Silly Mountain is the first Mountain I ever climbed. It is a pretty modest mountain of course, but I loved the walk up with the Driedgers a few years back in my first winter in Arizona. I will never forget the experience.
It was not just the flowers that were gorgeous. The desert turned green! Hard to believe. A green desert but that can happen in the Sonoran Desert which gets more rainfall than any other North American desert.
A dead Saguaro and one very much alive
But this year was different. This year the flowers were stunning.
Today the flowers added a luster to the walk. We did not walk up the mountain. We just strolled at the base and took a few photographs.
One of the things that was striking about Silly Mountain is not just the yellow flowers but the base of green. All the rain we had in the autumn last year and then from January to March have produced an abundance of vegetation.
These are not great photos because they were taken directly into the sun but I have tried to capture the crowds that came to look at wildflowers at Lost Dutchman State Park Arizona. I estimated there were about 250 flower lovers.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to see such crowds coming to look at wildflowers.
The people were of all ages. Old Codgers like me to young bright and eager kids. It was spectacular. Wonders never cease.
If you click on the photo and make it bigger I think you will see what the park is usually like. Finally I was far from the Maddening crowd after I lost them. I took a wrong turn. How can you lose 250 people?
When I was a young lad going to University, it was the time of hippies and flower children. I always considered myself as on the fringes of this group. The term we liked to refer to ourselves was “freaks.” But I always liked the expression “flower children.” It called to mind these crazy kids at the Kent State University Vietnam War Protest, and other places, who stood in front of the national guard members that were pointing their rifles at them and they smiled at the guards and placed flowers in the barrels of the gun. How crazy is that? Much to my surprise I actually became a flower child of sorts many years later when as an adult of sorts I became interested in wildflowers. I remember my mother was amazed. How could this happen? Well, my answer to her was, “How could it not happen?” What is there not to like about wildflowers?
It was a very windy day, so I gave up on trying to freeze images of flowering blowing in the breeze.
One afternoon this winter in Arizona Christiane and I went for a jaunt on Red Mountain Road and Saguaro Lake and then headed south to complete a loop to Busch Highway and then Usery Pass Road. We saw many wildflowers along the way. But we were really shocked at Usery Pass Road where there was a long line of cars parked beside the road. What was happening we wondered? It was the wildflower children going crazy photographing flowers. My sport has been turned over to the rabble! And there was good reason for that. The flowers were outstanding.
There was a traffic jam of sorts in the countryside where we saw these wild flowers. Everyone, it seemed wanted to see these gems. Who can blame them?
Everyone in Arizona this year, as in many other places in the southern USA, complained a lot about the bad weather. I admit it—I was one of them. Everyone complained. Some told me it was the worst winter in 40 years. It was awful. But it was also great!
From the perspective of a wildflower guy—like me—it was fantastic. Conditions were great. I learned from Ranger B an interpreter at the Maricopa Parks where we often attended his talks, that the ideal conditions for wildflower growth were a wet autumn followed by consistent occasional rain from January to March. This is exactly what happened this past year. He said it happened about once every 11 years. Well it happened this year. Life is good.
I had been hoping to experience one of those years ever since I heard about it. Ranger B says it was fantastic to see. He was right.
The result of these ideal conditions is called by local “a Super Bloom.” And that was what we experienced this year. Now I say it was the best weather ever in Arizona. Though, I admit, I also complained about it. Some of us are never happy and are never satisfied.
This has been a strange year in the Sonoran Desert, mainly on account of the absence of rain. It was the 4th driest year in about 130 years. Most wild flowers could not manage a bloom at all. Al of the energy of the plants went to survival.
Cactuses usually manage to survive and flower even in a year of severe drought. The Hedgehog below is one of my favourites.
This year however the cactuses bloomed later than normal. Perhaps that was their reaction to drought.
These are called Claret Cup. The blooming cactuses are the glory of the Sonoran desert. unfortunately, this year I just had a chance to capture a few images late in March.
These were not wild. I found them on my neighbour’s yard. Desperate years call for desperate measures. I am afraid it is next year country again.