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Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

It was pleasantly warm here, in the 70s. I have camped here in August when the temperature reached 107 deg F! The humidity remains around 10-15%, making the heat much more bearable. One needs to pay attention to water consumption since it is necessary to consume, in small occasional sips, about a gallon a day when hiking! A tragic situation occured in 2002 when a Park ranger, attempting to protect visitors near the Mexican border, came upon two drug smugglers trying to evade Mexican policemen. He was shot to death by one of the bad guys firing an AK-47 automatic weapon! The VC has been renamed in his memory; the Kris Eggle Visitor's Center. I set up the bigger base camp here and had spectacular sunrises and sunsets! I went down the road a few miles to Lukeville, then across the Mexican boarder by foot looking for a place to eat breakfast. Unfortunately, the nearest town was another 10 miles further south! These photos were taken inside Mexico around 8:00 AM. More photos from Mexico and the boarder area. Up the road is a town I came through yesterday, Why, AZ. Well, why not! I took a long hike out to the abandoned Victoria Mine in the morning. I learned that 90% of full sized Saguro cacti grow up under a host plant like palo verde trees or creosote bushes. That's because the baby plants need shade in the early years. Here are two examples of saguaros growing up with their host plant. Here are other examples. Notice how the cholla and octillo plants appear almost lifeless while waiting for rain. This is a desert survival strategy. I came across a dug up packrat hole. The scratch marks in the second photo indicate that a larger predator had been digging. Maybe a coyote? Here are more photos from the hike; on the left an organ pipe cactus, and, on the right, me and the trail. Even the smaller plants appear lifeless. Don't let them fool you! After 2-1/4 miles I arrived at the abandoned Victoria Mines, which produced gold, silver, copper and lead. Most of the mines have dangerous vertical shafts, so the park has fenced them off. Here is an old miner's house. I'm thinking of moving in. The best sales feature is the fine metal bathtub in the living (and only) room! Here is a later, horizontal surface dig, and, a piece of ore found nearby. It's probably better to follow the sign than try to follow the direction this saguaro is pointing to! At last I see home! Back for a rest then out again in the afternoon for a scenic drive, the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive. There were many wonderful views on the Ajo mountain drive. Here are some good examples of organ pipe cactus. They do not tolerate cold as well as saguaros, so they tend to grow on slopes with southern exposure. That also explains their abundance further south in the Sonoran desert of Mexico. More organ pipe cactus on the left. On the right, about half way through the drive, an arch is visible high up in the Ajo mountains. I found it interesting that a type of algae/fungus? grows under these conditions, but only on a certain type of rock. On the left, from a distance; on the right, closer up. On the left is a flowering plant, a so-called brittlebush, because the stems are easily broken. On the right, a gila woodpecker. For more info from the NPS web site, click here Return to previous page