White Tank Mountains – State Trust Land

In April of the past year I went trespassing onto State Trust land that lies north and west of the White Tank Mountains.

White Tank Mountains, northwest side

I have now obtained my permit and can hike, shoot guns, park my truck, camp, get drunk and disorderly, or just otherwise mind my own business out there in the fenced desert of western Maricopa County.

White Tank Mountains closer to destination

On that first foray, I noticed the barely visible zigzag road on the side of the distant mountainside and purposed to get there someday, sometime, some other not-scorching Arizona morning.  Those are clumps of mistletoe hanging/subsisting in the palo verde tree in the below photograph…and creosote/greasewood in the foreground.

White Tank Mountain creosote, palo verde, and saguaro

So that’s where I went with purpose yesterday morning, back to that formerly trespassed land.  My plans for the day had been canceled and I jumped at the opportunity to get out there, to get out into the out-of-doors that lies just northwest of the town where I reside…to get into the literal desert just out there and beyond.

White Tank Mountain wild grasses

I’ve mentioned in the past how I find much of the desert so unappealing, especially when viewed from a distance, when all one sees is the rolling or flat or hilly or mountainy landscape or terrain or whatever you might call it…those locations where it just looks like dirt with green fur on it, if there’s even any fur to be seen.

White Tank Mountain panorama

And I’ve said, too, that I have intentionally gone out into the same desert looking for what my inner eye/heart might consider to be beautiful, compelling, possessing of that “something” that would make my mountain/forest loving soul, say, “Yes…it is beautiful out here.”

White Tank Mountain cholla skeleton

I have also shared that in order to find those things, I have had to look closer, to find those smaller things that give me pause, that insist upon being captured in images for me to reflect upon later, for me to enjoy.

White Tank Mountain ocotillo blossom

And so I endeavored….

White Tank Mountain assorted fauna

…to bring back images that were not too bleached-out by the late morning and early afternoon sun…

White Tank Mountain desert hillside

…to capture what might be a compelling representation of the essence of the lives that inhabit such a landscape…

White Tank Mountains wild grasses

…photographs that demonstrate what the desert is inside of that bleakness…the rolling fuzzy dirt of our West….

White Tank Mountain cholla

…the persistence of living…

White Tank Mountains decaying cholla

…the evidence of death and decay…

White Tank Mountains grass and cactus

…and the beautiful juxtaposition of harsh and delicate…

White Tank Mountain cactus in grass

…sharp and soft…

White Tank Mountains cholla and creosote

…loud and mute…

White Tank Mountains cholla in grass

…and may they be treasured…all.

White Tank Mountains grassy hillside

Thank you….

ADDENDUM: here is a nice link from AZBackcountryExplorers.com that provides helpful information about using State Trust Land.

15 responses

  1. It’s beautiful! I’ve had a few opportunities to walk amongst the desert fauna and terrain; always impressed with it’s remarkable variety, quite different from here in coastal NJ. M 🙂

    January 13, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    • Thank you, MV…and I would imagine that it is “quite” different from your coastal New Jersey!

      January 14, 2020 at 6:22 am

  2. Beautifully said.

    A quick question. Who granted the permit? Private or public entities?

    January 13, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    • Thank you, Emilio…and it was the Arizona State Land Department who granted the permit…and strangely, it’s a permit to “park on State Trust Land for recreational purposes.” So…one doesn’t need a permit to actually use/enter the land, but you need a permit to park there….?

      Hmm…anyway, my truck was parked on State Trust Land legally.

      January 14, 2020 at 6:21 am

    • Interesting. I wonder how many permits are granted and how they enforce them.

      January 14, 2020 at 7:57 am

      • The state trust land website provides that “Law Enforcement authority may include, but is not limited to State, County, City or Town Law Enforcement Officers who have jurisdictional authority.” It also mentions that failure to obtain a permit may result in criminal misdemeanor charges for trespassing on Trust land. I was not able to locate any statistics on how many permits were issued last year.

        January 18, 2020 at 10:07 am

  3. Wonderful words and images, Scott. 🙂

    January 14, 2020 at 6:27 am

    • Thank you, Lemony. 🙂

      January 18, 2020 at 10:11 am

  4. Thank YOU. You succeeded in bringing a “compelling representation of the essence of the lives” that inhabit that landscape. You have a way of guiding us along and we’re happy to be here. I like seeing the saguaros and the mistletoe in the third photo, such different shapes….then it really takes off and by the time I’ve reached the brilliant red ocotillo buds, then the 8th photo comes and I’m thrilling to the company of old friends: the ocotillo, the chollas, the barrel cacti, and little broad-leaved plants that might be mints or sages. Then maybe a pencil cholla of some kind? Harsh and delicate, that’s it! Mountains are inspiring but this landscape is so intensely vivid….unabashedly its own, ornery self. You meet it on its own terms. Thanks for that!

    January 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    • YOU are very welcome, Lynn…and such nice words. It is very clear that you have a fine appreciation for my desert habitation…rather like my appreciation of your Pacific Northwest. How nice that we can experience other’s worlds from so far away.

      January 18, 2020 at 10:14 am

      • It IS! Such different worlds and both are so intriguing.

        February 5, 2020 at 7:32 pm

  5. Marvelous, Scott!!! I think that closer look is required… unless it’s looking out at a sweep of desert with stormy skies that flash sheet lightening… or snow capped mountains in the distance (oops, that one is more back in your UT territory, but perhaps you get the idea?)

    As Lynn put it, that fantastic juxtaposition of harsh and delicate. If it weren’t for the heat, I could do AZ or NM for awhile… 😉

    January 16, 2020 at 8:21 pm

    • Thank you, dear Gunta…and yeas…only for a while! 🙂

      January 18, 2020 at 10:15 am

  6. Liana

    ah the backlighting . . . holding my hands up to it 🙂

    January 29, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    • No subdued skies with this visit….kinda hard to call it “winter” out here….

      February 20, 2020 at 6:13 pm

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