones scattered on the surface and create playful patterns of animals and things. Just doing it fills me with joy.
A condor with a ring in his peak
A white blooming tree
My shadow shortly before the climb up the rock wall
Thank you for following me on my magic mountain!