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Saturday march 14, 2010 was a  gorgeous day out and I needed to get out of the house. The last couple of weekends we have had rain here in the valley of the sun and I was looking forward to a nice clear day. While I would have liked to headed over to Morenci or up to Jerome I didn't have enough time for that. Instead I decided to wander over to the Superstitions and spend a few hours out hiking and hopefully seeing some signs of the wildflower season. I brought along my youngest daughter who has been my hiking buddy on several of my grade exploration here in AZ. She did real well and we put in about 6 miles with a couple of stream crossings. On to the hike.

The hike started from the First Water trail head  which can be reached off of 88 (Apache Trail) which heads NE from Apache Junction. We pass by the entrance to Lost Dutchman State Park  and find the dirt road that takes off to the right (well marked as First Water TH). In past years there has been an admission fee but that is no longer the case. We pass by the overflow parking hoping  that there will still be a spot by the TH. It is fairly early and a couple of spots are still available. There was even a ranger on this day at the TH.

The valley has had a pretty good winter this year with our rainfall so far exceeding the rain total for all of last year. This meant that we would probably encounter some runoff on this hike. The following is the major stream crossing on this hike. This would be the first opportunity for my hiking buddy to get wet and that she did but no worries it was a nice day out.




As we wring out one of my hiking buddies socks and her jacket sleeve we spot this little friend. My daughter loves lady bugs so she spent some time watching and picking it up with a twig.



The landscape is pretty green this time of the year with all of the rain and runoff but no blankets of poppies yet. Non the less it is a great time of the year for hiking in the Superstitions.



A little further down the trail we find what will turn out to be our biggest patch of poppies on this hike. In years past I have seen them much more abundant in this area but it is still early in the season. Maybe in a week or two this area will come alive. While stopped here we could hear a woodpecker at work most likely in the near by saguaro. We never did see him but he made it clear that he knew we were there.



These golden poppies are an amazing site when the desert floor is littered with them. Today we just find a few scattered about.



We weren't the only ones out enjoying the wild flower. A hummingbird crosses out path as it zooms from flower to flower.



Towards the end of our hike we stumble upon this guy. He was down by a catch basin playing in the water but moved up into the tree as we approached. I didn't have my mega zoom with me so this is about the best I could do with my general purpose lens at 70mm. I can't say that I have ever seen a cardinal in the wild here in AZ so this was a nice find on the trip. Saguaros just don't make me think of cardinals but rather the majestic soaring birds that drift around on the thermal currents.



As we approach our turn around point for the day, the saguaro, prickly pear and cholla become much more abundant. Boulder Canyon is up ahead as evident by the rocky cliff in the distance. I would have liked to have gone on to Boulder Canyon but our time limit is getting near. I also didn't want to wear out my hiking companion too much.



My only railroad related sighting of the day was this old tie used as a post. No spikes but it still had a couple of wood pegs in some of the holes.