I have hiked into and among these hills several times over the past two years. They are just east of the neighborhood where I live in north Phoenix and are a distinctive landscape feature that is visible for many miles. It wasn’t until last week when I posted the images of the Golden Poppies that I learned what “Tramonto” actually means…I had figured that it was the name of a place in Italy…given that the street names of the development are all related to Italy in some manner or another. But, thanks to Emilio at Disperser Tracks, I now understand that the word means “sunset,” and it is quite fitting, as the hills are often lit with a beautiful, golden hue during the last hour of a given day.
It was a wet-enough Winter that the hills have come alive with the bright yellows and soft greens that are typical of early Spring in this part of the desert. In the above image, you can see multitudes of Brittlebush blossoms…a very common sight at this time of the year. Some people might say that it’s invasive, or maybe unnatural to exist as profusely as it does, but it brightens the roadside along the highways on this north end of town and makes it almost pleasurable to be out on those freeways…going…going….
I don’t know the names of the tiny white flowers above, or even the larger ones in the photo below, but they were tender treasures in the shaded slope of the hills that made me want to tarry long and forget about the rest of the ascent to the saddle and several minor summits that awaited me.
But those little summits and saddles were my goal on this particular morning…I wanted to view the surrounding area from these specific places, as I had never been there before and didn’t know when I would get there again…so onward and upward I went.
I had no delusions that I might escape the signs and trappings of civilization when I embarked on this hike…as I will admit that I do when venturing out on many other hiking excursions…I knew that I was essentially smack-dab in the middle of it, but I knew that the offered views would be wonderful. Looking a bit southwest in the above photo…and almost due west in the one below…the near ritual hot-air balloon rides were underway on this weekend morning….
…with the broad view above, where we can’t seem to escape the ubiquitous electrical poles and lines…with a bit of freeway thrown in for fun….
…and then the much closer view of examining Nature’s leavings on one of the few saddles along the way.
Looking south from the same saddle…the desert hills…a stately Saguaro…Orange Globe Mallow in the foreground, and a bit of Brittlebush again with its yellow flowers.
This one above is actually a photograph of the volcanic rocks…and the flowers kind of got in the way. It seems that the hills facing west are made of a type of crumbling granite and the hills just east and north of them are covered in various kinds of volcanic mess…some with the appearance of lava and others with the appearance of basalt…that provided a nice glass-like tinkling when they clanked into each other when moved under-foot.
Yet another view of a solitary balloon…looking southeast now…over the desert plain…with the metropolitan “fog” in the air….
Far and near….near and far….and many fascinations do we find…sweet flowers and wild grass pollen or seed….
Who knew we’d be able to see Lake Pleasant from up there…but ahoy, there it is….west…and beyond the basalt-ed cairn…. And yet another cairn when looking north over Anthem and the prominent Gavilan Peak….
…and looking east, now, at the opposite side of the first cairn above…with the metro-mist and a balloon, to boot….
You’ve already seen the Golden Poppies, but I encountered them on the way down from the various saddles and summits…down in the deeper shadows of the volcanic ridge-line, waiting for the sun-shower that would soon be theirs….
While the below image was taken earlier than some of the previous photographs, it seemed like a nice way to end the post…so there it is…looking south and east from the first saddle with the various desert hills cloaked in what looks like a carpet of green….
I had passed the sign for the trail-head several times last week…and found that it was compelling enough to cause me to Google-it to learn more about it. This trail is part of The City of Phoenix’s Sonora Desert Preserve…and you can click on the highlighted name…and then click on the link to the map to see exactly where I went. If you click on the link to the map, scroll down to the bottom and then scoot over to the middle of the large map to see the course of the Desert Vista trail. I started at the trail-head, followed the Hawk’s Nest, to the Desert Tortoise, then followed the Valle Verde Trail to the Horned Owl Trail to the Union Peak trail, back down and to the right, following the loop of the Great Trail back up to the Valle Verde, to the Desert Tortoise, Hawk’s Nest and to the trail-head again. I made over 100 photographs during the hike and the following gallery presents what I think are 13 of the better images. Please remember, if you click on any image, it will take you to a slide-show that will give you the opportunity to click on the images again to see them in a larger format. Thank you for visiting and sharing a few minutes of your time with me…I hope you enjoy the hike!
I didn’t know that this was a Jumping Cholla…thought it was a Teddy Bear Cholla..turns out that they’re actually the same thing..or so says this website, Sonoran Desert Plants. This particular species of cactus is quite prevalent in the desert area of north Phoenix.
This is what it looks like facing north from an anonymous peak just east of my neighborhood in the Desert Hills area of north Phoenix. I believe that might be Daisy Mountain near the far center of the image. It was eight minutes before seven and the sun was nearing the western horizon and you can detect a slightly golden hue in the desert foreground…sparsely placed and youngish Saguaro cacti populate the area among Creosote bushes and the reminders of the region’s volcanic origins….
The high daytime temperature yesterday was somewhere in the low hundreds…and I imagine that it was probably somewhere in the mid-nineties by the time I came down from the mountain and entered the neighborhood again. There had been clouds across the sky throughout the day, but they didn’t stick-around long enough to be significant with regard to the sunset…but there were bats circling the near-nighttime sky, skittering and dashing about as bats will do, finding their evening (or morning?) meals on the wing and disappearing into the blue-black shadows of the coming night.
I was walking back to my truck when I noticed the dash of white-yellow-orange-pink of the airliner passing the silhouette forms of these statuesque Saguaro cacti. If you’re interested, the tree is a Palo Verde and the more linear stalks of cactus in the lower right corner are from a single Ocotillo…..
Wishing you a pleasant evening from north Phoenix, Arizona, USA.