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.
…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….
Driving north for a family event and celebration….
A small collection of roadside images made over the span of two hours and five minutes….
Traversing approximately one hundred and fifty miles….
And representing three of the United States….
Panning east to west and proceeding minute by minute, this was the view from the side of a road less than one mile from my house last evening.
I’ve mentioned before that I live in the far northwest corner of the “Valley of the Sun” that is Metropolitan Phoenix…the pan of desert that through the miracles and science of hydrology and irrigation, comes alive with great expanses of nearly unnatural hues of green that we don’t expect to find in places such as this.
The foreground is dominated by watermelon fields, the dark line with the golden cap beyond the field is ripening corn, and then you see the edge of a neighborhood to the left (east), and then the Estrella Mountains in the distance. There are hiking trails on the right (west) end that are similar to the ones found in the White Tank Mountains that you can see in the last photograph below.
The trails are part of the offerings in the Estrella Mountain and White Tank Mountain Regional Parks, which were created and are maintained by the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department.
Making photos of this area has been on the agenda for the last couple of weeks…as the softer light of the setting sun make for more appealing images. The clouds were not expected, but greatly appreciated. They are an early indication of the approaching monsoon season, but have yet to do anything more serious than add to the humidity and cause desert hearts to long for rain.
She breathes quiet and deep and fierce…a harsh whisper of tones unheard but felt…present then gone and stirring and troubling always…not in concert even with herself…one moment….
You may remember this building from my earlier post, Salt Lake City County Building. It is part of my morning skyline when I look to the north from my workplace in downtown. This photo is untreated…and the building still looks awesome, especially with the powerful clouds.
This post literally picks up the trail where the earlier post, Broads Fork – Part I, left off. You can click on the highlighted name of the post to go back to it if you’d like to see where we are in reference to it…. I took this photo standing next to the beaver pond that those two people were walking past in photo #8 of the last post…looking toward the west where we now see both of the Twin Peaks….
This is another backward perspective from the middle of a scree trail…we’re actually going the opposite direction, still heading toward the cirque at the end of the trail…maybe this photo is supposed to be after the next two, but I’m not sure…maybe, though….
You might remember this one…but now it has a wider/larger view of the mountainside beneath the loving cloud….
This is where we make the final ascent into the cirque at the end of the trail. Given that it’s the first week of July and it’s been rather warm down in the valley, I’m not too sure about walking across the remaining snow…don’t know how deep it goes…don’t know what’s under it if I fall through…so I went to the right of the snow field, up over the rocks….
…and found that the trail kept going up, up, up…. I discovered on my way down, by talking with a couple of people you shall see shortly, that the trail would have eventually taken me up to the saddle between Sunrise Peak and the western slope of the Twin Peaks.
But this is where I stopped, you can see my backpack in the lower right corner of the above photograph. You can also see the ascending trail in lighter rocks…. I didn’t research the hike the week before, as I usually do when going on a new trail. I had actually looked into it about a year or so ago when one of my sons and I went up to Lake Blanche (and two other lakes nearby), which is situated in the canyon to the east of Broads Fork and has it’s trailhead on the opposite end of the same parking lot as Broads Fork’s. So I already knew where the trailhead was located and knew that I’d be hiking for a bit more than four miles up into the mountains…but had forgotten most of the rest of what I had read over the intervening year. If I had remembered the rest of what I had read, I would have known that I could have hiked a bit further, switchback by switchback, up to that saddle, and then went up to either Sunrise Peak or to the western summit of Twin Peaks. But I was hiking alone and wouldn’t have attempted that on this trip anyway…so it doesn’t really matter that I had forgotten….
This is another shot, below, that I’ve provided for perspective’s sake…that’s actually a 57yo mother and her 25yo son crossing the snow field, with mom behind the son. I had turned around again to see my back-trail and noticed them at the top left of the snow field…and it took me a few long seconds to get the camera set enough to zoom in and capture them before they left the white background of the snow…so please forgive the uneven shot with the top of the peak missing….
