Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Apache Trail

As we left the ruins at Tonto National Monument, we returned to Gilbert by means of a long and winding road known as the Apache Trail. About a century ago, the US government enlisted members of the Apache tribes to build a supply road through the rugged desert mountains to the construction site of a new hydroelectric dam. The dam and reservoir would eventually bear the name of then-President Theodore Roosevelt, while the road would be named for the Apache.

The road has been improved somewhat in the last hundred years, but it still remains a dusty, 26-mile stretch of unpaved, but incredibly scenic highway.

Roosevelt Dam.

We encountered this western diamondback sunning himself on the highway.

The cacti were in bloom all around us. We must have stopped at least a half dozen times to photograph the plants and scenery.

An agave plant stands at the edge of a steep canyon. This photograph does not adequately show the extreme contrasts of the landscape. However, part of the Apache Trail is visible in the background.

Another reservoir formed by the dams along the Salt River.

At one point we stopped the car for me to get a picture of the Superstition Mountains. The sun was setting and casting a warm, reddish glow over the desert. I climbed a small hill away from the highway and paused. This saguaro captivated me by the way it towered over the desert and by the way the wind seemed to hiss as it passed through the cactus needles. I didn't want to leave. For a moment it was like all the mental chatter ceased as I felt myself merging into the beauty and mystery of that land.

The Superstition Mountains at sunset.

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