March 14, 2017, Superior- After an intensive review of the desert plants, with which I have become so well familiar, thanks to both Boyce Thompson Arboretum and its sister institution, Desert Botanical Garden, I headed up along the High Trail, to have a look at Picket Post House’s exterior (the house doesn’t re-open for visits, until either next year or 2019), and Ayer Lake, a small reservoir that was drawn from Queen Creek, for the purpose of attracting water fowl and aquatic reptiles.
High Trail goes between Ayer Lake and Picket Post House, then loops around to the west and south, along the eastern base of Picket Post Mountain. The first twenty minutes of my hike, on this relatively easy trail, found me in a wealth of company- it being Spring Break for Arizona schools. There were birders galore, at Ayer Lake, teen girls with selfie sticks, on the rocks above the reservoir and adventurous boys, who followed me in exploring a couple of ledges, overlooking a western spur of Queen Creek Gorge. The parents of the kids were close by, enjoying the relative comfort of the thatched-roof ramada.
Here are further scenes of this very full visit. Ayer Lake, rather still on this mild day, has at least one resident turtle, and several Black Phoebes, enjoying the cold water.
I saw a couple Red-tailed hawks circling around, as well. They are said to nest in the rhyolite boulders, which abound in this park that was built from nature, not imposed on it.
This overlook was most popular with the girls.
Of course, it had the best view of the reservoir.
Speckled and striated rhyolite, between lake and mansion, testify to the presence of both copper and iron, in the area.
Picket Post House itself looms just above these boulders, and almost seems protected by the creek and canyon, which loop around its northern and western flanks.
The boys and I saw this hint of the coming spring, from the canyon’s edge.
Here was a sight that caused the boys to turn back from the overlook.
Picket Post House, seen from a southwestern vantage point, shows its retaining wall.
I look forward to seeing the place, in its full magnificence, once it becomes part of the park’s exhibits, a year or two hence.
Next up: The High Trail’s western course.