Just beyond that there’s a short ladder that takes you on top of the hoodoo-like mesa.
From there the trail meanders over the rocky surface.
There are fine vistas and we were still enjoying some dramatic skies.
From there we headed off down the official scenic drive where we pulled in to the Pothole Point Trail. This is another easy .6 mile loop. The draw is the view of course but also the pools of water that fill the “potholes” that dimple the surface of the rock here and there.
It seems that there is ephemeral life when the potholes fill with water during the monsoon season…like now! They’d had an inch of rain here the week before our visit so we were optimistic that we’d see mosquito larvae, small snails, pollywogs of desert frogs and maybe even a Tadpole Shrimp
We started out but the first few potholes were dead. Maybe there’d be deeper ones further on. After checking several more without luck we were resigning ourselves to enjoying the view. Finally, at one larger pool movement was spotted. A closer look revealed that we’d hit the jackpot!
We found every critter in this pothole that is mentioned in the trail guide. We had a blast watching them and trying to get a picture. Shrimp, living in a puddle in the middle of the desert. They mate and lay eggs that can withstand the 175° temperature at the bottom of the dry puddle this becomes in summer. All this in a lifespan of only a month or so. Crazy!
While we were enjoying the show, a German couple stopped to look. Then a Japanese family…dad, mom, a 6 or 7 year old boy and grandpa. Mom and the boy approached, and we pointed out the movement of the shrimp in the puddle. We had a moment of concern about what they might do (after witnessing a Japanese mom setting her toddler 2’ from the head of a grazing buffalo in Yellowstone).
The pamphlet warns not to even touch the water since cosmetics and lotions can kill a pool that has lived happily for thousands of years. We were just waiting for the kid to go splashing through the pool, but our fears were unfounded. Mom kept close hold of the boy, and he seemed quite fascinated with no interest in doing more than look. Mom must’ve read the pamphlet. It is amazing how long a .6 mile hike can take us. Sharon got some nice shots with her little Sony H9.
We drove to the end of the scenic drive then out the park entrance to the Needles Outpost, a private campground and store just a mile and a half away. We took a short walk out to the puebloean granery on the way.
In preparation for our attempt at the 11 mile Chesler Park Loop the next day, we decided to retire and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at our most excellent campsite.
We made some gin & tonics and broke out some cheese and crackers.
Sharon caught up on her trip notes and we waved at all the new arrivals as they cruised the campground trying to pick out a site.
I’ll admit to feeling a little smug.
After a while we got our cameras out and had fun exploring around our toadstool campsite. There were lots of lizards sunning themselves and you could get quite close if you moved slowly