Desert Sunrises – Monsoon Style

The last few weeks in the desert has made for some awesome sunrises.  I spent a nice early morning hike this past weekend and blown away.


I also managed to unintentionally take another photo that I almost hesitate to share, just not sure why….


This isn’t a sunrise, but it was one of the most unique Monsoon cells I’d ever seen.

Phoenix Monsoon

And a nice double three-legged rainbow.

Phoenix Rainbow


Is One Sunset Worth a Blog Post?

It’s a Friday night and I wanted to get home early. But God had other plans. He decided to put on a show, that I was happy to attend. And I got home late.


Places: Skull Mesa

Currently, I am training to do the Rim-to-Rim hike at the Grand Canyon in May.  I felt pretty close to where I needed to be a few months ago, until I broke a toe and hiking was placed on hold.  One of the best local places to simulate the hike out of the canyon is the hike to Skull Mesa (what a great movie title!).

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I sit here a day after the hike and gauge where I am at.  To be honest, if I wrote this in the morning, I’d have to admit I felt in pretty bad shape. It was tough to stand – both knees were hurting – I had an agave needle bury itself 3/4 of an inch into one knee and the loose footing on the way down took its toll on the other.

Well, on the plus side, my muscles are not as sore as I thought they’d be.  I have a couple blisters (I need new shoes!).  And the knees are only a bit tender.  After 20+ miles for the day, I’m feeling pretty good.  But I don’t climb a mountain just because it’s there.  I do my best to enjoy and share the journey.

And one of the best reasons to be up there is the chance to see some wonderful petroglyphs  (one of which is pornographic) and metates.

A word of warning in finding these, it requires a couple miles of “bushwhacking”.  And in the desert, it comes with a price.  And in warmer months, I’m told this is serious rattlesnake country.


There is also a a set of ruins even farther in.

And a reminder that you are not alone up there. as this half of a deer leg suggests.

Skull Mesa-158

Skull Mesa is definitely a difficult hike.  It’s steep, rocky and long to make it to the top. It qualifies as a “No Guardrails” hike.   But beautiful and you’ll see things you cannot see anywhere else.   If you are anywhere near Cave Creek, Arizona, give it a try.

Places: Red Rock State Park

There are a lot of places to hike in Sedona, Arizona.  I’ve been hiking in many of the wonderful places, but for some reason had never been to Red Rock State Park.  It’s not that I tried to avoid it, but for whatever reason it had never made it to the top of the list.

I live a little more than an hour to the south side of Sedona, which has some great trails and things to see before even getting to town (Courthouse Butte Trail  being my current favorite).

To be honest, driving close to town is a bit of pain.  And Red Rock State Park requires this effort, which makes it more of a challenge to just make a “morning of it”.  But this past weekend, I made the commitment to do just that.

It has what you’d expect from Sedona – pretty red rocks and some scenic views.  It also has Oak Creek cutting through the middle – surrounded by cottonwood trees.  And now being a desert dweller, I appreciate running water whenever I see it.

From a hiking perspective, the trails are short and generally easy/easy+.  And worth the few hours it takes to walk them all.  I will definitely be back during a during a different season to check it out when the leaves are on the trees.

And Safety First!

Red Rock State Park 09

There’s Something about Balloons and Saguaros!

The cooler seasons in Phoenix means the hot air balloons are in the sky.

For us out there hiking, the balloons add to the enjoyment of being in the desert.

Of course, it’s the definition of being in the right place at the right time. The winds need to blowing the right direction, and you have to be at the right spot of the trail if the pilots (are they called pilots?) bring them low enough where you are.

There is a strange universal appeal about capturing the balloon and saguaro together. In the world social media, these always get the most “likes”.

For the record, I’m scared of heights. It’s not likely I’ll have any photos from the other vantage point. Happy Trails!  And don’t forget to look up!


It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Do What I Want (which is get out early and wander)!

Not much to share, as the pictures speak for themselves. When Phoenix gets a cloudy day, the pre-dawn and sunrises can be amazing. These a combination of Camera (I realize I still want that with me), GoPro, and cell phone. All within about 90 minutes (Lightroom used on some for some “pop”). Happt Trails!

Clear Blue Skies! I’ve missed you so!

It’s kind of like rich people complaining about the rest of us getting #Crumbs (sorry to be political), but it’s the first morning I can remember in Phoenix with clear blue skies this winter.  And I’ve missed it!

So my wife and I do what we like to do on a Saturday, and take a quick wander through a desert trail.  Ruby was with us, too!

This pic below is kind of an inside joke on my brother-in-law, who listens to 5 minutes of a mediation app on his phone every day (He refuses to pay for it).  I call it “Meditating with Mark”:

We were fortunate that the winds had the balloons take off near Apache Wash:

I Don’t remember taking this.  My GoPro may be haunted.  The “Hikers Crossing” silhouette:

Happy Trails!

Do I need to hike with my camera anymore?

I’ve spent much of the last year hiking with my Nikon D3400, along with my Samsung Galaxy 8 phone.  And I’ve been very happy with the pictures they both take.

But I was fortunate enough to be gifted a GoPro Hero6 Black during the holidays through a drawing at work – (a gift from God?). 

 I’m not sure I’d have ever bought one, which may have been a mistake in judgment.

I’ve committed to carrying just the GoPro and phone while hiking the last few weeks and have been extremely impressed with the video and pictures.  And even more impressed with the picture capture the phone app makes.

With a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike scheduled in May, I may leave the Nikon behind to save weight.  Anybody have thoughts?

I do use Adobe Lightroom as the GoPro has limitations, but that’s true for the Nikon (as I have limitations 😊)

Below is a combination of mostly GoPro, but it’s hard to tell.

Places: Lost Dutchman State Park

Warm, dusty, rocky and dry.  And it feels like it’s all up hill.  And yes, I like that.  I was able to spend a few hours hiking Lost Dutchman State Park this week.

I wouldn’t expect to find the Dutchman’s gold, but there is plenty of desert things to see if you like rocks…

Or if you like Cactus…

And even if you like to play “Where’s the Old Man”…

Not sure I’d come in the middle of summer during the day, but I’ll be back.



Places: Desert Vista Trail, Phoenix Arizona

Phoenix is blessed to have many place to hike.  I have a new favorite locally the Desert Vista Trail.

Desert Vista Trail Phoenix Arizona Hiking

Just north of the city, it offers a nice variety of mountain trials…

and a desert trails with something to look at.

You may even get to see a Coyote.

And somebody circa the 80’s must of had some explaining to do…