• Mark L. Johnson

Fields Of Dreams


Alamo Springs Trail (9/11/22)

 

I was curious how this year's summer monsoon rains impacted the Alamo Springs Trail area and found fields of grass, saguaros and wildflowers.

 

Fields of Grass


The beginning (uphill) portion of the Alamo Springs Trail had some grass but the portion from the geology bench to the bird bench and up to the top of the ridge (see map) had dense grass. However, this year the grass is not soft feather pappusgrass like last year but a mix of desert lovegrass and larger grama grasses (black, blue & ruthrock). Why did the soft feather pappusgrass disappear? See comparative photos taken at approximately same location one year apart.





Soft feathered pappusgrass-Summer 2021 (left) vs lovegrass & grama grasses-Summer 2022 (right)



The washes are now covered with low growing grasses like grama needle and sideoats grama. See photos of Wild Burro Canyon wash.



Wild Burro Canyon Wash (left to right) (1) from Alamo Springs Trail (note yellow grasses), (2) Wild Burro Trail and (3) low growing wash area grasses.


Fields Of Saguaros


The saguaros along the Alamo Springs Trail are in fairly good shape, especially the younger saguaros without arms. However, I did run into two older saguaros that suffered the same fate as Strong-arm. These saguaros appeared to have the same infection with resulting black rot. In fact, when a saguaro goes down with this condition, the decomposing saguaro cortex gives off a very distinct odor (as did Strong-arm). These saguaros are located about 4 miles east of Strong-arm in very protective environment. Therefore, it seems this disease can happen anywhere. Need to get the scientists to study this issue with older saguaros. See photos below.




Fields of Wildflowers


Hard to believe but there was a scattering of wildflowers seen on this hike. See photos below. From left to right and down, (1) desert thorn-apple, (2) canyon morning glory, (3) transpeco morning glory, (4) whitestem paperflower and (5) maybe trailing four o'clock.