The last eleven miles of the trip to Sycamore Canyon were on a dirt road that started out good and ended up bad…clouds of dust rolled up behind me in the morning light, making a hazy contrail that faded and ran in the rear-view mirror…eight miles to go and I almost didn’t stop….seven miles to go and I couldn’t not-stop. They stretched that far, first thin and then full. I got out of the truck and was surprised at the coolness of the air…and the light perfume that rode on its tiniest breezes. There was a fresh sweetness everywhere…literally surrounding me on this high-desert plain.
Late December, 2014…an uncommon presentation of a common-enough occurrence in the Desert Hills of north Phoenix.
I’m not sure of the names of most of them…and I had found another handful or so while on my two most recent hikes along the Black Canyon Trail, but the sun was either too bright and washed-out the photos, or the images were out of focus, so here is the remnant. A couple of the photographs are of subjects other than wildflowers, but they stuck me as visually appealing, so I included them, as well. Remember, you can click on any image to be taken to a slide-show that presents the photos in a larger format.
Hiking the Black Canyon Trail north from Table Mesa Road presents you with choices…at about 1.5 miles into the trek, you must decide to go east or west…either way brings you to the Agua Fria River. If you go west, you encounter the river sooner than if you go east…regardless of when you get there, it’s going to be “refreshing” in a way that cold, winter water is going to be refreshing on a hike through the Arizona desert in early February.
There are many things to see out there, in that desert…things to look at…and things to really see. Sometimes perspective can blind us to what’s right in front of us…and other times, it reveals things that might be hidden…right in front of us.
“We all…apprehend the land imperfectly, even when we go to the trouble to wander in it. Our perceptions are colored by preconception and desire. The physical landscape is an unstructured abode of space and time and is not entirely fathomable; but this does not necessarily put us at a disadvantage in seeking to know it….”
“…Believing them to be fundamentally mysterious in their form and color, in the varieties of life inherent in them, in the tactile qualities of their soils, the sound of the violent fall of rain upon them, the smell of their buds – believing landscapes to be mysterious aggregations, it becomes easier to approach them. One simply accords them the standing that one grants the other mysteries, as distinguished from the puzzles, of life.” **
**The above words are from Barry Lopez in Arctic Dreams….