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March 10: Mesa, AZ - Day three

This report of the day's activities from Glen: "Nyssa and I hiked up Wind Cave Trail, the most popular trail at Usery Mountain Regional Park. The trail started out flat amidst the desert scrub, before beginning its slope up toward Pass Mountain.

A screen shot of Glen's Garmin track shows how zig-zaggy the Wind Cave Trail is.


After about 20 minutes of hiking, we heard a rattling sound and realized we had walked right past a large western diamond-backed rattlesnake. After taking a few photos, we stood by to alert other hikers, since the snake was right on the edge of the trail. After a few hikers passed by cautiously - and one hiker running for her life - the snake continued on across the trail and into the rocks.

According to our friend, Terry, if the ring on the snake closest to the rattle is black, the snake is a western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox).


"We continued our hike, with the trail getting progressively steeper. The trail became quite a scramble, with large boulders and many switchbacks. Over the last half mile, the elevation gain was a little over 800 feet.


"The trail wound up to the base of the cliff area, where there were immense expanses of blooming poppies. The flowers were quite spectacular. The steep, almost vertical cliffs are comprised of tuff (a type of volcanic rock).

The California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) were the star of the show on the hike.


"The cave for which the trail is named is located in a layer of more eroded rock above the steep cliffs. This area provided a cool, shady place in which to recover from the sunny, hot, strenuous hike up. Nyssa cooled off under a rock outcropping.


"The hike back down was much easier and more pleasant, taking about a third of the time of the ascent. No more snakes were to be seen, though we were very alert and on the look-out. Seeing the poppies made the strenuous hike worthwhile."

Tonight, after a meal including some of this summer's homemade pasta sauce, we walked around the campground, watching the sunset. The alpenglow on the west facing Pass Mountain was particularly rosy, and the cloud formations to the west made for an excellent sunset.

Good night from our last night in Mesa, AZ.


15 commentaires


Wynne Graves-Moody
Wynne Graves-Moody
12 mars 2023

Yes I agree Mother Nature is the most extraordinary artist. Your photos are beautiful! What an adventure (: Glen I do love the red foot wear!

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A perfect afternoon.

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mary.westervelt
mary.westervelt
11 mars 2023

Lovely photos!

I had to look up the origin of the name 'Usery' for the Park and mountain. The Maricopa County Parks website says King Us(s)ery was a cattleman in the 1870s. When he failed at running cattle he took to crime and spent a couple of periods in jail. But I guess he made an impression on whoever named this spectacular but challenging area after him!

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Tribal Scribal
Tribal Scribal
11 mars 2023

That's some truly amazing photos there. While a field of blooming desert poppies is very impressive, what appears to be a Rattler poised for a strike is not only a strong second but begs the question: "How far can a western diamond-backed rattlesnake strike reach? " 😮

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En réponse à

In general, it uses one third to one half of its body length In a strike. If you figure the average diamondback is 4’, then you should stay at least 2’ away.

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Such a tidy and intricate design.

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