The jet lag caused by 8 hours time difference with the UK meant that we woke up bright and early, even though we had enjoyed some 9 hours of sleep – well, I had, Cliff and Angie have more trouble catching a good night’s sleep.
Eunice and her dog, Bosco, had decided to join us for the drive to the Grand Canyon today. Originally they would have been along for the full three weeks, but an injury to Bosco’s leg a few weeks earlier had caused a change of mind. She used to be indecisive, but know she is not so sure.
Angie had picked up her own injury, a pinched nerve in her shoulder caused her to be on maximum pain killers in the hope that things would improve. She decided to ride shot-gun with Eunice, as her navigator, even though neither had been here before – thanks go to SatNav.
First stop of this trip was at the Sunset Point Rest Area (around 11 a.m.) (S2488) where our first cacti of the trip were photographed: Echinocereus engelmannii (in flower), E. triglochidiatus (in flower) and Cylindropuntia bigelovii (Teddy Bear Cholla) and where signs reminded us to be aware that poisonous snakes and insects inhabit the area.
As we approached Flagstaff and had climbed to a higher altitude, we were now surrounded by an impressive landscape still partially covered in snow. Californian Bosco has never seen snow before and enjoyed a walk around while we took pictures of the scenery – S2489. No cacti photographed here.
S2490 was another ‘no cacti’ stop for some pictures of ancient planes at an airline museum near the Grand Canyon.
We took a track to the west, onto land managed by the USDA: the Kaibab National Forest and I recorded S2491 (shots along the track – no cacti) S2492 (Opuntia sp, Cylindropuntia sp, and some Mule Deer (?)) before we hit our first target at S2493. The theme for this trip is photographing Pediocactus in as many locations as we can find and access – some grow on Native American reservations where access can be an issue. The name for this trip is therefore a Pediocactus-athon, or Pediothon for short.
Pediocactus (Greek: πεδίον (pedion) means “plain”, “flat”, “field”) is a genus of cacti. The genus comprises between 6 and 11 species, depending upon the authority. Species of this genus are referred to as hedgehog cacti, though that name is also applied to plants from the genera Echinocereus and Echinopsis.
S2493 gave us Echinocereus fendleri was here, as well as Cylindropuntia sp., Opuntia sp., and Coryphantha vivipara ssp kaibabensis (?). Then, after 37 minutes of searching, it was Bosco who pulled Eunice to a place where Cliff and I had already walked over and there it was, our first Pedio of the trip. As always, onced our eyes had picked up the first plant, others soon followed.the first taxon in the genus: Pediocactus peeblesianus ssp fickeiseniorum ‘menzeli’, a form named for our friend Juergen Menzel, who will be pleased to know that ‘his’ plant survives and seems to be in good health. No flowers or fruits here. Were we too early or too late? Eventually we found one or two plants in bud – so too early this time.
After we left this location we discovered a feature of my SatNav whereby it is unable to suggest making a U-turn on a single track, instead sending us on a wild goose chase of some 40 miles in a figure of 8 to return to where we had started. Oh well, these things are supposed to be tools after all, not to be followed blindly.
The bonus was that we came across a small herd of semi wild horses who approached us just in case we had brought food.
It was dark by the time that we arrived at the Best Western in Tusayan and gratefully found our beds.
Tomorrow we drive to Marble Canyon in search for our next Pedio.