Posts tagged “desert

Willow Canyon Hike in the White Tank Mountains

You might recall from this post, that I went into the White Tank Mountains after an early morning rain so I could specifically see/hear the water running down the various desert mountain waterways.  It had rained multiple times in the preceding week and again around three-something on this particular Sunday.

I had a somewhat fanciful goal of hiking the trail until the closest point of divergence that would allow me to “bushwhack” out and beyond that known area to find myself ascending the hill where those antennas were perched in the distance….they looked so close on the map….

It would very likely have taken me another two-plus hours to make it there over hill and over dale…and the dark clouds were coming in quickly with their occasional loosed drops of sky…so I postponed the goal and looked to the immediate landscape and much closer ground for what might be otherwise interesting.

I already shared a post (as mentioned with the link in the first paragraph above) with an image of a closer view of the bejeweled grass, but here’s another one with a bit of a broader view.

The brooding sky and a bit of trail in the foreground….

More foreground trail and the darkening sky above the antennas in the distance….

I know I’ve shared images of the Sonoran Desert’s cholla cactus in the past…probably numerous times…but it’s something that cannot be ignored when I’m out hiking, and no matter how many photos I seem to make, there’s something so strikingly individual about them that I’m compelled to share them again.

The cool, damp weather brought out a couple more “firsts” for me and my desert hiking adventures: a tarantula and baby frog on the trail in the White Tank Mountains.

And lastly, low clouds over the mountains partially obscured the towers just north of Barry Goldwater Peak at 4,083 feet in elevation.

Thank you again for visiting…I hope you enjoyed this little foray into the White Tank Mountains just west of Phoenix, Arizona.


desert rain….

the storm from the other night started with only the massing of clouds that covered the stars and then the quiet flashing of lightning in the dark eastern sky

within the passing of ninety minutes or more, or less, the rain was blowing sideways onto the bedroom windows and sliding glass door and there were striking flashes of blue-white light and delayed or immediate crashes of thunder that I could feel rumbling in the bed posts

when I looked outside I could see the rain coming down in a torrent from the street-light-lit sky and hear the thrashing of the wind and rain against the house

I cannot say how long it lasted, as I fell back to sleep while it was still underway

in the morning I found the feeble sun shining weakly through some lower clouds and only a few patches of barely blue sky

moments later, the clouds had lowered and the sky was covered with a pewter thickness

the air was wet and cool and carried the scent of a rain-washed desert in its breezes

it was heavy laden with creosote and wet leaves and grasses that had pooled in delta-like triangles and linear forms of sediment along the raceways of temporary streams that ran in the desert night

on my walk along the desert trail, I found those leaves and seeds and twigs and other desert-floor detritus collected in large swaths of poultice-like gatherings and saw the sand in its colors drawn in lines and slides of black and brown in the shapes of tiny gone rivers from the night’s collected rain

it looked like an ocean’s beach after the tide has gone out or after the ever waves have receded each in their cycle and turn, lines and drawn angles and arrows of black grains pulled over and through the surface of the deeper gray-brown sand of the desert’s bed

the quail were fewer in number that morning, as were the wild rabbits that I usually see…only one was out with his white tail and long pink-tan ears, hastily retreating into the desert there

no lizards raced across the trail and into the scrub beneath the trees and fresh washed bushes along the way, but the ants were out in their multitudes, opening their flooded caverns again, collecting the blown and washed seeds and stems from their surround…after the desert rain

vistas del desierto

This is just a glimpse of the area to the north and west of Lake Pleasant Regional Park.  It was close to noon on another “severe clear” day in the desert of Arizona…not a cloud in the sky and only recently attaining the temperature of “quite warm.”

Saguaro Cacti and mountain

Even though I lived in Arizona for over 20 years before moving to Utah, I still find it amazing to see so many Saguaro cacti.  I guess I didn’t get out of the city very often back then…something that I have already begun to remedy since returning.

mountain and Saguaro cacti afield


drops of morning

before the rains the desert smells like dust and rock

sometimes an unknown metal rides the glands of nose and mouth with searching

creosote 1

and after they come it is sweet with a knowable something

creosote 3

one that you know when you’ve been there and one that you don’t when you haven’t

creosote 2

 creosote or greasewood blossoms on a spring morning in the sonora desert north of phoenix arizona


it was the first in another stage of what has already been many trips down the road to and from an old place to a new one and back again and now the old is new and the new is old and desire is pulled in its different directions while the things that are passing are indeed passing and mostly without notice because they are not seen in their many familiarities, the eyes are on the road and the surrounding mountains and clouds in order to make it from one point to another and all the things in between are scant registers on a mental screen that has been focused toward what is within and not without…

dried grasses and cacti

the shadowed and purpled mountains didn’t register inside the lens as they did in my mind and it was only with disappointment that I stared at the screen with its muted hues and wondered at beauty and desire and hope, I had looked closer in another direction, through the side window, actually, beyond the bug-splatter on the forward windscreen and the highway railing and yellow lines and fractured glass and butts along the shoulder and it didn’t just come to me then, I had to seek it out, intentionally

Pusch Ridge

Rugged and beautiful, to me….

