Hiking the Tramonto Hills

I have hiked into and among these hills several times over the past two years.  They are just east of the neighborhood where I live in north Phoenix and are a distinctive landscape feature that is visible for many miles.   It wasn’t until last week when I posted the images of the Golden Poppies that  I learned what “Tramonto” actually means…I had figured that it was the name of a place in Italy…given that the street names of the development are all related to Italy in some manner or another.  But, thanks to Emilio at Disperser Tracks, I now understand that the word means “sunset,” and it is quite fitting, as the hills are often lit with a beautiful, golden hue during the last hour of a given day.

Tramonto Hillside at the start of the trail

It was a wet-enough Winter that the hills have come alive with the bright yellows and soft greens that are typical of early Spring in this part of the desert.  In the above image, you can see multitudes of Brittlebush blossoms…a very common sight at this time of the year.  Some people might say that it’s invasive, or maybe unnatural to exist as profusely as it does, but it brightens the roadside along the highways on this north end of town and makes it almost pleasurable to be out on those freeways…going…going….

Greening desert of Tramonto Hills

I don’t know the names of the tiny white flowers above, or even the larger ones in the photo below, but they were tender treasures in the shaded slope of the hills that made me want to tarry long and forget about the rest of the ascent to the saddle and several minor summits that awaited me.

Desert wildflower on Tramonto Hills

But those little summits and saddles were my goal on this particular morning…I wanted to view the surrounding area from these specific places, as I had never been there before and didn’t know when I would get there again…so onward and upward I went.

Looking west from Tramonto hillside

I had no delusions that I might escape the signs and trappings of civilization when I embarked on this hike…as I will admit that I do when venturing out on many other hiking excursions…I knew that I was essentially smack-dab in the middle of it, but I knew that the offered views would be wonderful.  Looking a bit southwest in the above photo…and almost due west in the one below…the near ritual hot-air balloon rides were underway on this weekend morning….

Due west from Tramonto hillside

…with the broad view above, where we can’t seem to escape the ubiquitous electrical poles and lines…with a bit of freeway thrown in for fun….

Skeleton of baby cholla cactus

…and then the much closer view of examining Nature’s leavings on one of the few saddles along the way.

Looking south from saddle on Tramonto Hills

Looking south from the same saddle…the desert hills…a stately Saguaro…Orange Globe Mallow in the foreground, and a bit of Brittlebush again with its yellow flowers.

Volcanic flowers on Tramonto Hills saddle

This one above is actually a photograph of the volcanic rocks…and the flowers kind of got in the way.  It seems that the hills facing west are made of a type of crumbling granite and the hills just east and north of them are covered in various kinds of volcanic mess…some with the appearance of lava and others with the appearance of basalt…that provided a nice glass-like tinkling when they clanked into each other when moved under-foot.

Looking south at hot-air balloon over the desert

Yet another view of a solitary balloon…looking southeast now…over the desert plain…with the metropolitan “fog” in the air….

The hard and the soft of the desert

Far and near….near and far….and many fascinations do we find…sweet flowers and wild grass pollen or seed….

A cairn and Lake Pleasant from atop the Tramonto Hills

Who knew we’d be able to see Lake Pleasant from up there…but ahoy, there it is….west…and beyond the basalt-ed cairn….  And yet another cairn when looking north over Anthem and the prominent Gavilan Peak….

Looking north over Anthem from atop the Tramonto Hills

…and looking east, now, at the opposite side of the first cairn above…with the metro-mist and a balloon, to boot….

Looking east toward Cave Creek from atop the Tramonto Hills

You’ve already seen the Golden Poppies, but I encountered them on the way down from the various saddles and summits…down in the deeper shadows of the volcanic ridge-line, waiting for the sun-shower that would soon be theirs….

Unfurled Golden Poppies in the shadows of Tramonto Hills

While the below image was taken earlier than some of the previous photographs, it seemed like a nice way to end the post…so there it is…looking south and east from the first saddle with the various desert hills cloaked in what looks like a carpet of green….

Microwave tower over desert hills


20 responses

  1. Your photos are awesome…it must be amazing to hike in a place like that. I can really feel the epicness of the landscape.

    March 11, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it, HP….thank you.

      March 12, 2016 at 6:22 pm

  2. Very nice and excellent shots.

    March 11, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    • Thank you, Emilio.

      March 19, 2016 at 9:05 am

  3. This made my morning, as you gave me the feeling I was travelling with my morning coffee in my hand, so thank you for a perfect start of the day! I love how you even at one point describe the sound under your feet, these are the kind of details that make some places unique.

    March 11, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    • I hope the rest of your day went as well, GR…I’m glad you enjoyed the post…. You’re quite welcome. 🙂

      March 19, 2016 at 9:07 am

  4. A great hike, for sure. I’d love to see the desert from a hot air balloon! Love the image of the cactus skeleton.

    March 12, 2016 at 3:20 am

    • I’ve been on an early-morning hot-air balloon flight…several years ago…. I’d like to go again, but toward early evening…maybe approaching sunset with the softer light.

      March 19, 2016 at 9:09 am

  5. Gorgeous images! Such a fascinating close-up photo… is that the remains of a cactus?

    March 12, 2016 at 6:54 am

    • Thank you, Lemony…and yes, that is the remains of a Cholla cactus…with its rather fascinating structure.

      March 19, 2016 at 9:11 am

  6. What beautiful views in spite of all the man made stuff getting in the way. I’d love to visit a real desert someday.
    Those poppies have me a bit befuddled. Do they ever open fully like other poppies or do they stay that way, pretending to be tulips?

    March 12, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    • Yes, Allen…in spite of all the man made stuff getting in the way, it can still be beautiful.

      All of the poppy images were made within the same three or five minutes…in the shaded area of the hillside. If I had returned in an hour or more, I could have made photographs of them full open…in the direct sunlight.

      March 12, 2016 at 1:03 pm

  7. Liana

    TRAMONTO….a new word! Lovely as your pictures 🙂

    March 17, 2016 at 4:56 am

    • Thank you, Liana….and yes…a new word! 🙂

      March 19, 2016 at 9:12 am

  8. I really enjoyed all the contrasts you captured in this set. Showing so much more to love about your desert home! 😀

    March 18, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    • So glad you enjoyed them, Miss Gunta. 🙂

      March 19, 2016 at 9:13 am

  9. It seems so reassuring to come and visit here to find that you are still hiking out in that wonderful wilderness, Scott. Not just that, but your near and far images are so descriptive of the experience you had. It’s nice to be back!

    March 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    • Yes, I am still out there, John…out in that wonderful wilderness, although the desert will be warming-up significantly pretty soon, so I will have to venture further north, or just much earlier, to that I don’t roast in the process. I’m glad you’re back, too, John…..

      March 23, 2016 at 12:45 pm

  10. Stunning images Scott!

    March 28, 2016 at 1:29 am

    • Thank you, Adrian. 🙂

      April 1, 2016 at 8:16 am

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