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Fire on the desert morning mountains….

On the first morning of summer, 6-21-2020, at 0439 hours…a glow on the horizon that didn’t belong there.

I was heading north to go hiking in something like a desert riparian paradise…nine minutes into the trip, following the freeway north and then east…rounded the curve and saw the above view from afar…probably a couple dozen miles…

…smoke in the draw between the ridges…

…north of New River…north of North Phoenix…

…wild…

…and disconcertingly beautiful…

Referred to as the Central Fire in local media…burning since the previous day.

City Paint Phoenix 23 – “No More Stolen Sisters”

It’s been a while since I shared any street art findings from Phoenix….

Wednesday morning before work…driving up and down Roosevelt Row and the many feeder streets that lead to and from the artsy neighborhood and its surround…quiet and COVID-near-empty streets.

It had been a while since I had driven this particular alleyway…who knew…at The Churchill in Phoenix.

It’s not just a painting…click on the below links to read more….

Amnesty International – No More Stolen Sisters

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

The Guardian – No More Stolen Sisters

Equal Means Equal – No More Stolen Sisters

To read more about the artist, La Morena, click on this link.

 

ludere luminis

Serendipity…

…I stopped for something else…

…enjoyed that something else…

…reluctantly left…

…back on the road…

…toward the original destination…

…the Earth moved in its way…

…’round the Sun…

…on its axis…

…and the horizon lowered…

…to bring us “Sunrise”….

* A companion post to “a morning’s grace” from August 2019.

Sycamore Creek

My former co-worker and friend, Chris, was traveling back from northeast AZ and had to stop to take some photos…the visuals were too good to not capture…somewhere along the Beeline Highway on a Spring afternoon…last year….

Dog Lake…and Lakes Mary, Martha, and Catherine

These aren’t necessarily from the archives proper, but the photos are from a little while ago.  August of last year found me visiting my Utah kids and then visiting the mountains and canyons south and east of Salt Lake City.  You might remember that I lived there for a few years…a few years ago now…and that I spent most weekends hiking in those nearby Wasatch Mountains.

Of the many hikes that I took while living in Utah, I never went to the lakes that I am presenting in this post.  They are situated in the conjoined space at the far eastern end of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.  In fact, one can walk up to the lakes from the Big Cottonwood side, at the Brighton ski resort, and continue on the trail back down to the Alta ski resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, or vice versa.

I didn’t visit the lakes for the precise reason that I described above…their proximity to potentially great quantities of people.  To give a small example of how many people one might encounter there, let me say that there were five vehicles, including mine, when I arrived in the parking lot at 5:55 am, and over 50 when I returned to my truck at 10:30 am…and that was on a Monday morning in the middle of summer.  When I lived there, I hiked on weekend mornings…so I avoided the place…in hopes of avoiding the above mentioned “great quantities of people.”

I didn’t study a map of the mountains before leaving for the hike, so I was a little surprised that I would encounter Dog Lake on the near approach to Lake Mary.  The little body of water in the second photo is Dog Lake.  There is another Dog Lake in Millcreek Canyon, just north of Big Cottonwood Canyon…and back when I used to study my mountain map of the area, I knew of both of these Dog Lakes…but had forgotten about this one.  You might remember a black and white rendition of the above photo….

The photo below is from the close approach to Lake Mary…just a little ways further into the mountains from Dog Lake.  As you can see the concrete wall in this image, you can tell that this is actually a reservoir, not a true lake.

Not that it matters much, what we call it…especially when we get up to the mountain-reflecting body of water and look out over it….

I had a sense of being home again when I was out on the trail heading up to the lakes…off in the mountains…very few people around…the smells of mountain earth, forest, flowers, grasses, and maybe even the water…all of it flooding my head…rejuvenating the muscle-memories and the actual physical sense of “being” in those surroundings.

I would have to confess then, too, that my body also knew it was only visiting, that it had been existing in the desert at maybe 1,200 feet in elevation…and that it was now hiking from over 8,700 feet up to 9,200 feet…and I felt that difference in my lack of wind and the need to “pull over” every now and then to catch my breath…heart pounding as it was rejoicing….

You can see the top of the reservoir wall in the below image.

There were three or four people sitting around Lake Mary and their voices carried loudly over the water and in the thinner air, so I made my few photographs and then headed back up the trail…up a little further to Lake Martha.

The bluebells were in a huge clump, almost like a grove, actually, if that’s possible…a rather large swath of near boggy forest floor that was covered in great, dark green leaves of some familiar plant whose name I didn’t know…with pink sparks of Indian paintbrush…and then almost purple gray smudges of what became bluebells as I got closer.