Pusch Ridge is along the western edge of the Catalina Mountains, the range that provides a natural northern boundary for Tucson, Arizona, USA.

Desert Spring

My first efforts at incorporating photos in this blog medium…pictures from springtime in the desert world of our west-valley region of metropolitan Phoenix….  These were taken along Skunk Creek a few days ago…which is/was about three to four weeks after the wonderful and record-breaking winter/spring rains….


Skunk Creek Crossing

It was a rich gray and thick that lay upon our morning with no sun in the east and slow and thoughtful drops that fell on the roof and slid in force and collusion and collision with each and every other drop as they ticked and ting-ed and splattered in a wet symphony into the puddles of their forbears and cousins and then.  Rain for two days then none and again today and the ground and sand and dirt and clay are loose and saturated and floating in and among their separate selves and the plants are singing hosannas and praises as the dormant seeds are waking and cracking and spreading their softened shells and driving their single primary roots into the soaked and soggy substance of their surround.


Living in the desert as we do, and in the plains or valley of it at that, bodies of water and streams and creeks and rivers are usually sights that we must travel to in order to see and behold in marvel.  It has rained off and on for most of two days, and then yesterday the sky was clear, with not a single wisp of cloudy vapor lingering anywhere in that vast horizon as I took my little one to school.  After running a couple errands, I put some air in the tires of my faithful bike and headed-out for a journey through our neighborhood.  I hadn’t planned on riding far, hadn’t planned on going where I did, but I ended-up on the bike and walking path that goes along either side of a natural waterway that someone years ago named ‘Skunk Creek.’  For probably ten months of the year, there is little to no water in this stream or creek bed.  Only during the summer monsoons or winter storms and occasional gully-washer rains is there enough water to flow in any presentation as a stream or creek or river…as it did yesterday and continues to do today.


After riding the mile circuit through our neighborhood, I made another round of an adjacent neighborhood, then pedaled up and into the infamous ‘Dog-Town’ region of yet another nearby neighborhood, one that was named by a group of Hispanic hoodlums and gangster wannabes of yesterday’s lore, and found that it was very similar to neighborhoods populated by the same socioeconomic caste that we/you can find in the southern and western reaches of our larger city and metropole with the same sainted yard figurines and shrines, half-done or more ornamental iron fence-work, stucco and plywood patchwork on the houses, some with bougainvillea and rose-bush elegance amid the potted plants and cacti, and others with cars in the dirt or scantily-grassed yards, or with beautifully decked-out trucks that I could afford if I didn’t live in the house that I do, and Pitt-bull puppies and bitches with teats flopping as they ran down the chain-link barking and threatening my two-wheeled presence.  I exited Dog-Town on Roosevelt Street and headed north on 83rd Avenue…three miles and beyond to the north side of the creek and alongside the backside of the sports complex and apartments and Arizona Broadway Theatre on the south side of Paradise Lane and around and back down the other side of the floodway on the sidewalk that skirts beautiful tile-roofed homes, an older stretch of farm plots with their own wet and wonderful smells of turned dirt and manure and workers covering or uncovering orderly rows of tender shoots of green and life and further along to the orchards of orange and grapefruit and tangelos and limes or other citrus with shorn grass between the rows and baby Mexican fan palms struggling and winning against nature and the landscapers where its germinal beginning was dropped in a dropping from a passing bird or carried on a summer storm gust from nearby or wherever relative trees.


