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Colorful Desert…”supellex varia ad desertum”

I believe I have already shared some images from my springtime wanderings in the state trust land north of the White Tank Mountains in northwest Surprise, AZ…but I didn’t share many of the floral images…so here they are…covering a range of something like 22 days…three Sunday morning visitations.

Interesting name for the ones below…”Blue Dicks.”  I prefer the alternative name of Desert Hyacinth…just sounds better, somehow…Dichelostemma capitatum.

Chia, below….Salvia columbariae.

Rounded a bend in the trail and found this mass of lupines…Arizona or Coulter’s lupine…something like Lupinus sparsiflorus.

Closer….

….with their telltale eight leaves….

Lupine and a single Golden Poppy…Eschscholtzia mexicana.

A view to the north and east from the state trust land….

Lupine and Desert Fiddleneck…Amsinckia tessellata….

And the near ubiquitous Brittlebush…Encelia farinosa.

Orange Globe Mallow, Sphaeralcea munroana, with Lupine.

Probably Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa…as the spines are much closer than we usually see on the Staghorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia versicolor.

Probably Buckhorn Cholla, not Staghorn

Red Brome…Bromus madritensis.

Lupine…in preparation (parabatur).

Desert Chicory…or New Mexico Plumeseed…Rafinesquia neomexicana.

Desert Bluebell…Phacelia campanularia.

That’s all for now…Quod ut ‘quia iam omnia.

Clouds…and hope for a high-desert rain….

Day trip north on Saturday of last week…US Highway 89 from north of Wickenburg, through Yarnell, into and out of Prescott, brushing up against Ash Fork, heading west on I-40 and skirting Kingman, and then back down US 93 to US 60 and “home” again….

It was good to see cottonwood trees along roadways again.

Maybe Argemone pleiacantha, Southwestern Pricklypoppy…maybe, quite possibly…also found alongside the roadway…high desert travels.

Fat, fluffy clouds are a welcome sight in the high and low deserts…even if they are accompanied by high winds and the general ugliness of broken branches and occasionally uprooted trees and downed fences; they’re seasonal treasures that truly freshen and sweeten the air and leave a rich verdure in their passing.

Windows down on the truck, just me and my thoughts…green rambling forests…the smell of warming juniper on the breeze….

Someone received the distant rain…rather, it was received somewhere, maybe not where any people could feel it…although, by the time I arrived in Prescott, further north and west of where we see the rain in the above image, I did receive a little of it…something like 13-17 drops on my windscreen…a regular downpour.

An anvil cloud in preparation, above, is usually a good hint that rain is coming.

This section of US 89 was new to me.  I’d driven it plenty between Flagstaff and south of Salt Lake, but never this stretch.

Low clouds…

…wide horizons with a lot of green in between…

…and then out of the mountains into the high desert flat-lands north of Prescott…

…raw desert with compelling geologic formations…

…some kind of caramel ball wildflowers along the roadway…

…and southern clouds that didn’t leave a drop in their passing….

Sycamore Canyon – Parsons Trail, Stream in Context

This was my destination when I was on the road and spotted the fire on the desert morning mountains in an earlier post…Parsons Trail in Sycamore Canyon.  You might remember that I visited here in March of 2015…before Spring had sprung…that’s over five years ago, already.

More images will follow, of course, but I hope you’ll enjoy these three…all taken from the same spot, more or less, accounting for shifting feet…

…starting with a closer look down the stream beneath the canopy of overhanging trees…

…and then slowly widening the view to encompass more of the surroundings.

Yes, this is Arizona…just north of Cottonwood…which is north and east of Prescott…and a bit south and west of Sedona…if you’re familiar with those places.

Toward Frary Peak on Antelope Island – Part Last

It’s been about six months since I posted the previous installment, so it’s probably been long enough now that the images won’t be overwhelmingly familiar…and so that our experience in viewing them won’t be with an almost blindness to the manifest beauty that’s out there because our palate had become over-saturated with it.

It’s approaching a year since I was out there walking the trails that you can see in the above and subsequent two photos…almost a year since I felt that Utah summer sun on my shoulders and face as I turned so many times to look around me, since I shielded my eyes so I could view the distant spread of gray earth to the shimmering water…

…and beyond to the islands and mountains that formed the various views of the horizon.

Yes, almost a year since I viewed them with my literal eyes, but it’s not been so long since I had images of those islands, mountains, and horizons reflecting in my mind’s eye…or looking up at me from the computer where they remain in this present form.

I can recall the stretch in my calves as I climbed up the trail to this point and how my heart beat in the moments when my legs rested so I could catch my wind…how I stared at the hillsides and took-in the skeletal remains of the trees that had succumbed to old fires, and how I watched strings of bison plod from the north to the south side of the island in their ant-like following of their leaders…or obeyed the urge to go and be with their intimates when they saw them walking away….

I recall those things now looking at these images…looking northeast in the above photo…

…and southeast in these, above and below.

Wasatch Mountains trailing north in the below photo…

…and Fremont Island off to the northwest in the below….

I’ve run out of words and superlatives…

…and you already know what’s in my heart for this place…

…so I’ll just thank you for joining me here again…and hope you’ve enjoyed the visit.

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.