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….