After the Storm
Hello once again! I promised a photo post this weekend, and I think it’s about time the site got some new material. A couple weeks ago my area of Phoenix got a tremendous rainstorm which began at night and carried through till about noon the day after. This is unusually long for us, and resulted in flooding across the city. The rain also served to cool the air just enough to make a hike into the mountains possible, and I could not let the invitation pass me by. The route I took was fairly short, as the temperature was still in the mid-90s and it was unpleasantly humid, but the desert immediately after a rain harbors some interesting secrets that vanish as quickly as they appear. I began on a familiar formation I call the Rock, which is the source of many photos on this site, and at the top of which was caught a small pool of rainwater, clear and free from the usual mob of bees that gather at such places. The earth had long since dried, but here on a mound of stone was a reflecting pool cheekily winking as the sun passed through the lingering clouds.
I had my sights set on the highest peak in the area, rising some 450 feet from the trailhead, but I planned to take a winding back route to the main saddle which leads to the summit. Tackling the peak from any angle is a sharp, rocky climb, but my trail tended to pass around the worst areas which are better saved for a winter expedition. The hills I was climbing form two sides of the main geologic fault in the park, the one featuring a heavy, glassy quartzite and the other a platy, wood-like phyllite which ranges from long rectangular blocks to sharp fins poking edgewise from the ground. At one point on the trail I found remnants of the fossilized seafloor which once covered the area, buried by a layer of gravel but brought to light again from all the foot traffic overhead. The mountains are odd in that they look young, still sharp and rigidly shaped, but every now and then are hints that they are far older, and have been through much more, than one might assume.
After reaching the saddle and making the part-hike, part-climb to the top, I spent a while following some of the ridges and pathways which are only accessible from the summit. Along the south side, overlooking distant Piestewa Peak, I found a pleasant place to rest which was near a large, unusually round outcrop of the aforementioned quartzite. Usually it fragments in geometric blocks, but this piece poked up like a thumb across the abyss, and was clearly a popular perch for hawks like the one circling the valley below.
After cooling off (or rather, doing what I could to keep from melting) I picked my way back down the main trail on the mountain, which is direct, steep, and unpleasant when going up. The rain had washed away most of the thinner sediment on the trail, leaving it a rock-fall which took longer than planned to maneuver. From the bottom it was a simple matter to go back out the way I came, the hike having only whetted my longing for adventure but the heat preventing a more extensive outing. Soon, though, I’ll be back in the more forgiving climate of Flagstaff, and I have some ideas rattling around for interesting new locations to explore alongside the old favorites.
As mentioned yesterday I’m making good progress on my latest Colorado portfolio, which may be the next update, so stick around for that as the scenery there was quite amazing. Until then I’ll try to keep up with my social sites, listed and linked in the Social Network section, so give those a visit in coming days. As always, thank you for reading, and for any comments or likes you may send my way!