Hiking in the Desert
Days 2 and 3 here I ventured out for a few lil hikey hikes: Spur Cross Trailhead (for convenience and ease) and Devil’s Bridge (bigger challenge, better views), respectively.
Spur Cross was relatively easy, and only 9 minutes’ drive down the road, though if I’d go again I’d do it at sunrise or sundown for less brutal heat. Still was able to catch some cool shots, though. And don’t ask me why, but whenever I’m out in major hikes that also house certain wildlife I’d rather not run into unarmed and alone, I forget that possibility until I’m at the farthest point away in my route…someday I’ll learn. Thankfully, I’ve yet to run into either bears or mountain lions and therefore remain the only cougar in these woods.
I have a lot of fun with hiking photography! The day and the wilderness are yours to test run the aesthetic you want from your images.
Hike #1 was very neat and a terrain completely different than anything I’d ever seen, but lessons definitely learned:
Avoid midday hikes when the temps climb to a high of 103 degrees.
That level of heat totally zapped my energy afterward. Get ready to nap later if being outside that time of day is unavoidable.
Stopping for breaks helps. I found a big boy saguaro that gave me some nice shade to rest. There’s pushing through fatigue and then there’s being an idiot until you pass out in ungodly heat.
Read the signs. Other than obvious health and safety warnings, any bit of historical overlay to your surroundings adds depth and meaning to your visit! In the namesake cave of this town (“Cave Creek”), for instance, a bloody skirmish broke out between Apache Indians and American soldiers in 1873.
For the sky, do you like the blue hue shift more toward turquoise, or purple? I like them both and can’t decide, so I go back and forth.
Thankfully a giant cactus here and there offered some much-appreciated shade.
My second hike had some challenges of its own - bigger crowds (Sunday before Labor Day, naturally), tougher climb, and a long, dry stretch of trail with no shade that seemed to suck in heat. But those views, man…worth the hype.
I’d completely forgotten to bring sunscreen (or maybe didn’t feel like stopping to get some, idk) but a quick fix was just asking a group of girls from L.A. if I could use some of theirs. They were very helpful.
Despite the crowds (and my bashfulness with shooting alone in front of them), I still managed to get a few shots I’m happy with. A few stopping points on the way up to Devil’s Bridge were popular for taking pictures.
Devil’s Bridge is a massive crossover of rock - a narrow path that “bridges” two columns of mountain. Several friends had recommended it so I rose early and drove two hours to Sedona to see it myself.
I’ve hiked in five or six different states, and I’ve never seen terrain like this. The masses of red rock are breathtaking and worth a pause.
No doubt we were in Red Rock country. My sneakers will carry red dust remnants long after we’re back home.
One ruthlessly shade-less two-mile stretch leading to the bridge - which felt doable on the front end, but was rough and seemed endless on the way back - had warning signs advising hikers to carry both salty snacks and at least one gallon of water per person. Cruelly, my mind flashed forward to images of me lying face down in the dirt, dried out to a crisp, like Spongebob on the beach - you know, that rookie who carried only two-thirds of the recommended amount of water for the route. That and unsalted sunflower seeds.
But we made it up, fam! Folks with every accent and origin occupied the trails, and it was cool to see how willing folks were to help out other hikers. Sharing sunscreen, offering to take pictures, etc.
Stay gracious with your body and stop for water breaks in the shade. Sunscreen was a good move (big thanks to those LA girls who saved my skin). The rock bridge at the top, a frighteningly narrow expanse that apparently “wasn’t as scary once you were on it,” as many people claimed - was super cool. A hoard of people were gathered in line to take turns snapping poses of them atop the terrifyingly tall (and narrow) bridge of rock, where posing too absent-mindedly could send one tumbling to certain death.
But because I’m not much of a fan of waiting in line for anything, really, I was content to snap a few pictures of the bridge and folks posing on it, then heading back downhill. Even in high school I remember I used to take a lap so I wouldn’t have to wait in the lunch line at the cafeteria. Not not stubborn…
And so my hiking palate grows! What a weekend. Where should I go next??