Caves, Pinecones, and Prickly Pear

With all the snow atop Wheeler Peak, we focused on exploring the lower altitudes, and struck out for the Pole Canyon hike close to the Grey Cliffs group campground. We missed the turn (so many winding gravel roads!) and ended up looping around the Baker Creek Campground until a ranger passing by gave us told us what to look for so we’d know where to turn.

But here’s the bonus in getting lost: she also told us about some petroglyphs in a cave on the way to the hike. “We don’t tell everyone about them because we don’t want them vandalized, and we don’t want people in the caves, but….” She smiled, not wanting to say what she was thinking, which probably was something like, “but you look like decent middle-aged folks, so I’ll tell you.”
We followed her directions and did some hunting around…

…and eventually found the petroglyphs:

All this excitement and we hadn’t even started the hike! And of course we were thrilled to find just one other vehicle at the trailhead, and that happened to be a ranger’s truck. Yes, this is our kind of place!

The trail wound through evergreens…

…and alongside a small brook, which we also crossed at various points.

Spring wildflowers were everywhere:

And this Audubon’s Warbler was all over the insects and berries in this patch of woods:

But the thing that struck us as particularly unique was seeing prickly pear cactus growing in the woods, alongside the cones dropped by nearby pine and fir trees.

As Yogi Berra once said (so they say), “You can see a lot just by looking.”

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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