We spent our afternoon exploring a trail within the Mcdowell Sonoran Preserve which we are very fortunate to have within a ten minute drive from where we live.
The preserve encompasses 14,000 acres of pristine Sonoran desert, and features a new trail head at which there is an amenities building designed and built to have "minimal impact on the fragile desert environment". It is a lovely looking building.
"Green building elements incorporated in the facility include solar power generation, rainwater harvesting, solar water heating, rammed earth walls constructed of native soil from on-site excavation, structural steel made of high recycled content, highly efficient mechanical equipment, native landscaping, and parking lot and path surfaces made of stabilized decomposed granite." Right up my alley!
We wandered around the guided nature trail reading about desert plants and animals.
We learned that pack rats nests are called "middens" and are made of the stuff collected by the rats. The rats then urinate on it all and the urine crystallizes to form cement to hold it all together. This is what one looks like.
I saw loads of desert mistletoe which for some reason fascinates me. Unlike the regular kind of mistletoe, desert mistletoe does not harm it's host tree apparently. Good to know!
After that we wandered around a trail. It was quite busy which wasn't surprising because it was a beautiful day. I still felt like I got a good dose of nature with which to start the new year off perfectly though.
The girls did well. We walked about three miles in total and Emily walked the whole way. I definitely plan to go back again often as I had not realized what an amazing place we have so close to where we live.