There is a story in one of the religious texts or holy books that details an incident where the people’s god tells their leader to speak to a particular stone and it will bring forth water…the leader was angry with the people for being disobedient, so he struck the stone instead…and it still brought forth water…but he had to pay the consequences later by not being allowed to enter into the land that the god had promised to his people…. I think of this story whenever I see water coming out of the ground like this…sometimes I see it seeping directly out of a hillside and forming a tiny little stream that flows down that hill until it reaches another and larger stream…other times I have seen larger streams, again, seeping out of a hillside. This is the first time, though, that I have seen such a stream flowing directly out of the mostly flat ground…and appearing almost to come out of a rock. When I examined the spring more closely, I found that the water was not seeping from the rock field above it…the ground above the spring was not waterlogged…there was no water flowing from the rocks above, nor seeping or flowing down from the large snow field seen above…so either the snow is melting and draining into a natural cistern below all of those rocks and then pouring out of this spring, or this is a true spring with water flowing up from the ground…at over 8,500 ft in elevation. I don’t know which it is and I suppose it doesn’t really matter for our purposes here…but I thought it was rather fascinating…and beautiful….
These next two photographs are especially for Allen from New Hampshire Garden Solutions…another blog friend who knows and loves wildflowers…. I want to say that the flowers in the first photo are Pygmyflower Rock Jasmine, because that’s what the flowers looks like, even though the stem and the rest of the plant don’t….
…and we have a definite match with this second one…it’s called a Green Gentian, or Monument Plant…the coloring rather looks like a lizard’s skin to me…but maybe that just means that I lived in the desert for too long….
And now a final “Thank You” to the gentleman hiker who caught my camera before it hit the ground as he was changing the camera’s position from landscape to portrait orientation for this last shot….
Walking the Great Western Trail from above Desolation Lake toward Guardsman Pass in the Wasatch Mountains, I happened to uncautiously look up from the steeply slanted snowbank that I was crossing and had to quickly steady myself from falling backwards as I stood upright and gazed at the strange clouds above me….
Another mile or so down the trail, I happened to look up again and off to the east beyond the mountains and found that the cloud was slowly dispersing….
I was down the front steps and close to the curb and decided that I would go back into the house and get the camera for my evening walk…something that I don’t usually do, because it’s been mostly dark…and stopping to take photos all the time sort of impedes the briskness and exercise quality of the walk. It was a rewarding walk…and it got brisk on the way home after the sun was down and no longer providing a tempting light for whatever might have caught my eye….
If you’d like to see some incredible cloud-scapes and sunsets, visit Ordered Chaos at his site. Many of his shots are from what appears to be the high-rise roof-top or balcony where he lives, which provides an amazing vantage point for his beautiful photography.
These are some of my shots taken in Salt Lake City, Utah, the other day while on my lunch-time walk.
Lightning or nerve endings or naked Aspen in the sky….
Boundless or framed, it’s more beautiful when there’s something in it….
…or so they say. And I might believe them, but only for today. I’ve been duped before, led to believe and hope and whatever then. But, it’s warm outside and the wind is blowing and the leaves are skittering about as the wind chimes are chiming and gonging as they’re singing their song. I looked outside and then walked outside as I took a break from my morning walk about the kitchen in my making of coffee and feeding the dogs and etc and etc. I looked to my favored East and above the mountains and noticed the clouds there with their morning waking and moving. I saw, too, that the sun was rising and poking through the spreading hue, as there was a sizeable space between the bottom of the clouds and the tops of the mountains and the morning sun shone through and lighted the clouds with a fiery orange and a gentle pink and a touch of Fall’s golden-yellow and then. The colors reached and bathed the bottoms of the clouds, but missed somehow the thicker and gray curls and swirls of the farthest sides. Those darkened lines defined and shaped the golden rose of the flaming clouds and kept them from drawing further across the sky. This bright morning waking of the clouds only touched the snow-topped crags beneath them, for the dark-souled mountains only stood there with their contrasting black forms and white coats that defined their draws and points…so I rushed back inside and grabbed my low-budget camera and snapped a shot of that fiery glow above the rocky peaks and nearly exclaimed in disgust at how the image captured there was so lame and bland and looked nothing like the glory of that eastern morning sky…so you only get to read my words today and not rest your eyes on the beauty that I beheld those minutes and hours or more ago.
