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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hackberry Spring hike

We overnighted at Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains a few weeks ago, and did a nice hike out to Hackberry Spring. It's a moderate hike with little to no people, and spectacular views.
The spring is located at the base of this cliff in the shade of large mesquite trees. The spring itself is a mostly algae-filled basin in the rock with a metal pipe coming out. The water brought in some interesting wildlife, including several thirsty honeybees and some unusual red moss. It is said to be one of the few reliable water sources in this area of the desert. I once hiked out here in 100-degree heat in mid-August and was suprised to find water here even at that time of year.



Amanda discovered these tiny toads all around the spring. I had to pick one up as they were incredibly cool! (and also to show how amazingly small they were). I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure the red warts all over their backs meant they were toxic, so I was careful of course to not lick my hands, and washed up afterward. There were probably 20 or so of these little guys hopping around within 3 square feet!





We also found this brightly colored velvet ant on the way out. I don't anything about velvet ants and was surprised by what I found on Wikipedia. Turns out that they are actually wingless wasps, and they pack quite a punch. I'm glad I didn't pick this one up, thought I didn't really want to anyway: "They are known for their extremely painful sting, the venom of which was jokingly stated to be powerful enough to kill a cow, hence the nickname "cow killers." Additionally, it has been stated cows occasionally would be stung while rolling in the sands of Florida. The resulting sting would fester, allowing the screw-worm fly to enter the wound. This would result in the death of the cow."
Once again a great hike off the beaten path, with many cool sights along the way.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

Wow. Great pictures.

I love Hackberry Springs hike.