The cycle path had been upgraded from rocks and dirt at this point and was now a two-laned and striped thoroughfare from one side to the next, going beneath the overpass that spanned the waterway preserve of rocks and plants and life in miniature and climbing an upward grade to the city park and complex and another footbridge span that crossed the creek yet again and took me south to places I had never been.  I’ve passed them times innumerable on the western freeway that travels nearby and have looked into and onto their expanse of bush and brush and things covered and undone in the rains and winds of our seasons, but never have I ridden so closely or walked among the grains of sand and leaves and washings of the mighty rains and streams as I did today.  The fresh water scent and heavy air and wet vegetation of weeds and wildflowers and scattered pieces of tree and grass and crumbled and crumbling masses of horse droppings from the pathway and pieces of Cholla cacti that were brought here by some other force for there were none growing here or nearby…and out in the middle of the watered wash where the water had passed and lessened into another stream was a little baby palm tree struggling against the other stuff that wasn’t of his kith and kin…and laying nearby and amid the tumbled rocks and bushes and scrub were a handful of perfect and bright oranges, one here one there and some in the beyond of that purview…oranges glowing in their orange-ness and wonder in the waterway passed and past, having come from afar.


I took the sidewalk pathway to the middle of the plain and stood at water’s edge as it streamed and rumbled and washed into itself from rivulets and splashing and had a mini-roar to itself as it moved along its way…the sidewalk was there somewhere underneath the brown and frothy churning and I thought for a hazardous moment of running across and through that mess of water and wonder and had flashes from my childhood where I tried to cross a neighborhood stream on my bicycle with my brand-new shoes and got bogged-down in the middle of that oh-so-clear stream in the mud and whatever as I tried to balance myself with feet on the unmoving pedals and suck of mud as I fought against gravity and what I knew would be an ass-beating when I got home with one muddied brand-new shoe…so I said in my child’s mind the child’s equivalent of ‘fuck-it-I’m-getting-my-ass-beat-anyway’ and put both feet down and walked my bike through the mud and crystal water and stood there sweating with heart pounding at what I knew was coming with monster-fucking-butterflies in my stomach…and those memories are so far away and so near as the raindrops fall and stream off of my roof and the neighbor’s as I look out my living room window, right now, with the piano music on the stereo and the never-satisfied cat on the counter behind me…literally saying ‘meow,’ as cats do….


And I stood there yesterday and knelt-down to smell the water and touch the mud and look at the other footprints that stopped earlier where mine were now…hiking boot tread and slip and I turned around and looked into the beyond and spied the path again that pointed south and made my way in following its lead.  I rode to where the water completely covered the southward path in its filling and flooding of the river-plain and had no choice but to stop and head back.  Before doing so, though, I got off the bike and studied the traveling water and marveled at its passing and roiling and moving into and over and under and beyond whatever was in its way as it went…wondering at the mini-habitat and consuming essence of ‘nature’ is it was here presented.  I smelled the earth again and weeds and cleanness as the zoom and noisy fright of the passing cars on that western freeway and those city streets went on their collective and singular ways, making a background of gray noise that fought against the tunes and mystery of the water and I wondered, too, at what life was beginning in the flood, what brine shrimp or other desiccated and dormant somethings were stirring in their watery rebirths and hatchings as ducks rode-by, paddling against their mini currents with occasional heads tucked into the wash sucking and finding something to eat as bugs or other somethings came their way.  The sun was bright in my eyes and glanced and danced off the moving and tossing water like millions of diamonds in their sparkling…tiny blasts of light and shine in cascading explosions and reflections and then.


And it was time to go now, as I had places to be and things to do that waited upon and depended upon the ticking of the clock and appointed imaginings of moments and then…and my shaky and tired legs pumped the pedals back along that pathway and passed the greening mesquite and cat-claw and palo-verde trees and creosote bushes and wild baby sunflower-ed plants of something or other as the chilled wind teared my eyes and brushed my cheeks with an ambulance siren behind me and the sparkle of an airplane passing overhead…the water flowed into and beyond itself thick and thin and brown and roiling…moving on its way downstream to other flood-beds and plains, carrying life and the lived with it and then….


Liquid Embrace

There are hideaways in this desert world.  They must be searched out or stumbled upon by chance, but they are there.  Sequestered locales against time and her demands are tucked away amidst the crush of life, safe havens to cushion our occasional fall.  Quietude and rest after a storm, the breeze laced with a fine scent of creosote.  The air, now pure from her cleansing, is free from the residue of our modern advances.  Gone are the particles and emissions of our progress.


The primary element of our being and the nest of our origin, offering and return, withdrawal and offer again.  Standing on this littoral plain, I feel the tugging on my soul; my being is drawn nearer to the mother of life.  Filling my ears are the whispers and stirrings of her core.  In her arms there is peace.


All that flies against me in every day is gone, with only her stirring presence around me.  Crashing waves and the gentle tide, purging the shore and offering her rest.  Salty mists are her kisses, the waves are her liquid embrace, all consuming, touching everywhere, a healing salve to my weary soul.