I don’t remember the sensation or feeling of having been there before, when I was actually there and lakeside, but when I look back at these pictures, I can’t help feeling that I’ve seen this place somewhere in my past. Upon further reflection, though, what comes to mind are images that I remember seeing in my mind’s eye when I read E. Annie Proulx’s, “The Shipping News.” The rocky shorelines of White Pine Lake remind me of what I imagined the coastline of Newfoundland to look like. Anyway…it was a cloudy day and the dark blue-green and steel of the water seem to offer a beautiful complement to the steel and white and gray of the cloudy mountain sky…and vice versa…or something like that.
I guess the theme is natural white…the color we find in the elegantly contrasting clouds against the rich blue sky, the massive mountains of White, or “Temple” Granite that were the birthplace for the boulders that were used to build the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, and the crush of water that is flying and thundering down the Little Cottonwood Canyon Stream…all beautifully brilliant and alluring….
The clouds forgave me for my shortcomings and unrealized dreams from their heights, and they did so without the condescension one might expect from someone or some thing of their station or stature. They acknowledged my temporal eternity and honored my striving. They hung up there in their desert afternoon in their high lightness and form. I gazed beyond the queen-palms’ efforts at obscuring their slow dance and noticed they were standing with an earthly stillness in that solitary spot above me. They moved not in their hanging there. They were beyond the effects of any high-minded breeze or jet-stream, like a kite stuck in a dream that had reached its height on the wings of a storm and had then become frozen in its ever place. So they forgave me, as I said, for the many things at which I have failed or fallen short…and for my impractical dreams and dreams and then. They told me that it’s ok, whatever it is and was. I can try again. I can dedicate myself anew to my pursuits and responsibilities. The dirt of the past is done. They said this as they started to shift, though, so I’m not sure I can believe them. They said this as their ethereal mass began to dissipate and their bodies became only mist with a thinness that belied their certainty. Their substance was fleeting, as was my confidence in their sentiment. I began to doubt their sincerity and wondered if I should believe in them or no. I think this may have irritated them, for they started to move together again, to join again unto their parted selves. Their furrowed brows darkened in their gathering and they moved with heavy footsteps. I heard their grumbling in the distance and wondered if it was at me that they were scowling and then. I had only doubted them. I had only questioned them as they began to flee after being so sure of themselves, as they were so insistent that my soul was salvageable. How could their confidence abide in me when their substance was so weak as to not be able to withstand the breeze? How could I trust their assertions when they couldn’t keep it together long enough for me to look to them for support from that one moment to the next? Their black and creasing brows continued to gather on that outside part of my periphery and the sky was soon dark in their brooding. The sun was inching itself away from them as they came together again in a mass of anger and self-righteousness. They fought in their glances and speared looks. They hurled insults on the breeze and tossed the winds upwards and down again. Dirt and detritus they caught in their absent hands and cast at my delicate skin and eyes, blinding and stinging me in their driven anger and storm. I thought they would have been more objective in their protesting, in their dissertation on slight and ignorance, but they weren’t. They were as insulted as I had originally been relieved in their forgiveness of my frail and human self. Their scorn became arrow-like darts of light and flash; indeed, they were brazen and razor-sharp piercings of my skin and soul. They flew in their rage and black cavernous hate and stacked themselves anvil-like in a column of evil air and haughty turbulence. Had I seen through their façade when I doubted them? Had I roused their ire when I questioned their ability to be steadfast in a storm? I waited for them to get over themselves, those miserable black and gristly clouds, those temporal harbingers of fright and concern. I stood there in defiance of their anger and shot my own scornful black-eyed gaze into their bursting souls and surprised myself and them. They broke into tears and sobs of quaking anguish and sorrow as their black hearts emptied into the gray evening and they lightened in their form. Moments and hours passed and the sun was down and the black was gone in the breeze of their passing. Those vaporous beings that were so sure of themselves and angry in their confidence were indeed light and frail, just like me. Their substance was mist and their temporal hearts were tender. They possessed and gave life in their coming and going and asked only to be believed-in, to be trusted, and then, those clouds in their desert sky.