I woke up at Oak Hollow with the intention of heading into town for breakfast. I have made every meal on this trip and was ready to have someone serve me my favorite meal. I found a small cafe in Globe, AZ, the kind of place that locals call the staff by name and holler for the next cup of joe to the way too kind waitress…the one who has clearly been in the industry for at least my entire life. I felt at home there, where I ordered a traditional 2 egg breakfast with bacon.

Everything hit the spot, and I especially appreciated the regularity of which my waitress came around with the pot of coffee. I used the Internet to surmise weather and flash flood warnings for my chosen routes over the next few days. Everything looked great…except I still had a great pain in my pinky finger frim the cholla from 2 nights before. I looked up whether I should be concerned and found crazy stories of people falling I to entire patches and having their bodies covered with the barbed spines. Ouch!

I basically surmised that the barb would work itself out within a year. I couldn’t do much else about it…even though my pinky was swollen, it at least did not appear infected in any way.

I also learned some cool facts about the Saguaro Cactus. These beautiful plants don’t even begin to grow arms until they are 75 years old and they can live about 200 years. They also form what is called a “boot,” which is a way of healing itself when the outer surface is broken open (usually by birds building nests). The boot is a sort of sap that coats the exposed internal area with a waterproof layer which helps the cactus avoid water loss…and these boots were used by native people as a way to carry and store water. The culture of he Southwest is incredibly interesting and resilient!

I then set out in the late morning to hike a portion of the Lost Dutchman Trail. The lost Dutchman is said to have hidden a wealth of gold in these mountains, a fortune already sought by many and none have succeeded. There is a heck of a lot of lore and not a lotta tangible evidence that it even exists. Either way, it gave a great feeling if excitement to the day.

The hike was picture perfect on many levels; Saguaro everywhere, spires rising around every corner, canyons, springs, even my very first wild scorpion encounter! It was one of the sand colored numbers that they warn you about, so I gave it space but was pretty careful as I made my way past…but particularly intrigued by how small, camouflaged and dangerous it could be. No pictures though. Better to have safety than proof!

The day was really great and I finished with enough time to work myself towards the next trailhead to make camp. I was headed to a valley with cave dwellings that one can only see on an overnight backpacking trip…Super cool! I was excited to get out there and experience it for myself.

The road led farther out into nowhere but offered some beautiful scenery. I was a bit disappointed to find some Saguaros used as target practice, but there isn’t anything I can really do about it. Not around here.

I eventually came to a point in the road that I couldn’t get past in my 2WD car, so I had to scrap my mission. The guidebook is a bit old and could probably use some updates to reflect these sorts of changes. It was a long dirt road to travel, only to be turned around. I set up camp and researched hikes that I knew would be easier to get to.

I spent the next two days making up longer hikes from trailheads I could get to, connecting shorter trails and exploring a little. The terrain here is certainly harsh, certainly rugged and certainly unforgiving. I learned a lot of things about the difference between Canyon Country and the Sonoran Desert…2 completely different niches to the southwest. I was humbled and amazed, intrigued and awestruck. I can’t wait to come back with a bit more research, the proper vehicle and a friend. There is much left to see in the Superstitions and I barely scratched the surface.

I saw a Gila Monster!!! What a rare and special treat that was!