Walking Cactus LbNA # 46854
|Placed Date||Apr 26 2009|
|Location||Vulture Mine Road, Wickenburg, AZ|
|Last Update||Jan 16 2012|
|Hike Distance||1-2 mi|
See trail description after clue and disclaimers. This trail has something for every level of hiker. Box is w/in the easy to a little heavy breathing after the climb range.
There are many old ones of the desert, though the really old ones we don't get an opportunity to see very often. The famous walking cactus was captured by post card while it was still standing out toward Vulture Mine near Wickenburg, AZ. The back of the card said: "Although this scarred Patriarch of the Giant Cactus (Sahuaro) family looks rather the worse for wear, he was still full of life when this photograph was taken-note the green buds at stub ends of arms. Two weeks later bouquets of large waxy white flowers would adorn these rusty-looking stumps." Now if you ask about it, people either don't know, or say they don't believe it is still standing.
There is another cactus worth noting near Wickenburg, at the Escapees RV park south of Congress. It is documented as one of the oldest Saguaros still standing in the state. A sign at its base says they believe it to have started growing near 1600. It's beginning to look pretty ratty and is home to many sorts of critters, however it is protected from human predators by the park. In fact, if you came to the park and asked nicely you could probably get to see Methuselah and the rest of the marvelous cactus garden the Escapees have there.
But back to the Walking Cactus. Though it is no longer rooted to the earth there is still a forest of Saguaros out toward the mine. Many look like they've been there a good long time. The further you get from town, the more older ones you see.
To find a memorial to the Walking Cactus drive out Vulture Mine Rd. to the Vulture Peak Trail Head turn off. About 6.4 miles from hwy 60 and about 9.5 miles from hwy 93. It is between mp 20 and 19 Follow the dirt road 1/2 mile through the BLM land to the lower trail head. There is a fancy brick and mortar outhouse there (no running water). If you are a camper, you will note that there are pullouts for camping with a 14 day limit.
To the box and back, counting taking some pictures and planting, took me about 1 hour. There are a couple steep ups and downs, but no boulder hopping. So let's say it is a mile round trip. When someone with a pedometer walks it you can give me the exact distance.
Equipment: walking stick, water, hat, boxing gear.
You can take your dog, but unless they are very cactus savvy a leash is wise. The area is heavily populated with Jumping Cholla. The path was pretty clear of them.
Follow the trail. About 1/10 mile in are some benches. You can get some great sunset shots of the peak there. continue on the trail. It will take you through a wash that has a "barricade" on each side. You'll climb out of the wash, level out, then a slow low grade incline before it then steeply climbs again. When you get to the top of this steep climb and it levels, stop. Look around, especially away from the campers and see a fine exhibit of young to middle aged and aging Saguaros. A regular standing army.
Take a look at the trail formation at this crest. It looks a bit like a W. There is a Cholla near the center point of the W and an Ocatillo at about 10 degrees. If you walk to the right side of the Ocatillo you can see the remains of an old one due north.
Go back to the trail and follow it to the fallen old one. Stubbornly some of its ribs are still standing. Go left about 20 steps and then veer to the right up to a Palo Verde. About 20 steps generally right and further ahead from the Palo Verde is a headless Saguaro. At the headless Saguaro 160 degrees about 4 steps. On the downside of a fairly large rock (not a boulder), under a smaller, flat-bottomed, hefty rock of like material.
Here the Walking Cactus is memorialized.
all standard desert warnings apply.
all standard considerations for sealing container and hiding for those who follow apply.
Please note: there is no room for a hitchhiker w/o compromising the seal of the box. Please don't force one.
If you do the entire hike, 2 miles in and two miles out.
1.3 miles follow a course across the hilly desert floor.
The last .7 mile starts a non-stop burn up 700 feet to a saddle where the maintained trail ends.
The final 240 feet of hand over foot climbing boosts you up to a chute to the top of the peak.
Maps: Vulture Peak Quadrangle