Saguaros and Signs on the Hieroglyphics Trail in Superstition Mountains, Arizona.

We escaped the bitter cold at the end of January, and drove from Kansas to Albuquerque to Scottsdale – a part of Phoenix, Arizona. Don and Julie, our best friends, drove from Idaho Falls in Idaho to Scottsdale. We all snow-birded in an AirBnb rental.

From left, Don, Julie, Mary Ann, and Kim with Superstition mountains behind.

The Superstitions are one of my favorite places to hike, at least in the winter. The days of January – early February were mostly clear and sunny with max temperatures 65F – 75F.

But in the summer the Sonoran desert forces Phoenix to 105F on many days. I flew in there once when it was 114F, and the hotel manager said the locals didn’t worry about the temperature until it got above 105F!

In our first hike we drove to a small town called Gold Canyon and quickly found the trailhead. I had read about this hike over 10 years ago, but then it was only a jackrabbit trail, partly on private land. Now it had a paved road to the trailhead and there were 30-40 cars in the parking lot!

Kim is rearing to go, as always.

Phoenix got a lot of rain in January when the “atmospheric rivers” dropped all that moisture over California. The desert looked as green as I’ve ever seen it, and the views were glorious.

The saguaro cacti were thick in some places. They only grow 1 inch each year, and the first “branch” starts only after 75 years.The hike was about 2 miles in and 2 miles out along the same moderate trail. At the end was an intriguing surprise – hieroglyphs.


While watching the lady in blue climb like a mountain goat to get to this rock above the pool, I noticed on the panel above her head some of the hieroglyphs.

I was familiar with the term petroglyphs attributed to native “Chacoan” tribes who lived in New Mexico between 700 and 1100 AD. But these glyphs in Arizona were older and dated to about 500 AD.

In the enlarged picture of the blue lady you can see figures carved into other rock panels.

The second surprise was flowing water. There isn’t much permanent water in the Superstition Mountains, just a few springs here and there.

The large pool in the picture above is fed by a small stream that flows down the rock-heavy hillside, in between small waterfalls.

On the way back we discovered several holes that were used to grind corn by the native peoples. Hard to contemplate that these were their kitchen bowls of 1,500 years ago.

Pin-cushion cactus and two teddy-bear chollas.

The variety of cactus plants are mesmerizing. In the next picture are a pin-cushion cactus next to the saguaro. Further back are two examples of teddy-bear cholla (pron. “choya”). All have thorns.

The picture of the Gray Nomad must have been taken near the start of the hike – I look too fresh for it to be at the end of the hike.

Hiking for me is “living in the present”. I have time to peer closely at a flower or admire a distant view. To see an image of a face in a group of rocks at the top of a mountain or to listen to a bubbling waterfall. I can chat with a companion or hum a tune to myself.

I do thank God for the energy and ability to complete the trail.

Grateful thanks to Julie and Mary Ann who made a sacrifice to stay behind at the car park which allowed Don and Kim and I to take the Hieroglyph hike.
BLOG TOPICS: I write in-depth blogs about a mix of topics: Health and Hiking, and Science and Energy, and Inspiration and Hope.
The Gray Nomad ….. Wishing you a sense of trail tranquility in the middle of your day, underlain by a heartbeat of joy.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him. [Book of Psalms.]

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1 year ago

Thanks Ian for an enjoyable recap of our hike in the Superstition Mountains. It was great fun to hike there, and to enjoy great company, great scenery, warm weather, and blue skies. It was an unforgettable adventure.

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