Merry Christmas

A rock formation resembling a smiling face looks out over the desert at sunrise on the Marcus Landslide Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve

I call this rock formation the Guardian of the Desert, I love how it smiles while looking out over the desert valley. It reminds me of the moai on Easter Island, though this statue was not carved by human hands. I spent this Christmas morning on the trails but the picture is from a month ago, taken at first light on a lovely morning in the Sonoran Desert.


A foothill palo verde tree with the moon above it at first light on the Sunrise Trail at McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

First light falls upon a foothill palo verde tree as the moon hangs above, taken yesterday morning on my first hike of the Sunrise Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve. Life has been full of a lot of firsts lately and hiking has been no exception. This morning was the first time I hiked in shorts since arriving here, as I’m testing out when I want to wear short sleeves and shorts based on temperature, and unfortunately it was also the first time I slipped on the trails here. Nothing serious, just skinned up one of my shins, but I don’t think in two decades of hiking in the Northwest I ever drew blood (to be fair I rarely lose my footing).

But mostly the firsts have been positive. First time seeing animals, first time seeing plants, first time visiting parks, first time hiking trails. The new Columbia sun hat and new Merrell hiking shoes are both working well, Friday morning I wore the shoes for the first time on a flat hike and by Saturday morning I was confident enough to wear them on this hike of the Sunrise Trail, which is mostly constant elevation change. It was also quite windy so fortunately I had the chinstrap on my hat cinched tight or my new hat would be soaring above the desert even now.

Welcome to Arizona

A cactus wren perches on a saguaro cactus with the moon in the background

It’s been a busy week since we moved to Arizona but now it was time for some fun. I got up at 5 a.m. this morning (that wasn’t fun) and headed to Pinnacle Peak Park, the park I visited the day after I interviewed in February but now with time to hike the entire trail instead of just sampling hiking in the desert. As soon as I hit the trail, before the sun even rose above the horizon, I met this cactus wren perched on a large saguaro with the moon in the background, my first new wildlife species in our new home.

What a beautiful welcome to Arizona.