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Hiking is very popular here in the Desert Southwest.  I enjoy hiking with my husband and family during the cooler months of the year.

Last year, my husband and drove to the Superstition Mountains, which is located just outside of the Phoenix metro area.  

The Superstition Mountains are a very popular destination among hikers.
Some are hoping to perhaps find the legendary gold of the Lost Dutchman’s Mine.  The legend is that a German immigrant, returning from the California gold rush, decided to search for gold in these mountains.
The story says that he came to Phoenix in the 1870’s with bags of gold and bragged that he had found  a huge amount of gold in the mountains, worth millions of dollars.  He would not reveal the exact location of his gold mine, but he implied that it was located in the Superstition Mountains.
He died in the 1880’s and some say that he revealed the location of the mine to the woman who was caring for him as he lay dying.  Since his death, thousands of people have searched for his legendary mine, but it has never been found.
People still search for the mine to this day.  So, why has no one found it?  
Well, one reason may be that the Superstition Mountains occupy an area of over 159,000 acres, with rugged terrain.  Many people become lost in the wilderness.
Another possible reason is that the mine maybe never existed in the first place.
The reason that we visited the Superstition Mountains was purely selfish on my part……
And no, I wasn’t searching for gold.

I wanted to enjoy a day of hiking in the beautiful outdoors with my husband and without my kids.

Isn’t that awfully selfish?

I encourage those of you who live close enough to visit these beautiful mountains.  There are many different hiking trails that will take you to different areas of the Superstition Mountain wilderness.
You will enjoy your visit to this beautiful place, even if you do not ‘discover’ the Lost Dutchman’s Mine 😉

You can find more information about the Superstition Mountains here.



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I am so appreciative for those of you who take a couple of minutes to visit my Birds & Blooms blog.  

Here is my latest post…

Bright, Sunny Flowers All Year

A few months ago, my husband and I went hiking in the Superstition Mountains.  These mountains lie just east of the Phoenix metro area and are absolutely beautiful.  We saw many wonders as we hiked…..beautiful rock formations, stately saguaro cactus, springs of water coming up through rock, wildflowers, hummingbirds and butterflies.


 I had posted details of our trip in an earlier post, which you can read here if you like.  However, while I was busy taking pictures and taking in all of the beauty around me, my attention was drawn to a tiny plant the could easily be overlooked.



  My attention was captured at the lichen covered rocks that were all around.  I began to wonder how this little plant was able to survive on a rock – a very inhospitable place for a plant, I must say.  I have some small areas of lichen growing on the boulders in my garden as well.

To be honest, I have never given much thought to lichen before.  But, any plant that can grow and thrive on bare rock deserves a second look.


I did a little research about lichen….I do think I studied lichen back in college, but I honestly can’t remember much – I think I probably had to learn about them for a test and then promptly forgot what I had learned 😉  To be honest, I like most plants, but lichen seemed rather boring to me at the time, especially when I was learning about trees, grass, shrubs and perennials.


You know the phrase, “Don’t let appearances fool you?”  Well, this unassuming plant(s) had some surprises for me and I will share some of them with you.

Okay, fact #1 – lichen are actually made up of two different organisms, fungi and algae (and sometimes cyanobacteria).  Each of the organisms help the other.  Since the fungi cannot create their own food, they need the algae to photosynthesize and provide food.  In turn, the fungi provide protection for the algae allowing them to exist in difficult areas.


Fact #2 – they can grow in very inhospitable places such as rock, sand and arctic tundra.  *It seems to me like they find the most difficult place to grow and then move in 🙂


Fact #3 – Lichen are a food source for deer, squirrels and birds, especially in the winter when food is scarce.  You can also see bits of lichen used to make bird’s nests.

Fact #4 – Tea made from lichen has been used for medicinal purposes and as well as dyes.  In fact, lichen have been used in over 500 different biochemical compounds. 


One last interesting note that I found about the history of lichen.  Early in her career, the famous children’s author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter, worked as a scientific illustrator.  Through her work drawing lichen, she came to believe the theory that lichen was not just one plant, but two organisms co-existing together.

She was an ardent observer of the natural world and also drew pictures of animals, including rabbits.  Beatrix Potter then wrote a little story to go along with one of her illustrations and the rest they say, is history.  She went on to publish many children stories, including the famous “Peter Rabbit”.


And so what I have learned is that there are surprises, even in the smallest plants.  I mean who would have connected the dots between lichen and Beatrix Potter?


I hope you all have a wonderful week!  I am on my way to my mother’s house (Double S Farms) to make applesauce from the apples from their tree.  I will post about that later this week.

Yesterday, my husband I dropped off the kids at school and then went on a hike around the beautiful Superstition Mountains, located just outside of the greater Phoenix metro area.

You could see saguaro cacti growing up out of the rocky mountainsides.
Did you know that saguaro cacti favor the south side of mountains?  Look carefully and you will seen a huge difference when comparing with the amount of saguaro on the north sides of mountains.  The reason for this is that it is warmer on the south side of mountains and they receive more sunlight which the saguaro favor.
 
 
Green grass surrounds the remains of a Mesquite tree.  The floor of the desert rapidly turns green as grass grows in response to the rain.
 
The rushing water from the creek could be heard everywhere we walked.  We had to cross over it 3 different times.  Unfortunately, I lost my balance and stepped into the water and came out with a wet sock and hiking boot ;^)
 

The remains of an old Saguaro cactus.
 
Who says that the desert is brown and ugly?  We had a wonderful day of hiking and the weather was just beautiful.  
Dawn….
My husband is an amateur photographer and captured this beautiful photo of the Superstition Mountains, which are located just east of Phoenix, Arizona.  The sun is just coming up…..

Where do you go to view the sunrise or sunset?