In Saguaro National Park the namesake cactus stand as tall as trees. And the teddy bear cholla seem to purposely shoot balls of spines in our path, hoping we step on them, thereby transporting baby cactus to new desert homes.
The eight of us were staying for a week at Grass Camp. The creek flowed with water that year, after a series of rains, and even some snow.
When we first arrived in camp, Nick Huck ventured back into the tiny canyon, a series of deep pools and thin trickles over smooth sandstone. In one of the larger pools he took a picture of a turtle basking in the sun. In any other place a turtle sighting would not be big news, but in Southern Arizona, it was. That turtle was living along a temporary, seasonal creek that only carried water on the wettest of years, and even then only for a few weeks at a time. By the time I walked up there, the turtle was gone. Maybe it'd dug down under the mud at the bottom of the pool, where it must live through the dry summers.