In the Shadows, In the Light

As the rising sun lights up distant Pinnacle Peak, a white-winged dove perches on a tree in the shadows along the Latigo Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in June 2019

As the rising sun lights up distant Pinnacle Peak, a white-winged dove perches in the shadows. The light soon reached the tips of the tallest saguaros and was a minute or two from reaching the fruiting saguaro this dove was jealously guarding from other doves when suddenly the lights went out. From my vantage point I couldn’t see the sun and saw naught but blue sky before me, but low-lying clouds in the east must have rolled in. Although I missed the first kiss of the soft red light the sun soon returned and I watched this dove and a variety of other birds from that one spot for quite some time, the only downside being I only hiked for a couple of miles that morning.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

A view west of Pinnacle Peak and other mountains from the Tom's Thumb Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona

When I first started thinking about looking for work outside of Portland, I immediately added Albuquerque to the list of cities I was interested in. Thinking about the high desert got me thinking about the regular desert but I had the misconception that the desert near Tucson and Phoenix was flat as far as the eye could see, with the occasional cactus sticking up to break up the monotony. Fortunately I did some research and discovered the hills and mountains around each city.

Once we decided to move here and started looking for a house to rent, one of the things I was interested in was distance to local hiking trails. I saw McDowell Sonoran Preserve on a map and thought it looked interesting from afar, it’s a massive preserve owned by the city of Scottsdale with a variety of trailheads leading out to a network of trails. Most trailheads are a 15 to 25 drive from our house and I’m pleased to say that the preserve has turned out to be a great place to hike, so far 6 of my 8 hiking trips have been to different parts of the preserve.

These pictures are from Tom’s Thumb Trail, the furthest trailhead I’ve visited so far but a lovely hike and one I will return to. You can see Pinnacle Peak in both pictures, the nearby trail was the one I visited briefly during my interview trip and the first trail I hiked after we moved here. Pinnacle Peak Park is also owned by the city of Scottsdale but is not a part of the preserve.

A view of a saguaro, rock formations, and mountains in the distance from the Tom's Thumb Trail in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona