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#11 Saguaro East National Park, AZ

Leaving Saguaro West (after 3.1 miles) and winding my way through the north side of Tucson I passed by the Tohono Chul Botanic Gardens. It instantly took me back to an incident that happened there with Anna when she was 4 or 5. This may explain the aversion Anna and I have to cactus. She and I had flown to Tucson to visit Ted and Vickie Haluza. We decided it would be interesting to visit Tohono Chul Gardens, most of which is cactus. After parking the car, I noticed we were right next to a large bed of cactus. I told Anna to not move while I got our things from the car. The next thing we hear is Anna screaming. She was walking on top of the rock border and fell into the middle of the cactus patch. This wasn't just a few cactus; it was wall-to-wall cactus. I tried to extract her from the patch and realized she was completely covered in needles. The only place that wasn't too bad was her underarms. I had her lift her arms enough so that I could slide my hands vertically, using just the part of the hand that runs from the thumb to the forefinger under her armpits. I proceeded to carry her like this to the docent's office where we could obtain help. They used tape to pull the needles out. There were hundreds! Finally, the one man said, "This is too slow and painful for her, I'm going to use my hand". So he stuck himself over and over again to get them out of her. We had to cut her cute Minnie Mouse shirt and jumper off and throw them away and they found her a shirt from lost and found. The toxins gave her an allergic reaction and so the poor little girl was on large doses of Benadryl for the next several days. She never liked cactus after that. I was so very grateful to those kind docents for helping Anna. What would we have done without them?

After that agonizing flashback it was on to Saguaro East National Park.

Some more quick facts about the saguaro.

They usually grow about 40 - 50 feet tall, but some have been found at 75 feet tall. They won't get any arms until they are 70 years old and usually live to be 150 years old.

My hike in S. East was close to 5 miles. I ran/hiked on hilly roads and deserted dry washes. One wash was called Javalina and I was hoping that none of the ferocious pigs were about. It was deep sand in the wash and there would be no way to outrun them.

Danger signs in the desert. Super steep hills, rattlesnakes, slow tortoises, and slow rabbits.

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