Life in passing…in waiting…in anticipation….

Between Lakes Martha and Catherine, there is a something like a minor cirque on the south side of the trail…it rather resembled an amphitheater…an almost bowl-like depression in the ground like some huge something had reached down and scooped out a chunk of earth and then littered the ground with grass and wildflowers and pine cones and rock litter from the hills above….

I sat in the grass and flowers for several minutes with my elbows propped on my knees, making photo after photo of the flowers…with my head and heart lost in the present and the past and wanting to stay there…right there…for fucking ever.

Anyway….

The bowl of Lake Catherine from the left…

…the middle…

…and the right….

This little guy has a bite of my chocolate brownie Cliff’s bar in his hands….

Now heading away from the lake…

Encountering another little squirrel-person eating what he’s supposed to eat…and appearing more fit and trim for doing so….

Lake Mary from above….

Yes…my favorite flower, ever…the Colorado Columbine in its various opening stages.

Below…red, white, and blue Wasatch Mountain wildflowers.

And the trail back down from Lake Mary with its patch of near hedge-like accompaniment of yellow flowers…and the forest beyond….

Thank you for enduring the longer post…for going home again with me to my beloved Wasatch Mountains…even if it was only for a few minutes.  If you enjoyed the hike even half as much as I did, I know you absolutely loved it.

White Tank Mountains – Brittlebush

Encelia farinosa

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum fact-sheet

Sunday

March 1, 2020

8:14 – 8:55 a.m.

White Tank Mountains, Surprise, Arizona, United States

Arizona State Trust Land

Hiking

“Alone”

Not Lonely

Never Alone

vintage desert

One from the archives…November, 2018…looking east along the Walking Jim Trail…Lake Pleasant in the distance…and the rolling desert hills in between here and there.

two sides of the sky

One minute apart looking in opposite directions….

7:34 am, above; 7:35 am, below

Morning in the desert on State Trust land, just north of the White Tank Mountains in northwest Surprise, Arizona, USA.

New River Exploration

It’s been over a month already since I went looking for something new, a local place that contained a bit of wildness, a place that I hoped contained something like wildness, anyway.

I cross a bridge on my way to work every morning that spans a desert river that was a mere stream when I encountered it on January 5th of this year.

At this particular location, the river runs between the Glendale Municipal Airport to the west and the Arizona Cardinals’ stadium to the east….

…so it’s not exactly far away from anything civilized…and one might even suggest that it’s still smack-dab in the middle of it all.

I “had” to hop the fence that you might have noticed in the very first photo above.  I wanted to walk and explore along the actual river, so I had to get away from the cemented and fenced bike and walking path.  It was only upon my return to the walkway that I noticed the No Trespassing sign with its warning of prosecution, fines, and jail time.  Good grief.

Anyway, I found a free-flowing river, of sorts, one that happened to still be alive and moving in the desert.  I’m not sure how much of it will still be around come summer, but it was pleasant enough during my few hours out there.

One might consider that the riparian vegetation and bird life was enough to make this something approaching “wild.”

When we look closely we can see microcosms of life beneath the desert trees; we can see the tiny flora that can’t help but enrich the soil of the waterway.

There was an unexpected diversity of riparian trees, bushes, grasses, and other assorted growing stuff along the way.

You may already know of my admiration for dew drops on morning desert grasses….

It was almost easy to forget that I was close to an airport and football stadium when I didn’t look around or hear an aircraft overhead.

There was a feeling of being “away,” as long as I focused on what I could see and not so much on what I could hear.

I’m not sure of the particular variety, but there were many cottonwood trees along the waterway.

And even a fairly grand assortment of bird-life, as well (more to be highlighted in a following post).

Even a richness in the winter-colored ground-cover….

I don’t know what they’re called, but I think they’re fascinating little Japanese lantern type things that I found in only one spot along the river.

After going south and exploring close to a mile along the waterway, I encountered a significantly boggy stretch of ground that would have prevented me from keeping my boots dry if I continued heading in that direction.

So I went back north and past the roadway that I drive every morning, under the overpass, and into another stretch of the riparian wilderness that was more densely packed with trees and reeds and tall wild grasses and other thriving things.  I had to skirt quite a bit of the more slowly moving water and take a broader view of the area.

I finally made it close enough to the water and found the above setting; it was almost like being under a forest canopy.

A final image of the New River plant life.