Weekly Photo Challenge – Happy Place

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Krista asks us to visit our happy place in the photo challenge this week. Where do you go to get away from the pressures of daily life. You can read the entire challenge post here. That place, for me, is the desert in winter. The moderate temperatures and fresh outdoor air make for some of my favorite days in Arizona.

Since spending our winters in Arizona, I’ve learned the desert is a beautiful place where I can spend hours on one of the many hiking trails deep in thought. The call of the Gila Woodpecker, the clank of the aluminum hiking poles and the soft sound of footsteps on the dusty trail break the silence. We went south with golf clubs in the trunk, expecting to retire like most northern retirees heading south. As luck would have it, we joined a hiking challenge for the Arizona Centennial in 2012. We hiked 100 miles to meet the challenge and have hiked at least 100 miles on Arizona trails every year since then. The photo above was captured at the junction of two of my favorite trails.

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The desert is greener than most people probably realize, especially after a particularly wet year. Species of trees that normally grow tall in other environments stay low to the ground in the desert. A wide variety of cactus punctuates the views. The Hawk’s Nest Trail in Phoenix Sonoran Preserve is a prime example of green desert plants.

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North of the Sonoran Desert, the high iron content in the rock makes for a beautiful red hue. Many trails for horse, foot and vehicles give plenty of opportunity for enjoying the beautiful scenery near the artist’s community of Sedona Arizona.

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One of the most photogenic deserts in the state is located on the Navajo Reservation. Monument Valley has long been an iconic backdrop for western and cowboy movies. Arizona and Utah share this beautiful desert valley which is also the home for wild horses. The 3-mile (4.8 km) Wildcat Trail is the only trail in the park that can be self-guided. All other trails in the park require hikers to be accompanied by a Native American guide.

We will soon be back in our winter home and, my wife, Lynn, and I look forward to completing our 100 mile challenge for this year, one step at a time.

John Steiner


    • Indeed. They were part of a herd that amounted to at least 20 individuals, if I recall. All of them appeared to be lacking in food. They are feral animals and I suspect that as it was late in the year, there probably wasn’t much forage left. The park is on Navajo land so I believe that maintenance of the park and its natural resources is the responsibility of the Navajo Nation.

      • I always pictured wild horses as free and beautiful, like in movies. The reality is that they are starving and living on the edge. Thanks for the beautiful photos. And the dose of reality.

  1. Reblogged this on SEEN ALONG THE TRAIL and commented:
    Today I came across the work of another blogger who combines photography and his love of hiking the trails. In this case, the trails are in southern Arizona. His writing is interesting and very easy to read, and the photography is excellent. If, like me, you enjoy both photography and writing, please be sure to visit this blog.

  2. Gorgeous! We should spend Christmases in that beautiful climate instead of braving the cold plains… Food for thought. Happy hiking!

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